Coming September 1 to Phoenix Art Museum, Past/Future/Present: Contemporary Brazilian Art from the Museum of Modern Art, São Paulo presents a rare panorama of the most innovative art produced in Brazil from the 1990s to the 2010s. The first exhibition in the United States devoted to the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, São Paulo (MAM-SP), it is also the first exhibition of contemporary Brazilian art in the Southwest. Open to the public beginning on First Friday, September 1, through December 31, Past/Future/Present will feature 70 artworks created by 59 artists in diverse media, including painting, sculpture, installation, photography, video, and performance.
“We are delighted to welcome the MAM’s extraordinary collection to Phoenix,” said Amada Cruz, the Sybil Harrington Director and CEO of Phoenix Art Museum. “At the Museum, we are committed to bringing the world to our city. Past/Future/Present is a testament not only to the extraordinary caliber of the MAM’s collection, but also to the benefits enjoyed by communities near and far whenever there is successful collaboration between international institutions.”
Past/Future/Present is organized around five themes: The Body/The Social Body; Shifting Identities; Landscape, Reimagined; Impossible Objects; and The Reinvention of the Monochrome. The vast variation of styles, subject matter, and media in each nucleus highlight the impossibility of defining a national artistic style. This artistic cross-section instead reveals that there are no universal formal traits among contemporary Brazilian artists, and that brasilidade, or “Brazilianness,” cannot be defined as a fixed “essence” tied to physical geography. Rather, these works’ commonalities revolve around allusions to shared histories, indigenous mythologies, social norms (and transgressions), and both tributes to and subversions of national art histories. As the title implies, Past/Future/Present illustrates how Brazil’s most celebrated contemporary artists maintain creative dialogues with past national artistic traditions while also looking toward the future with a global perspective and boundless creativity.
“This selection of works from the Museum of Modern Art, São Paulo, displays the adeptness with which Brazilian artists have adapted to the realities of globalization,” said Vanessa Davidson, PhD, the Shawn and Joe Lampe Curator of Latin American Art. “They speak fluently in artistic languages spotlighted on the global stage at the same time that their art, imbued with both local specificity and universal resonance, has itself become an international reference point.” For this exhibition, co-curators Dr. Davidson and Dr. Cauê Alves selected pioneering, experimental works to share with the Phoenix community. “Because the MAM-SP houses one of the most important collections of Brazilian art in the world,” said Dr. Davidson, “this exhibition is only one constellation of artworks among many others that could be imagined. It is not intended as a definitive look at contemporary artistic production in Brazil, but rather aimed to contribute to the ongoing conversation about what Brazilian art is and can be.”
Past/Future/Present is a singular opportunity for American audiences to experience an in-depth look at the practice of contemporary Brazilian artists now recognized as the pioneers of their generation. The exhibition also features several historical anchors that illustrate conceptual continuities between past and present, such as works by Waltercio Caldas, Lenora de Barros, Antonio Dias, Anna Bella Geiger, José Leonilson, Antonio Manuel, Cildo Meireles, and Carlos Zilio, among others. During the course of the exhibition, featured artists Laura Lima, Vik Muniz, and Jac Leirner will travel from Brazil to Phoenix to give public lectures on their artistic practice. Beginning in August, the Museum will also host a Past/Future/ Present film series, bringing an even wider view of Brazil to Phoenix through screenings of five films.