To close the calendar for 2016, Galeria Raquel Arnaud is presenting “Carlos Zilio 1973/1977.” This show brings together some twenty works including paintings, photographs, drawings and objects created by the artist in one of the darkest periods in the country’s history. A participant in key Brazilian exhibits of the 1960s, notably Opinião 66 (‘Opinion 66’) and Nova Objetividade Brasileira (‘New Brazilian Objectivity’), both at the Museum of Modern Art in Rio de Janeiro, Zilio was intensely engaged in politics during this period. “His works, initially linked to the so-called Nova Figuração Brasileira (‘New Brazilian Figuration’), become more synthetic as of 1973, though without losing their critical content. His installations create situations that approximate the experiments in conceptual art,” notes Guilherme Bueno, professor of Art History. And it is precisely the works of this period that have been selected by critic Luisa Duarte, who curated this exhibit.
Para um Jovem de Brilhante Futuro (‘For a young man with a brilliant future’) (1973), is one of Zilio’s iconic works, composed of an executive’s leather attaché case whose interior is filled with rows of sharp nails sticking up, an indication that politics had not disappeared from his works in the 1970s. The same title serves for a series of photos taken by the artist from 1974 to 2001. Also noteworthy is the photograph in black and white with a dark background, in which a paper card is stuck on the big toe of a cadaver that reads, Identity Unknown (1973/2013).
As the curator points out, “In the midst of the environment of extreme tension at that time, Zilio creates a series of works that evoke the complexities of the exceptional period. But the most important thing is to note how the artist’s production during that period was indeed engaged in dialogue with the reigning political atmosphere, yet was in no way reduced to illustrating the themes in vogue after the fashion of a pamphlet. What is clear from the works assembled here is Zilio’s ability to instill a formal and poetic force in his works, making them vibrate with high voltage, that is both sensitive as well as intelligible. “Carlos Zilio 1973/1977” thus affords a precious opportunity for us to get to know the work of a key figure in Brazilian art who understood, as few others did, how to delineate with rigor and coherence the links between life, art and politics in Brazil,” she concludes.
Carlos Zilio was born in Rio de Janeiro in 1944. He lives and works in Rio de Janeiro. He studied painting with Iberê Camargo at the Instituto de Belas Artes and holds a degree in Psychology from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. He took part in some of the key Brazilian exhibits of the 1960s – Opinião 66 (‘Opinion 66’) and Nova Objetividade Brasileira (‘The New Brazilian Objectivity’), for example, both at the Museum of Modern Art of Rio de Janeiro, and at shows of international stature: the Bienal de São Paulo (9th, 20th and 29th – 1967, 1989, 2010), the 10th Paris Biennale (1977), the Bienal de Mercosul (2005) and Tropicália, which appeared in Chicago, London, New York and Rio de Janeiro.
During the 1970’s he lived in France. Since his return to Brazil in 1980, he has taken part in innumerable group shows as well as a number of individual exhibits, notably Arte e Política 1966-1976, at the Museums of Modern Art in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Bahia (1996 and 1997), Carlos Zilio, at the Centro de Arte Hélio Oiticica (Rio de Janeiro, 2000), which covered his works from the 1990s, and Pinturas sobre papel, (‘Paintings on paper’) at the Paço Imperial (Rio de Janeiro, 2005) and the Estação Pinacoteca (São Paulo, 2006).
The most recent group exhibits he has taken part in were: Brazil Imagine at Astrup Fearnley Museet, Oslo 2013; Mac Lyon, 2014; Qatar Museum; and Dhc/Art, Montreal in 2014 and Possibilities of the Object-Experiments in Modern and Contemporary Brazilian Art, at the Fruit Market Gallery, Edinburgh. His most recent individual shows have been at Galeria Raquel Arnaud (São Paulo, 2014), the Museu de Arte Contemporânea do Paraná (Curitiba, 2010), Centro Universitário Maria Antonia (São Paulo, 2010) and the Museum of Modern Art of Rio de Janeiro (2011). Zilio has also worked as a teacher at the School of Fine Arts, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. In 2008, the publisher Cosac Naify published the book, Carlos Zilio, edited by Paulo Venâncio Filho, about his work. His works are held by a number of museums, such as Mac/Usp, Mac/Paraná, Mac Niterói, Mam/Sp, Mam/Rj, Pinacoteca SP and MoMa. Galeria Raquel Arnaud has been representing the artist since 1997.