Elsa Ravazzolo, Director of A Gentil Carioca, Rio de Janeiro
This year Miart featured the ‘Generations’ section curated by Lorenzo Benedetti, Kunstmuseum St. Gallen. He has called upon two galleries with the purpose of building a conversation between two artists of two different generations on the same stand, cooperating on a single exhibition project. Art Super named A Gentil Carioca and artist Jarbas Lopes the top spot in our collectors’ guide. We spoke with Elsa Ravazzolo, director of the gallery, who described not only the Miart project, but also their achievements and the forthcoming changes.
AS. A Gentil Carioca and the work of Jarbas Lopes were named the best from the Generations category in Art Super Collectors Guide for Miart 2018. Jarbas’ artwork is interactive and expresses the accessibility of the aesthetic experience. How does the accessibility and the dialogue change and with its works from the European public to the American or South American one? How did the Miart audience intervene in this aesthetic dialogue with the artwork ‘Pintura Schock’ for example?
ER. A Gentil Carioca is different from other galleries as three artists founded founded it: Marcio Botner, Laura Lima and Ernesto Neto. This initiative, a unique in Brazil, was born to capture and spread the peculiarities of Brazilian art in Brazil and around the world. In his formal and interactive artworks, Jarbas created a dialogue between public and social spaces. He finds the materials he uses in the context of everyday life, where apparently mundane/banal objects become the starting point for a research on functions and symbolic language. He’s especially focused on the idea of accessibility of aesthetic experience and social interaction.
For example, in the series of ‘Elastic Paints’, traditional painting is mixed with the act of creating a geometric pattern of elastic bands and the multisensory experience that the manipulation of the works allows. This concept finds the origins in the history of Brazilian art with concrete and neo-concrete art movements in the 1960s and 1970s. This avant-garde movement arrives in Brazil in the 50s through the Swiss citizen Max Bill (1908-1994), one of the precursors of the movement. Bill popularized the conception of this new trend in the Exposição Nacional de Arte Concreta (National Exhibition of Concrete Art) in 1956. Concretism, of concrete art, is an artistic wave originating from the idea that works of art must have an impact on reality, be concrete. For this reason the artworks of concrete art are designed so that the public can interact with us: in an original development of concrete ideas.
Such artists as Hélio Oiticica, Lygia Clark and Lygia Pape founded this movement. Today the neoconcretism is well know globally and represents also the current stage of Brazilian art, as can be seen trough the works of Jarbas Lopes. The works of Jarbas exhibited for the first time in Miart have generated surprise and curiosity and a lot of interest in the Italian public. In Europe we are accustomed with the fact that, when visiting a museum, artworks cannot be touched. The possibility to interact with the artworks creates a special and multi-sensory relationship because art can also be fun and become and innovative approach for the Italian public.
AS. A Gentil Carioca owes its success to the quality of his choices. Regarding fairs, what is the best market where the dialogue between your artists and collectors expresses the right feeling?
ER. Conceived in a ‘crossroads’ in order to encourage and spread the artistic diversity between Brazil and the world, A Gentil Carioca was founded 15 years ago, on 6 September 2003 by three artists Marcio Botner, Laura Lima and Ernesto Neto, the day before the Independence of Brazil so, joking, we say that it was born independent!
We believe that every work of art has its own cultural particularity with enough potential to radiate cultural and education. In the same way the history can be taught, forgotten, documented and modified. A Gentil Carioca is the place where artist is and political contexts can be revitalized in various ways. Our spaces, in the historical centre of Rio de Janeiro, are a focal point to gather and spread various artistic practices and thoughts. In recent years the gallery has expanded physically, but always with the aim of going beyond the contact of a conventional art gallery. Was such an honour and joy that our tenth anniversary we have inaugurated a second 3-storey building of 200m2 in total, on the other side of the street from our central building.
In order to present his Gentil spirit, A Gentil Carioca besides being very active in Rio de Janeiro with public art projects such as the Wall Gentil and art interventions in the beach of Ipanema as the Allaho project, he participates in the most important art fairs worldwide, such as Art Basel, Art Basel Miami Beach, Frieze in London and Frieze NY etc. Each market has its own particularities and needs, our task is to bring a little of our Gentil spirit to the world.
AS. Are there some news concerning the near future of your gallery and your artists?
ER. We are very happy that several of our artists are also gaining an international interest as the collective Opavivara’! will inaugurate an individual at the Tate Liverpool 27 April, Laura Lima an exhibition at the Prada Foundation on 6 June, Vivian Caccuri and Arjan Martins are present at the Biennale del Mercosul. Maria Laet and Cabelo will be part of the 33rd Bienal de São Paulo curated by Gabriel Pe’rez – Barreiro. Follow us to accompany the new projects of our artists and the gallery.
AS. How do you feel about running a gallery in a country like Brazil and in a beautiful city like Rio De Janeiro?
ER. It is a burden and a great satisfaction, I feel very lucky, Rio de Janeiro is one of the most beautiful cities in the world and is very fun and active. There is no price for meeting your artists on the beach. It’s wonderful to work in such a vibrant space; with artists that I see now as part of my family.