Exhibition / Museum
"Mutations/Creations 3"20 Feb - 15 Apr 2019
The event is over
As part of "Mutations/Creations 3", discover the first large-scale exhibition in Europe devoted to Erika Verzutti. In an original layout that fills up the whole space, a body of work is deployed, full of animal and vegetal associations, asserting the right to be undisciplined, going against the grain of a neo-modernist and conceptual trend.
"Mutations/Creations", the annual creation and innovation laboratory at the Centre Pompidou questions the links between the arts, science, engineering and innovation. The cycle brings together artists, engineers, scientists and entrepreneurs, all the protagonists of the sensory and the intelligible, who affect and transgress our present. For its third edition, the event brings together the visual and digital arts, design and speech, in the course of a collective exhibition: "Designing the Living [La Fabrique du Vivant]", the first personal and monographic exhibition in Europe of the Brazilian artist Erika Verzutti, and the third edition of the Vertigo forum, conducted by the Ircam.
11am - 9pm, every days except tuesdays
Curator's point of view
The Centre Pompidou is hosting the first major European exhibition of the Brazilian artist Erika Verzutti, born in 1971 and based in São Paulo. Going against the tide of a neo-modernist and conceptual trend, this artist has spent almost twenty years proclaiming indiscipline through a body of work tinted with a Venusian sensuality and a wild sense of humour, teeming with animals, fruit and plants.
She has designed an original and unique installation to occupy the entire space of Galerie 3, combining her sculptures in bronze, ceramic, cement or papier mâché and often painted. At a time when several artists seek to integrate the living into their work, to embrace the organic in a fascination for technological innovations which modify human beings and their perception of themselves, Erika Verzutti sees it as a vital process in itself, embracing the principles of generation and indiscipline. The exhibition layout is built around several islands grouping ‘families’ of sculptures; the artist intentionally evokes her works as beings linked together, firstly in her imagination and secondly in their materiality, as one work often leads to another. There is Tarsila, a tribute to Brazilian surrealist artist Tarsila do Amaral; Missionaries; Turtles; the Brasilia family, a reference to Brazil in the 1960s, or Cemeteries, consisting of rejected and failed sculptures. Her first papier mâché in 2014 after a decade of ceramic and bronze works, is entitled Grandfather and gave rise to a whole lineage. The egg, a motif in several sculptures, also constitutes a metaphor for ‘fertile’ works. ‘Producing a work is like breaking an egg’, she says with her characteristic sense of humour.
Nevertheless, this internal generation in her work retains a carefree appearance thanks to a highly personal approach, rich in intricacies and surprises, and also because Erika Verzutti captures the world in 360°, without establishing any hierarchy between the elements that grab her attention, from the living world to art history to the culture of the GAFA giants (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon). Her sculptural approach is fed in equal parts by determination, desire, sensual and Venusian power, doubts, flaws and chaos. It took her a certain amount of nerve to produce, in the 2000s, a work of humorous, even ironic, dimensions with an unfinished aspect, at a time when Brazilian art was dominated by neo-concrete modernism. It was thus counter-current to this history, to which she allowed herself an occasional return visit that she emerged on the artistic scene after a few years of trial and error.
At the Centre Pompidou, Erika Verzutti confronts her work head on with the architectural space in its entirety. A monumental new work depicting a swan forms the base for the artist’s sculptures, a sort of mother figure at the heart of this huge tribe.
In the course of fifteen years, she has explored sculpture in its broadest dimensions and here she transforms the museum space itself into a sort of total work of art. Her giant swan occupies the centre of Galerie 3, supporting several other works in smaller format and taking this initial approach of generation and indiscipline, the characteristics of life. The classification of her works by family should not be taken as a strict logic, rather a sometimes permeable regrouping without any real subject or theme. The subject is never the primary focus of her work; in her own words, it is more of a ‘conversation’ between the artist and her sculpture in its creative process. These ‘families’ have no real theme and follow an ambiguous rule. Appearances are deceptive and playful: a sculpture formed from a banana cast turns out to be an insect. A kiss is shaped from a beetroot and celery. Bronze takes on the appearance of stone and papier mâché looks like rubber, for instance. In a more intimate cabinet, Erika Verzutti presents relief murals in bronze or cement, often layered with paint, like make-up.
The ‘feminist’ dimension of Verzutti’s sculpture constitutes a crucial element of her work, occasionally inverting genders and playing with the fascination for femininity and all its clichés: curvy buttocks, the reference to make-up and ‘sexy’ clothing such as the bikini, or the profession of call-girl.
Ultimately, Verzutti’s sculpture constantly advocates order tinted with insubordination, like joy and freedom or the energy of life itself.
In Code couleur n°33 january-april 2019, p. 16-19