At the beginning of 1961, Hélio Oiticica (1937 – 1980) wrote in his diary that the era of the end of canvas had begun. But, the artist from Rio de Janeiro emphasizes: “far from being ‘the death of painting’, it is its salvation, as death itself would be painting continuing to be the same as it always was. The first five years of the 1960s mark Oiticica’s search for “a new body for colors”, which is not restricted to the two-dimensionality of the wall – a “new order” in artistic productions, which previously encompassed only categories like painting, sculpture, and drawing. Thus, in Bilateral, Spatial reliefs and Nuclei, the colors move into the space and into painted wooden boards. It takes shape in the form of powdered pigment in Bólides, then acquires an architectural shape, as the walls in Penetrables and serves as a shelter in the shape of cloths that wrap around the body, the color swirling in space along with the samba dancer wearing the Parangolé.
In fact, the artist production between 1960 and 1965 is a revolution to the concept of art, a “revolutionary leap”, in the words of the art critic Guy Brett.
Hélio Oiticica’s great contribution is the transition from painting to life: everyday life is a work of art. Away from the canvas, painting would avoid being mistaken as a mere product, and would lead art to focus on other fundamental questions for human beings.
Projeto Hélio Oiticica Foundation – 1981
In 1981, Hélio Oiticica’s brothers, Cesar and Claudio, faced with the urgent challenge of keeping, preserving, studying and promoting his work, created the Projeto Hélio Oiticica, a non-profit association focused on these goals.
During its early days, Hélio’s colleagues and friends created a council, and with funds from selling other artists’ works which belonged to the family’s collection, the Projeto HO began in an apartment in Flamengo neighborhood, where, in addition to his works, the family’s archives and library were stored.
Early years – 1981 to 1996
The members of the project, despite working for free and during their free time, were responsible for a large number achievements, among which are the publication of the textbook Aspiro ao grande labirinto, and the retrospective exhibitions held in Rotterdam, Paris, Barcelona, Lisbon and Minneapolis with the publication of their respective catalogues. In addition, there were 16 exhibitions in Brazil, 10 of which were collective exhibitions and six individual, and 12 exhibitions abroad, 11 of which were collective and one individual.
Hélio Oiticica Art Center – 1996 to 2008
After the retrospective exhibitions, there was an attempt to implement a more professional administration in the Project, so that it would move quickly towards achieving its goals.
In 1996, the Hélio Oiticica Art Center was inaugurated with the great retrospective exhibition that had toured Europe and the United States.
During this period, its collection was part of 39 exhibitions in Brazil (11 individual and 28 collective exhibitions), and 51 exhibitions abroad (9 individual and 42 collective exhibitions).
The Reopening of Hélio Oiticica Art Center – 2021
The Hélio Oiticica Art Center at Praça Tiradentes was reopened on May 11th, 2021, on the Brazilian National Culture Day, in partnership with the Municipal Department of Culture and Projeto Hélio Oiticica, with two unpublished works by Hélio Oiticica that are part of the collection:
“PN10“: created in 1971 for an art grant at the Guggenheim Foundation. It was designed to be installed in Central Park. This project is part of the “Subterranean Tropicalia Projects” series and, now, 50 years later, it will be installed on Rua Imperatriz Leopoldina, in the open. It is composed of metallic structure, wood, vinyl, canvas and nylon screens. The rectangles present in the project consist of orange tarpaulins to filter the light that reflect on the empty space inside the artwork.
“CC2 On Object Private”: this second unique penetrable will be installed inside and is part of the “Cosmococa Program in Progress” series.
One thing that is worth mentioning is the promotion of digitized files with Oiticica’s texts which started in 2005, making them available to a growing number of students and researchers from Brazil and abroad who come to the Projeto HO eager for information for their master’s thesis and doctoral dissertations.
This specific and permanent support is a unique way of promoting the artist’s thoughts and also of contributing to art history.
The Projeto HO personnel is trained to work as a team. They are a team of people who are flexible, united and love what they do.
Jair da Rocha Oliveira is a draftsman, an Autocad wizard and a tireless worker. He is up-to-date in everything related to design and drawing. He is precise, dedicated and a perfectionist. He was personally responsible for the research overhead.
Ariane Pereira de Figueredo is a meticulous researcher. She has been working on the project since the research for the digitization of Hélio Oiticica’s archives. She is the author of Hélio Oiticica’s definitive chronology and she is also our specialist in canvas, fabrics, Parangolés, in addition to supervising the shipment and the receiving of artworks.
Vanessa Ribeiro Sortica is an excellent executive secretary. She is responsible for all administrative activities on her own, from finance, HR, to communication and purchases.
Cristiano Silva Fernandes is a tireless worker. He started out as an assistant and today, thanks to his incredible ability to learn everything quickly, he supervises and maintains all the systems in the building, while helping all the other team members.
Jorge Marcello Filho is an archaeologist. He works restoring and recovering photographs and letters, in addition to performing different tasks that are required of him.
In support services, we have Olimpia Regina dos Santos Souza as our chef and Ana Sant’Ana de Figueiredo who is responsible for cleaning. Both of them are excellent professionals, they are punctual and dedicated.