Reading time: 4 minutes
Instituto Tomie Ohtake & Museu de Arte de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil
June 28, 2018 – October 21, 2018
More than 400 works, over five centuries of production, from around 210 artists from Brazil and abroad, from various contexts and times, occupy both institutions. At Instituto Tomie Ohtake, two exhibition rooms will be occupied, while at MASP all the temporary exhibition spaces will be dedicated to the show.
Among the participating artists there are names such as Aaron Douglas, Abdias do Nascimento, Albert Eckhout, Alma Thomas, Andy Warhol, Antônio Bandeira, Antônio Obá, Archibald Motley Jr., Arthur Bispo do Rosário, Barkley L. Hendricks, Beauford Delaney, Ben Enwonwu, Benny Andrews, Ibrahim Mahama, Cândido Portinari, Carlos Vergara, Carybé, Cícero Dias, Dalton Paula, Djanira da Motta e Silva, Edna Manley, Ellen Gallagher, Emanoel Araujo, Emiliano Di Cavalcanti, Emma Amos, Emory Douglas, Ernest Mancoba, Faith Ringgold, Frans Post, Gerard Sekoto, Glenn Ligon, Hank Willis Thomas, Heitor dos Prazeres, Howardena Pindell, Ibrahim El-Salahi, Jacob Lawrence, Jaime Lauriano, Jean-Baptiste Debret, Johann Moritz Rugendas, Joshua Reynolds, Kara Walker, Loïs Mailou Jones, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Maria Auxiliadora da Silva, Marlene Dumas, Mestre Didi, Nina Chanel Abney, Norman Lewis, Paul Cézanne, Paulo Nazareth, Pedro Figari, Pierre Verger, Radcliffe Bailey, Romare Bearden, Rosana Paulino, Rubem Valentim, Sıdney Amaral, Sônia Gomes, Theaster Gates, Théodore Géricault, Titus Kaphar, Toyin Odutola, Uche Okeke and Wilfredo Lam.
The exhibition has borrowed works from important private and institutional collections from around the world, including: Metropolitan Museum, New York; J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; National Gallery of Art, Washington; Menil Collection, Houston; Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence; Musée du Quai Branly, Paris, National Portrait Gallery, London; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; National Gallery of Denmark (SMK), Copenhagen; Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de La Habana, Cuba; and National Gallery of Jamaica.
Throughout 2018, MASP dedicates its entire exhibition and activities programs to African-Atlantic histories and narratives. These histories don’t refer to the slavery period alone – when African populations were forcefully taken from the continent and enslaved in the European colonies in the Americas and the Caribbean –, but especially about the “flows and reflows” (as Pierre Verger famously put it) between these Atlantic populations, from the 16th century up to contemporary times. This cycle began in March, and has already presented projects like Imagens do Aleijadinho; Maria Auxiliadora da Silva: vida cotidiana, pintura e resistência; and Emanoel Araujo, a ancestralidade dos símbolos: África-Brasil. During the following months, the museum will organize solo shows of Lucia Laguna, Melvin Edwards, Pedro Figari, Rubem Valentim and Sonia Gomes.
The collective exhibition Histórias afro-atlânticas brings together, in a historical unprecedented partnership, two of the most important cultural institutions in São Paulo: MASP and Instituto Tomie Ohtake. This is the consequence of the “Histórias mestiças” (Mestizo Histories), realized in 2014, at Instituto Tomie Ohtake, curated by Adriano Pedrosa and Lilia Schwarcz, who also are also the curators for this new exhibit, together with Ayrson Heráclito and Hélio Menezes, guest curators, and Tomás Toledo, assistant curator.
Histórias afro-atlânticas presents over 400 pieces by more than 200 artists, from the MASP collection as well as from Brazilian and international collections, including drawings, paintings, sculptures, films, videos, installations, and photographs, as well as documents and publications, and African, European, Latin and North-American, Caribbean art, among others. The loans came from some of the most important private, museum and institutional collections around the globe, among which: Metropolitan Museum, New York; J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; National Gallery of Art, Washington; Menil Collection, Houston; Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence; Musée du Quai Branly, Paris; National Portrait Gallery, London; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; National Gallery of Denmark (SMK), Copenhagen; Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de La Habana, Cuba; and National Gallery of Jamaica.
The show is organized around central themes, some of which were already present in “Histórias mestiças”. At MASP, the themes are: Mapas e margens (Maps and margins); Vida cotidiana (Daily life); Festas e religiões (Celebrations and religions); Retratos (Portraits); Modernismos afro-atlânticos (African-Atlantic Modernisms); Rotas e transes: África, Jamaica, Bahia (Routes and trances: Africa, Jamaica, Bahia). And at Instituto Tomie Ohtake: Emancipações (Emancipations); Ativismos e resistências (Activism and resistance). Within each theme, different artistic movements, geographies, times and materials are stressed and confronted, without any chronological, encyclopedic or retrospective obligations. Histórias afro-atlânticas seeks to offer a panorama of the various possible histories concerning bilateral exchanges—cultural, symbolic, artistic etc.—represented in images from Africa, Europe, the Americas and the Caribbean.
It is important to emphasize that Brazil is a key territory in these histories, for it received around 40% of all enslaved Africans that were taken from their countries during more than 300 years in order to serve as slaves on this side of the Atlantic (a sum that adds up to twice the amount of Portuguese people who came to colonize the country). In a perverse way, Brazil was also the last nation to officially abolish slavery, in 1888, through the “Lei Áurea”, which celebrates its 130th anniversary this May.
Histórias afro-atlânticas is organized independently and in a non-linear set-up between both institutions; there is no right order to visit it. At Instituto Tomie Ohtake, there will be two rooms dedicated to the exhibition; at MASP, all temporary exhibition spaces will be occupied.