Press Release

First Solo US Museum Exhibition for Brazilian Artist Paulo Nazareth Opens at ICA Miami on May 16

Event Date: 
16 May 2019
Miami, FL
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Melee Features Several Monumental Newly Commissioned Series

The Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA Miami) announces the first solo US museum exhibition for Paulo Nazareth (b. 1977), on view this spring. Opening May 16, Melee spans Nazareth’s work across mediums, including monumental and ephemeral sculpture, photography, video, and installations. Drawing on his Afro-Brazilian and Indigenous heritages, Nazareth brings the histories of marginalized groups into focus in an exhibition that is relevant to both the global and local Brazilian diaspora, while speaking to broad political conversations on issues of injustice and oppression. Organized by Alex Gartenfeld, Artistic Director, and Gean Moreno, Curator of Programs, and on view through October 6, the exhibition builds on ICA Miami’s history of providing the first US museum platform for both emerging and established contemporary artists and engaging audiences with the most innovative artists of today. 

“ICA Miami’s exhibitions and programs explore untold histories and important topical issues through the methods of the most innovative contemporary artists working today,” said Gartenfeld. “Nazareth’s work is multidisciplinary, ambitious, and offers a distinct point of view that is not only relevant to Miami’s diaspora community, but also across the U.S. and internationally. With this first U.S. solo museum exhibition of Nazareth’s work, we invite audiences to engage with challenging, but important issues and ideas, and aim to advance critical scholarship on the artist and the ways that contemporary art can address key social and political questions.”

“As an artist with a focus on the Afro-Brazilian and Indigenous legacies, Paulo Nazareth’s work evokes issues, from rigid socioeconomic divisions to prevailing injustices, that chronically plague both Brazil and the rest of the Americas, including the US,” said Moreno. “In his ongoing investigation into common historical narratives, Nazareth opens a space of discussion and critique around contemporary societal fissures and systemic oppression.”

With Melee, Nazareth highlights overlooked historical figures of Latin America and explores ways to expand the conversation on cultural production. The exhibition features several new works, including new commission series made specifically for the exhibition. The first presents 49 bronze medals depicting marginalized figures in Latin America, including Indigenous leaders and guerilla fighters. Displayed atop 50 pedestals, with one left empty to signify a continuing history yet to be written, the medals unearth a new perspective on Latin America. The second series features 13 flags of utopian countries who maintained social and political arrangements that managed to avoid the rigid polarizations of the Cold War. Alongside these two new bodies of work, Nazareth will show eleven newly-created portraits of Brazil’s embattled ex-president Lula— bringing focus to the recent Right turn in Brazilian politics.

In addition to these monumental commissions, Melee features Nazareth’s recent work in painting, sculpture, photography, and video that examine areas in culture across the Americas where prejudices have emerged, from the consumer realm to the swimming pool. Works on view include four new additions to Nazareth’s existing “Genocide Products” series. The new works are the largest and most ambitious in this series to date. Visitors also encounter recent works exploring the long history of segregation in the Americas, particularly in relation to access to public institutions and resources. The drawings and photographs that comprise "Blacks in the Pool" demonstrate how discriminatory practices have emerged around public swimming pools and other bodies of water. Additionally, the artist presents an installation that reprises his project The Red Inside (2016-2018), which was first generated for Prospect New Orleans. Beginning in Louisiana and traveling all the way to Canada, the project involved the artist following the route of the Underground Railroad. Alongside this voyage, Nazareth cast concrete watermelons—sacred fruits in a number of African contexts—using water drawn from the Mississippi River as his material.

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Paolo Nazareth, "Untitled," from "Mi Imagen de Hombre Exotico" series, 2011, Courtesy the artist and Mendes Wood DM, São Paulo/New York/Brussels.

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