Abraham Palatnik is a seminal figure of Brazilian kinetic and optical art. His interests lie in technology and the study of motion and light, the realms responsible for the functional, playful, poetic results that made his work known over seven decades’ worth of output. He rose to prominence in the art scene after creating his first Aparelho Cinecromático (Kinechromatic Device, 1949), whereby he set out to reinvent painting practice through light interplay and by relying on technological apparatus to create kaleidoscopic images on screen. Shown in the 1st Bienal de São Paulo (1951), his light installation was not included in the grand prize competition because it didn’t fit any of the art categories then in existence, but its originality won it an honourable mention from the international jury.Read More
Palatnik has control over the entire production of his pieces, which denotes less of an artisanal view of technology than it does an availability to experiment and take on production challenges. Instead of the fascination of some contemporary art for new media, the artist has focused since the outset of his career on the possibilities of machines and their processes, evoking a specific art-technology relationship.
His later series of progressions and reliefs in assorted materials, like wood, duplex cardboard and acrylic, also betray his interest in kinetic and optical effects, achieved through meticulous craftsmanship. The result is abstract compositions marked by rhythmic patterns reminiscent of the irregular movement—although his famed 'W' series incorporated laser cuts made by a specialised company. Palatnik still arranges each of his pieces by hand, after cutting and painting them to complete his pictures.
Abraham Palatnik was born in Natal, Brazil (1928) and lives and works in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. His work has been featured in numerous exhibitions in Brazil and elsewhere, including eight editions of the Bienal de São Paulo, Brazil (1951–1969), and the 32nd La Biennale di Venezia, Italy (1964). A recent, major career-spanning show of his, Abraham Palatnik – A Reinvenção da Pintura [Abraham Palatnik – The Reinvention of Painting], was featured in several Brazilians venues including: Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil Rio de Janeiro (CCBB-RJ), Rio de Janeiro (2017); Fundação Iberê Camargo (FIC), Porto Alegre (2015); Museu Oscar Niemeyer (MON), Curitiba (2014); Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo (MAM-SP), São Paulo (2014); and Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil Brasília (CCBB-DF), Brasília/DF (2013). Main recent group show include: The Other Trans-Atlantic: Kinetic & Op Art in Central & Eastern Europe and Latin America 1950s–1970s, Sesc Pinheiros, São Paulo, Brazil (2018), Garage Museum of Contemporary Art, Moscow, Russia (2018), and Museum of Modern Art in Warsaw, Warsaw, Poland (2017–2018); Delirious: Art at the Limits of Reason, 1950–1980, The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met Breuer), New York, USA (2018); and Kinesthesia: Latin American Kinetic Art 1954–1969, Palm Springs Art Museum (PSAM), Palm Springs, USA (2017–2018). His works are included in important institutional collections, such as: Itaú Cultural, São Paulo, Brazil; Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro (MAM Rio), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo (MAM-SP), São Paulo, Brazil; Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium, Brussels, Belgium; The Adolpho Leirner Collection of Brazilian Constructive Art–Museum of Fine Arts Houston (MFAH), Houston, EUA; and The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York, USA.
Text courtesy Galeria Nara Roesler.
One of the highlights of Frieze New York last month was this gallery’s presentation of Abraham Palatnik, an octogenarian Brazilian artist whose Kinechromatic Devices, 1951–2004, helped to pioneer kinetic light art during the mid-twentieth century. Though included in venues such as the first Bienal de São Paulo in 1951, and the...
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