Antonio Dias (1944–2018) is one of the leading figures in 20th century Brazilian art, having achieved international recognition early on in his career, during the mid-1960s. His early offerings were politically-infused drawings, paintings and assemblages permeated by elements from Brazilian Neo-Figurativism and Pop Art, which earned him the status of representative of New Brazilian Figuration and got him into the IV La Biennale de Paris (1965), whose painting prize he won. His practice, however, converses with the legacy of the concrete and neo-concrete movements, as well as the revolutionary drive of Tropicália.Read More
The Biennale de Paris prize enabled him to travel across Europe, and following a stint in Paris he settled in Milan. There, he embraced a conceptual approach, creating paintings, films, videos, documentation and artist’s books, and tapping into each of those mediums to question the meaning of art. In approaching eroticism, sex and political oppression in a playful, subversive way, he built an unparalleled, conceptual oeuvre brimming with formal elegance, interspersed with political issues and scathing critiques of the art system. In the 1980s, he turned to painting anew, experimenting with metallic and mineral pigments like gold, copper, iron oxide and graphite, mixed with various binders. Most of his works from this period boast a metallic sheen and contain a wide variety of symbols—bones, crosses, rectangles, phalluses—reminiscent of his earliest works.
Antonio Dias’ work has been featured in over a hundred solo and group shows in major venues around the world. Recent solo shows include: Anywhere Is My Land, São Paulo State Art Gallery (Pinacoteca), São Paulo (2010), and Daros Latinamerica, Zurich, Switzerland (2009–2010); and Antonio Dias–O país inventado, featured in several Brazilian venues from 2000 to 2003, including the Rio de Janeiro Museum of Modern Art (MAM-RJ) and the São Paulo Museum of Modern Art (MAM-SP). Group shows include: Memories of Underdevelopment: Art and the Decolonial Turn in Latin America, 1960–1985, at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD) in San Diego, USA, as part of II Pacific Standard Time: LA/LA (2017); International Pop, Philadelphia Museum of Art in Philadelphia, and the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, USA (2015–2016); The World Goes Pop, Tate Modern, London, UK (2015–2016); Transmissions: Art in Eastern Europe and Latin America, 1960–1980, The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York, USA (2015), and Made in Brasil, Casa Daros, Rio de Janeiro (2015). His work was also featured in several biennial shows, including the São Paulo Art Biennial (1981, 1994, 1998 and 2010), the Mercosur Biennial (1997, 2005) and La Biennale de Paris (1965, 1973). Dias’ art is in major institutional collections around the world, including: Coleção Sattamini–MAC-Niterói, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Daros Latinamerica Collection, Zurich, Switzerland; Instituto Itaú Cultural, São Paulo, Brazil; Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany; Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (MALBA), Buenos Aires, Argentina; São Paulo Museum of Modern Art (MAM-SP), São Paulo, Brazil; The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York, USA; and São Paulo State Art Gallery (Pinacoteca), São Paulo, Brazil.
Text courtesy Galeria Nara Roesler.