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Galeria Nara Roesler | Rio de Janeiro presents Retroatos (Retroactions), Cao Guimarães’ first show in the Rio venue, and the seventh since he began working with the gallery in 2002. In Retroatos, the curator Ricardo Sardenberg selected 18 various-sized photographs and a video culled from the artist’s archive, created at different points of his career and in different places.
This series sees Guimarães create boundlessly original portraits, underpinned by a subset of his poetic vocabulary according to which “seeing is a fable,” so well expressed in the title of one of his mid-career surveys (Itaú Cultural, 2013). To the show’s curator Ricardo Sardenberg, in working with this classic art format, Cao Guimarães omits precisely what one would first expect to find, i.e. a representation of the faces of one or more people. “It’s up to the viewer to intuit what’s at once absent and present,” he asserts.
But Sardenberg stresses that in its current sense, portrait is an ambiguous word when it comes to photography, since it implies two meanings. Its first definition is the image of a person interpreted through painting, drawing, sculpture, photography etc. But when it comes to photography specifically, any image is a portrait. One can make a portrait of a landscape, of a flower pot or even of a sculpture. “The Retroatos exhibit operates in that lexical gap,” he explains.
The curator also suggests that the zone of instability of the word portrait gives rise to a second lexical gap with the addition of the word retro, which implies the past, the time that has passed and will not come back. Throughout the history of photography, the portrait has always been associated with memory, with a repository of recollections. But first and foremost, Sardenberg notes, ‘retro’ means the back of something, the other side in space. This hints at a reversal of the famous saying ‘the eyes are the windows to the soul’ that is typical of portraits. “Thus, ‘retro’ here alludes to both space and time,” he concludes.
about the artist
Considered to be one of Brazil’s most prolific contemporary artist, Cao Guimarães works in the intersection of cinema and the visual arts. Producing films since the late 80s, the artist has been collected by prestigious names such as Tate Modern (United Kingdom), MoMA and the Guggenheim Museum (USA), Fondation Cartier (France), Colección Jumex (Mexico), Inhotim (Brazil), Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza (Spain) and others. He has participated of important exhibitions such as XXV and XXVII São Paulo Biennial, Brazil; Insite Biennial 2005, Mexico; Cruzamentos: Contemporary Art in Brazil, USA; Tropicália: The 60s in Brazil, Austria; Sharjah Biennial 11 Film Programme, United Arab Emirates and Ver é Uma Fábula, Brazil, a large mid-career survey with most of the artist’s works exhibited in Itaú Cultural, Brazil. He is the author of 9 feature films: The Man of the Crowd (2013), Otto (2012), Elvira Lorelay Alma de Dragón (2012), Ex It (2010), Drifter (2007), Accident (2006), The Soul of the Bone (2004), Two Way Street (2002) and The End of the Endless (2001). Cao Guimarães has been invited to display his films at renowned international film festivals such as Cannes, Locarno, Sundance, Venice, Rotterdam and Berlin. In 2011, MoMA held a retrospective of his films and in 2014, BAFICI (Buenos Aires) and Mexico’s Cinematheque also held retrospectives of his work. Cao Guimarães was born in 1965 in Belo Horizonte where he lives and works and has been represented by Galeria Nara Roesler since 2002.
about the gallery
Galeria Nara Roesler is a leading Brazilian contemporary art gallery, representing seminal Brazilian and international artists who emerged in the 1950’s as well as preeminent mid-career and emerging artists who dialog with the currents put forth by these historical figures. Founded by Nara Roesler in 1989, the gallery has consistently fomented curatorial practice while preserving the utmost quality in art production. This has actively been put into practice through a select and rigorous exhibitions program created in close collaboration with its artists; the implementation and fostering of the Roesler Hotel program, a platform for curatorial projects; and continued support of artists beyond the gallery space, working with institutions and curators in offsite shows. In 2012 the gallery doubled its São Paulo exhibition space, in 2014 expanded to Rio, and in 2015 opened in New York City, continuing its mission to provide the best platform for its artists to show their work.
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