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ART X Lagos: Nigeria’s Art Renaissance Ocula Report ART X Lagos: Nigeria’s Art Renaissance 17 November 201817 Nov 2018 : Jareh Das for Ocula

Nigeria's art scene has flourished over the last decade, leading to a renewed interest in cultivating and supporting modern and contemporary art in the country. Ranked Africa's largest economy in 2017, making up 0.8 percent of the world's GDP, a surge in wealth amongst some individuals has led to a developing collector base (not to mention rising...

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Shanghai's West Bund and Art021 fairs overlap in 2018 Ocula Report Shanghai's West Bund and Art021 fairs overlap in 2018 17 November 201817 Nov 2018 : Diana d’Arenberg for Ocula

The last time I visited West Bund Art & Design was four years ago, when the fair was in its first year of operation: a small, boutique offering held in a cavernous hangar that seemed too big for it. Much has changed since then. Mirroring the rapid development of the city itself, West Bund has grown from 25 galleries in 2014 to a fair that...

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Antonio Dias was a Brazilian artist recognised for his vast body of often politically charged, conceptual artworks that traverse figuration and abstraction.

Dias' early works are characterised by graphic, cartoonish imagery, which was reminiscent of Brazilian cordel literature and playing cards. References to violence also feature widely in his works, such as in the painting Querida, você está bem? (Darling, are you Alright?) (1964), in which amorphous and abstracted human bodies seem to exhale smoke or blood. In his conversation with Ocula Magazine in 2018, art historian and critic Paulo Sérgio Duarte—curator of Tazibao and other works, Dias' 2018 retrospective at Galeria Nara Roesler in São Paulo—explained that the artist's graphic imagery was in response to the political climate of the time, notably the outset of a military regime in Brazil in 1964. Dias used body parts to allude to political concerns, replacing, for example, the nuclear mushroom with male genitalia, a recurring motif in his oeuvre. In Acidente no Jogo (1964), a red phallus protrudes from a black box alongside a white bone and a red clover-like form with a skull painted on it.

In 1966, Dias left his country and settled in Paris. He relocated to Milan two years later, where he met artists associated with the Arte Povera movement—among them Luciano Fabro and Giulio Paolini—and turned away from figuration towards a narrower palette and more conceptual works. His series 'Illustration of Art' (1971–8), for example, encompasses paintings, installations, sculptures and films. In The Illustration of Art I (1971)—one of the silent films made with a Super 8 camera—two bandages cross over wounded skin until it heals. During this period, Dias also began printing letters on often monochromatic, gridded paintings, giving them titles such as The Prison (1968) and Occupied Country (1971) to reflect his experiences of living in self-imposed exile.

Between 1977 and 1978, Dias spent five months in a remote village in Nepal learning the traditional Nepalese craft of papermaking. Created by mixing materials such as soot, clay and iron oxide with paper, his new medium generated soft, muted colours and texture that signalled yet another stylistic shift in the artist's work. In The Illustration of Art / Tool & Work (1972), a pair of handmade papers show the handprints of Dias and a local.

In the 1990s, Dias resumed working with a brighter colour palette and painterly form, with the addition of metallic pigments. He began arranging canvases and small objects into sculptural compositions such as in Cranks (1999), which comprises two canvases—one copper leaf and the other painted in red—flanking a larger grey painting like a pair of ears. Two elongated and phallic rods dangle from the bottom of the central canvas, adding a whimsical quality to the work. In Untitled (2011)—a row of three large canvases of the same size with two smaller paintings mounted on them—the abstract, swirling pattern of the red painting is in a permanent state of tension with the grid patterns that surround it.

Dias' work has often been associated with the Pop art movement. Dias agreed to show his work in the group exhibitions International Pop at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis and The World Goes Pop at Tate Modern, London, in 2015. However, in an interview with The New York Times in 2015, he stated: 'I always protest when I'm accused of being Pop—it's not my party', noting that he agreed to participate only because the shows promised to look again at the early 1960s. In his interview with Ocula Magazine, Duarte also noted that Dias' practice departed significantly not only from the lighter mood of American Pop art but also from the genre itself in that Dias never used ready-made commodities. He was exposed to the works of Brazilian avantgarde artists such as Hélio Oiticica, Lygia Clark and Lygia Pape, who were associated with Grupo Frente, a movement that rejected the then-prevalent nationalist tendencies in Brazilian modernist painting, and concrete art which advocated for the use of geometric forms and unmodulated colours and a dismissal of symbolic meaning. In the late 1960s, Dias also aligned with fellow Brazilian artists to partake in the tropicália movement, which sought to uncover the harsh realities under the increasingly autocratic Brazilian government, and responded to the Nova Figuração (New Figuration) movement, becoming one of its leading proponents to revive figuration in art.

Dias' work has been exhibited internationally including at Sharjah Art Foundation (2018); Galeria Nara Roesler, São Paulo (2018, 2016); Beijing Minsheng Art Museum (2017); and Philadelphia Museum of Art (2016). His work is also in the collections of Fondazione Marconi, Milan; Museum of Modern Art, Rio de Janeiro; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; and Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo, among others.

Sherry Paik | Ocula | 2018
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Featured Artworks

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Ta Tze Bao by Antonio Dias contemporary artwork Antonio DiasTa Tze Bao, 1972 14 sheets of red paper and 14 flag's shaped canvase painted in red
Galeria Nara Roesler Request price & availability
Black Mirror by Antonio Dias contemporary artwork Antonio DiasBlack Mirror, 1968 Wood and formica
30 x 22.2 x 5.5 cm
Galeria Nara Roesler Request price & availability
Your husband by Antonio Dias contemporary artwork Antonio DiasYour husband, 2002 Empty beverage cans, lycra
Galeria Nara Roesler Request price & availability
Untitled by Antonio Dias contemporary artwork Antonio DiasUntitled, 2015 Gold leaf, copper and acrylic on canvas
90 x 98 cm
Galeria Nara Roesler Request price & availability
Cannon meat by Antonio Dias contemporary artwork Antonio DiasCannon meat, 1986 Mixed media on canvas
60 x 140 cm
Galeria Nara Roesler Request price & availability
Destruction Factory by Antonio Dias contemporary artwork Antonio DiasDestruction Factory, 1986 Mixed media on canvas
159 x 118 cm
Galeria Nara Roesler Request price & availability
Territories for worms by Antonio Dias contemporary artwork Antonio DiasTerritories for worms, 1977/78 Handmade paper, cellulose with clay, iron oxide and soot
55 x 192 cm
Galeria Nara Roesler Request price & availability
Hammering Walls by Antonio Dias contemporary artwork Antonio DiasHammering Walls, 1977/78 Handmade paper, cellulose with clay, iron oxide and soot
70 x 145 cm
Galeria Nara Roesler Request price & availability

Recent Exhibitions

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Contemporary art exhibition, Antonio Dias, Tazibao e outras obras (Tazibao and other works) at Galeria Nara Roesler,
Closed
1 September–3 November 2018 Antonio Dias Tazibao e outras obras (Tazibao and other works)Galeria Nara Roesler, São Paulo
Contemporary art exhibition, Antonio Dias, Papéis do Nepal at Galeria Nara Roesler,
Closed
4 April–4 June 2016 Antonio Dias Papéis do NepalGaleria Nara Roesler, São Paulo
Contemporary art exhibition, Group Exhibition, O Corpo e a Obra de Arte (The Body and the Work of Art) at Galeria Nara Roesler,
Closed
20 February–26 March 2016 Group Exhibition O Corpo e a Obra de Arte (The Body and the Work of Art)Galeria Nara Roesler, São Paulo

Represented By

Ocula Magazine

Paulo Sérgio Duarte on Antonio Dias Ocula Conversation Paulo Sérgio Duarte on Antonio Dias Art historian, critic and curator

In 1963, at the age of 19, Antonio Dias emerged as one of the leading artists in Brazil with confrontational paintings like Ahh! (1963), in which red and black cartoon figures appear to fuse together as they engage in hair-raising combat. As the military dictatorship took power in 1964, transformations in art and culture exposed Dias to the...

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Related Press

Remembering the Fragile Unity of Brazilian artist Antonio Dias (1944–2018) Related Press Remembering the Fragile Unity of Brazilian artist Antonio Dias (1944–2018) Frieze : 18 August 2018

On 1 August, Brazilian artist Antonio Dias lost a long battle to cancer at the age of 74. Beginning in the 1960s, the artist produced a vast body of work that, in formal and conceptual terms, stood in stark contrast to the sunny output of the previous decade.

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ANTONIO DIAS (1944–2018) Related Press ANTONIO DIAS (1944–2018) Artforum : 9 August 2018

THE MORNING AFTER the opening of Antonio Dias's 2009 retrospective at Daros, Zurich, the news broke that a fire in Rio had consumed the vast majority of Hélio Oiticica's work.

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Antonio Dias, Brazilian Artist Who Poked the Generals, Dies at 74 Related Press Antonio Dias, Brazilian Artist Who Poked the Generals, Dies at 74 The New York Times : 6 August 2018

Antonio Dias, a Brazilian artist whose early, hot-coloured paintings needled his country’s military dictatorship, and who later turned to subtly political conceptual art while in self-imposed European exile, died on Aug. 1 in Rio de Janeiro. He was 74.

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When the World Went Pop Related Press When the World Went Pop The New York Times : 11 April 2015

For art lovers, and certainly for the collectors now paying tens of millions of dollars per painting at auction, Pop art and its trademark images — Marilyns, Ben-Day dots, Coca-Cola bottles, lipsticked lips — have become 20th century classicism, as canonical as Cubism and as appealing as candy. But for many artists working...

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