Yuli Yamagata is a Brazilian multidisciplinary artist living and working in São Paulo. Her sculptures, paintings, and drawings centre on combining classic design with contemporary colour and textiles to create theatrical, anthropomorphic works that investigate themes of taste, self-image, and the grotesque.Read More
Born in São Paulo in 1989, Yamagata graduated with a BFA from the University of São Paulo in 2015, majoring in sculpture. Much of Yuli Yamagata's works originate from the cartoon-ish body parts depicted in comic books, while the other-wordly forms of her freestanding pieces stem from her attachment to American science fiction movies from the 1990s.
Sourcing fabrics in São Paulo's commercial shopping centres, such as Brás and Rue 25 de Marco, Yamagata creates soft sculptural works by cushioning together various fabrics, such as silk, crepe, velvet, and most frequently, lycra. The physicality of her work positions her closely with the morphed figures and accentuated limbs seen in work by Louise Bourgeois and Dorothea Tanning or, more recently, Sarah Lucas. Yamagata's depiction of quotidian objects also feeds into themes of consumption and self-image, aligning her practice with the critiques of commercialism prevalent in Pop art's pictorial lexicon.
Many of Yamagata's works also focus on the tension between two- and three- dimensional expression, as well as the relationship between the codes of painting and their mass-appropriated form. These artworks include Chiclete (2019), Polvo (2020), and Lingua dobrada (2020).
Speaking to her exploration of new materials and techniques, Yamagata explains to Ocula Advisory, 'I started to see that [my patterned fabrics] insert new narratives into the work. I also delved deep into my Japanese roots by reviving the ancient Japanese technique of shibori, popularly known as tie-dye, and brought this into my practice.' This technique can be seen in recent works, such as Cyborg trabalhando (2021) and Cyborg nascendo (2021).
Bruxa (Witch), Yamagata's first solo show at Portugal's Galeria Madragoa in September 2020, included paintings—a medium Yamagata picked up while in lockdown in Brazil during COVID-19. Speaking about the adoption of this medium in a 2020 Artsy publication, Yamagata reported, 'From March to August, I was not able to go to my studio, so I brought what I could home, like paper, canvas, and paintings. After eight years, it was the first time I started painting again.... Returning to painting helped me give shape to feelings of agony, panic, fear, anger, and hope, and that has been very powerful for me.'
Insomnia, Yamagata's first solo exhibition at Fortes D'Aloia & Gabriel, opened in May 2021 with 18 new pieces produced as part of her investigation into the filmmaker, David Lynch. She was specifically interested in the intangibility of his work: 'I'm interested to see how the mystery unfolds,' Yamagata states, 'Something one can't understand but is there. I like the pieces not to be immediately absorbed. The work doesn't linger in itself but within the viewers'.
Upcoming exhibitions include a solo show at Anton Kern Gallery, New York, opening in September 2021.
Yuli Yamagata's solo exhibitions include NERVO, MAC Niterói, Rio de Janeiro (2021); Microwave Your Friends, Invitro Gallery, Cluj (2019); Infiltraciones (Proyecto Visible), Pinta Miami (2018); Tropical Extravaganza: Paola and Paulina, Sesc Niterói, Rio de Janeiro(2018); Honra ao Mérito, UFRJ Fórum, Rio de Janeiro (2017); and Sem Cerimônia, Museu de Arte de Ribeirão Preto, São Paulo (2016).
Yuli Yamagata's group exhibitions include Pulse, Fortes D'Aloia & Gabriel Gallery, Rio de Janeiro (2020); Samba In The Dark, Anton Kern Gallery, New York (2020); Esqueci De Acordar, Diablo Rosso Gallery, Panama City (2020); A Burrice dos Homens, Bergamin & Gomide Gallery, São Paulo (2019); Exposição paralela Terry Winters, Olhão, São Paulo (2019); Rocambole, Kunsthalle Lissabon, Lisbon (2019); A Parte Maldita: um esboço SIM Gallery, São Paulo (2019); Rocambole, Pivot Art & Research, São Paulo (2018); Unidos da Barra Funda, Olhão, São Paulo (2018) and Midsummer Night's Dream, Satyros Theatre, São Paulo (2018).
Yuli Yamagata was nominated for the PIPA Prize in 2018 and 2019.
Annabel Downes | Ocula | 2021