Hélio Oiticica: The Body of Colour
Tate Modern: Exhibition
6 June 23 September 2007
Hélio Oiticica, 'B11 Box Bólide 09' 1964
Hélio Oiticica
B11 Box Bólide 09 1964
Oil on wood and glass, pigment
object: 498 x 500 x 340 mm
Purchased with assistance from the American Fund for the Tate Gallery, Tate Members and the Art Fund 2007© Projeto Hélio Oiticica

Hélio Oiticica (1937–1980) was one of the most innovative Brazilian artists of his generation and has come to be acknowledged as a significant figure in the development of contemporary art. Among his achievements was the original and uncompromising use of colour that was central to his practice, and this is the first large-scale exhibition focusing on this key element in his work. Featuring more than 150 works, the exhibition includes several key series from 1955 onwards, some of which have not been seen publicly for more than thirty years.

Oiticica produced a remarkable body of work throughout his career, from abstract compositions to early environmental installations, in which he continually sought to challenge the way in which art could be experienced. This exhibition features works from Oiticica’s early career which show an obvious affinity with masters of modernism such as Paul Klee, Kasimir Malevich and Piet Mondrian, and yet already reveal a highly individual approach. Gradually colour is liberated from the picture plane and given spatial form in further series of works, which include suspended paintings and reliefs, sculptural objects, penetrable environments and ‘habitable paintings’ – capes, tents and banners designed to be worn or inhabited while moving to the rhythm of samba.

Exhibition organised by the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston with Tate Modern.

Organisation of this exhibition was made possible with the support of Petrobrasand in collaboration with the Projeto Hélio Oiticica, Rio de Janeiroand the Brazilian Ministry of Culture