Hélio Oiticica Maquette for Magic Square No 05 1978
Hélio Oiticica
Invention of Colour, Maquette for Magic Square No 05, Rio de Janeiro 1978
Acrylic on wood; acrylic on wire screen;
115 x 600 x 600 mm

Invention of Colour (1977)

From 1966 Oiticica’s art extended the ideas he had begun to explore in the Bólides, Parangolés and Penetrables. His work began to make greater use of appropriation and often took the form of multi-sensory environments or events. But he did not abandon his interest in colour, and in the late 1970s he returned to his investigations on the subject with a series of architectural models, or maquettes, which he called ‘Invention of Colour’.

These constructions were conceived as large, open-air Penetrables, like the Hunting Dogs Project of 1961. The squares (which for Oiticica signified both a geometric figure and a piazza) consisted of a configuration of fixed or flexible square planes, painted in primary colours and in white. Floors of white sand were designed to reflect the colour of the panels and the sunlight.

Hunting Dogs Project (1961)

In 1961, with his large-scale model for Projeto Cães de Caça (Hunting Dogs Project), Oiticica once again entered new territory: the environmental, labyrinthine structures he referred to as ‘Penetrables’. Like all Oiticica’s maquettes, the model for the Hunting Dogs Project (which took its title from a group of stars in the constellation of Orion) was considered a work of art in its own right. Conceived as a monumental magic garden for intense aesthetic experience, it incorporated sand gardens and leisure areas for the appreciation of music, poetry and theatre. Had it ever been built, it would have measured 80 by 80 metres. The Hunting Dogs Project can be seen as the quintessence of Neo-Concrete ideals: the spectator’s participation in the work of art; the fusion of art and life; and the interaction of the different arts.

The experience of colour is still at the heart of the project. Oiticica painted the walls and floors of these structures in vivid tones of yellow, orange and white. In walking through the cabins, climbing steps, and pushing moveable walls, the viewer was to encounter colour and its reflection while exploring the structure.