Hélio Oiticica  Untitled, White Series (Série branca) 1959

Hélio Oiticica
Untitled, White Series (Série branca) 1959
Gouache on cardboard
César and Claudio Oiticica Collection, Rio de Janeiro

Série Branca (White Series) and Bilaterals

The Série Branca (White Series) is a group of white-on-white paintings never exhibited before and only recently restored for this exhibition.

In this series Oiticica explored ways of using casein emulsion with oil-based paint to control the density of the pigment and produce different tones of white. He also experimented with layering and brush techniques to maximise the effect of light on the colour. Later, he referred to white as ‘the ideal colour-light, the synthesis-light of all colours’.

This series also marks the beginning of a period during which Oiticica made a theoretical and technical investigation of the temporal dimension of painting. He called this ‘côr-tempo’ (colour-time), and integrated the results of his research into his experiments with colour.

His research made a significant contribution to intellectual and artistic debates in Brazil at the time. In 1960 Oiticica joined the Neo-Concrete group, a Rio-based movement that broke with the principles of the Concrete movement, that had originated in São Paulo, by reacting against its extreme rationalism and advocating an expanded creative freedom.