Hélio Oiticica Bilateral 1959

Hélio Oiticica
Bilateral 1959
Oil-casein emulsion on wood fibreboard
César and Claudio Oiticica Collection, Rio de Janeiro

Série Branca (White Series) and Bilaterals

As a result of his work on the White Series, Oiticica had reached a point where he was looking for new ways either to let space into a painting, or to open it up to its surroundings. This gave rise to the Bilaterais (Bilaterals): a new form somewhere between painting and architecture. Oititica called them ‘paintings in space’.

The first of the series – the Bilateral Equali – consists of five squares or ‘canvases’ arranged in space hanging from the ceiling. These squares are composed of two-toned white areas and suggest virtual cubes.

In the rest of the Bilaterals, the artist cuts the planes into irregular shapes. These two-sided, two-toned (white-on-white) works still require active engagement; you have to walk around them to see both sides. They invite exploration and, like the White Series, offer a quiet, contemplative experience.