Oiticica reached a crucial stage in what he described as ‘a search for the infinite dimension of colour as it relates to structure, space, and time’ with the Parangolé series. The Parangolés are capes, flags, banners and tents made from layers of painted fabric, plastics, mats, screens, ropes and other materials. Literally habitable paintings, they were designed to be worn or carried while dancing to the rhythm of samba. They represent the culmination of Oiticica’s unfolding of colour into the environment; dancers wearing the capes appear as ‘colour-in-motion’ to the spectators.
Oiticica began to develop these flexible colour structures as a result of his involvement with the people of Mangueira Hill, a Rio de Janeiro shanty town. The artist became a regular participant of Mangueira’s famous samba school and befriended many local dancers. His discovery of Mangueira, and its influence on his work, emphasises the importance for Oiticica of the lived experiences (vivências) that would become a visceral part of his work.
Ivan Cardoso: HO (1979)
Oiticica’s ideas about the embodiment of colour and his intentions for the Parangolés are demonstrated in Ivan Cardoso’s film HO. This film presents original footage of Oiticica and his collaborators manipulating works including the Parangolés, showing how he intended them to be worn and displayed. Some of the most important members of the Brazilian avant-garde appear in Cardoso’s film, including singer Caetano Veloso, writers Waly Salomão and Ferreira Gullar, and the artist Lygia Clark. Also included are some of Oiticica’s friends from the Mangueira shanty town, whose participation is equally important to the life of the Parangolés.