Contemporary Brazilian Art Boom
Brazil is now the seventh largest economy in the world and has long since been hailed as the central driving force of the continent of South America fiscally. While in recent times it has been feared that Brazil’s economy is set to flail in the way most other countries have in this current economic climate, its contemporary art scene seems only to be going from strength to strength.
In Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, the contemporary art market is vibrant and buzzing. Galleries such as Fortes Vilica and Gentil Caricoa are representing some of the top names in Brazilian contemporary art, offering something to suit lovers of all genres of contemporary art ranging from paintings to video, sound installations to sculpture.
In fact, in the past month, Brazilian contemporary art has not been out of the news. In New York in the last week of May, Sotheby’s showcased a sale of contemporary Brazilian art. Artists who are at the forefront of contemporary art in Brazil such as Adriana Varejao and Carlito Carvalhaso were some of the top names with works for sale. In the same month, Christie’s New York Latin American art sale saw a painting by the Brazilian artist Candido Portinari sell for over $1.4 million, and amounted total gross sales of over $21 million at the event.
There is no doubt that Brazilian contemporary art is taking center stage and that prices are rocketing. A Portuguese purchaser who bought a work by Adriana Varejao from her London Gallery, Victoria Miro, a number of years ago for under £50,000 resold it at auction recently for over £1million.
Brazilian contemporary artists such as Varejao are now certainly in the same arena as other top international names, Varejao now being represented in New York by the same person as Jeff Koons. Varejao’s thirty nine painting panel installation, Carnivoras (2012) will also feature at Art Basel Unlimited in Switzerland this week.
Brazilian contemporary art is booming and everyone wants a piece of it. Art investors from Brazil, like investors from other emerging markets such as China, tend to display country loyalty. This means that they will give preference to contemporary artists from their home country and they have big money to spend. Chinese investors have helped push up the market price of the work of contemporary Chinese artists and Brazilian investors are now doing the same. This in turn instils confidence in the Brazilian contemporary art market which pushes demand and prices up even further world wide.
The Brazilian government also gives generous tax relief to those who invest in culture and the arts which evidently helps the thriving art market.
This of course is supported by the depth of the works themselves, with Brazilian artists often drawing from their country’s complex colonial past. Adriana Varejao’s work focuses on ideas of using the past to understand the present. Carnivoras (2012) takes its inspiration from a scientific Botany encyclopedia documenting exotic regional flora, and uses historical reference such as Portugese baroque art. The suggestive renderings of the Carnivorous plants entice the viewer with a natural eroticism.
Another rising star of the Brazilian contemporary art scene is Maria Nepomuceno, who takes her inspiration for her contemporary creations from Brazilian traditional crafts. Earlier this year she had a successful exhibition at the Turner Contemporary Center in England, while later on in the year she will exhibit at the 2013 Hangzhou Triennial of Fiber Art in China. In July her biggest exhibition to date will open at the Museum of Modern Art in Rio de Janeiro.
by Anne Ivers