press release

Miami Art Museum (MAM) is pleased to present an exhibition by Brazilian artist Cildo Meireles from July 18, 2003 - October 26, 2003. For MAM's New Work series, Meireles is installing Strictu, a room-size environment being shown for the first time in the United States. Curated by MAM Associate Curator, Cheryl Hartup, Meirele's project explores relationships of power, control and other aspects of authoritarianism, an ongoing theme in the artist's work. The installation occupies the entire gallery, creating a walk-through space formed by chains on the floor, ending at a brightly lit table with two chairs.

"Cildo Meireles is one of the most original artists at work today. Even though he is internationally known, his installations are rarely seen in the United States. We are delighted to present his work to a wider audience in Miami," said MAM Director, Suzanne Delehanty.

Born in Rio de Janeiro in 1948, Cildo Meireles is one of Brazil's most significant living artists. Meireles embarked on his career in the 1960's and became part of an avant-garde that set a new agenda for Brazilian art. Meireles is known for dramatic, multi-sensory environments that intimately involve the viewer. The idea for Strictu, came to Meireles while visiting New York City in 1999. In his hotel room, Meireles turned on the television and saw a program about racial conflicts in the United States during the 1960s. He watched as a Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan said, "We want to steal their time. We want to steal their space. We want to steal their minds." This statement of intent left a deep impression on the artist and became the impetus for Strictu. The words of the Grand Wizard are displayed on the wooden table in the exhibition at MAM.

During the 1960s and 70s Meireles responded to Brazil's repressive military regime and to the brutal authoritarianism of the time by challenging established ideas about art. Like the work of his predecessors, two of Brazil's most famous artists -- Hélio Oiticica and Lygia Clark -- Meireles often makes his work participatory, addressing socio-political and cultural concerns. The suggestion of danger and denial of freedom are recurring motifs in Meireles' projects.

In one of Meireles' installation, shown in the late 80s, visitors had to cross a floor covered with broken glass in order to navigate a labyrinth of barriers. In 1994, he created an installation consisting of a dark, L-shaped room with a foot of talcum powder on the floor and a single lit candle around its turn, the smell of gas permeating the space. Meireles uses surprise and contradiction to perplex the viewer by playing with expectations and common understandings.

For nearly 40 years, Meireles has created drawings, paintings, objects, performances and installations that explore the real, the symbolic, and the imaginary. He is known for working with mundane materials like money, bones, chalk, charcoal, clocks and rulers. With these humble materials, he creates seductive environments that convey powerful socio-political statements and ideas about perception, time, and space.

Meireles' work has been seen at Miami Art Museum in three previous group exhibitions: Dream Collection Gifts and just a few Hidden Desires in 1997, Global Conceptualism: Points of Origin, 1950s-1980s in 2000 and Re/Aligning Vision: Alternative Currents in South American Drawing in 1998. Cildo Meireles has participated in biennials in São Paulo, Brazil, Johannesburg, South Africa, Sidney, Australia, Venice, Italy, and Kwangju, South Korea, in addition to the international art exhibition Documenta IX (1992) and XI (2002) in Kassel, Germany. Pressetext

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New Work: Cildo Meireles