press release

05.12.2013 - 02.03.2014

Hercules Barsotti, Lygia Clark, Abraham Palatnik, Gego, Gyula Kosice, Heinz Mack, Otto Piene, Günter Uecker, Yves Klein, Jean Tinguely, Piero Manzoni, Enrico Castellani, Armando, Jan Henderikse, Henk Peeters, Jan Schoonhoven, Lucio Fontana, Almir Mavignier, Jesus Rafael Soto

Heike van den Valentyn

With 24 works from Europe and South America, the ZERO exhibition, for the first time in Brazil, gives a thematic overview of the international avant-garde that decisively influenced post-war art with serial compositions and vibrant light structures.

Particularly in Germany, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Belgium, artists have distanced themselves from the late 1950s from the expressive gesture of informal painting and claim a form of art that lives up to modern reality. Light becomes the characteristic material, color is dynamized through halftone dots and serial structure.

In 1958, Heinz Mack and Otto Piene found the ZERO Group, to which Günther Uecker would join three years later. “ZERO is a zone that cannot be measured, in which a past state becomes a new and unknown state.” (Otto Piene)

Dynamo - synonymous with movement and change - becomes the highest expression of the ZERO period, manifested primarily in rotating objects that expand in space over the years. Dynamic multiperspective becomes the central artistic resource, and the viewer is now “part of a moving force field” (Udo Kultermann).

The pleasure of experimenting and the discovery of new techniques reflect the diversity of materials in ZERO. Materials such as nails, aluminum plates, glass, mirrors and light bodies are used with which serial compositions are created that take the place of traditional composition. The elements fire, water and air also soon become central themes of the ZERO period - the cosmic principle in its infinite amplitude and its permanent change, the main engine.

ZERO also represents an international network in which ideas and concepts are animatedly discussed. From an early age, ZERO operates in dialogue and crosses the closed circle of the national art scene. It is with Yves Klein and Jean Tinguely in Paris, as well as Piero Manzoni and Enrico Castellani in Milan that the ZERO Group has in particular an intensive exchange. Similarly, there are close contacts with the Dutch group NUL, formed by Armando, Jan Henderikse, Henk Peeters and Jan Schoonhoven. South American artists such as Lucio Fontana (Argentina / Italy) and Almir Mavignier (Brazil / Germany) and Venezuelan Jesús Rafael Soto (Venezuela / France) were part of the select ZERO circuit.

The artistic dialogue in this exhibition has been expanded with works by South American artists such as Hercules Barsotti, Lygia Clark and Abraham Palatnik (all in Brazil), Gego (Venezuela), as well as Gyula Kosice (Argentina) - close to ZERO from the point of view. formal. Some of the artists mentioned - such as Clark, Kosice or Palatnik - participated in kinetic exhibitions in conjunction with artists from the ZERO Group. Others - such as Barsotti and Gego - had no direct contact, but formally approached ZERO.

Chronologically, the exhibition focuses, with few exceptions, on the early phase of the German ZERO Group (Mack, Piene, Uecker), from its founding in the late 1950s to its dissolution in the mid-1960s.

Heike van den Valentyn