São PauloSérgio Sister: Images of a Pop Youth - Political Paintings and Prison Drawings
Galeria Nara Roesler | São Paulo presents Sérgio Sister: Images of a Pop Youth – Political Paintings and Prison Drawings, his fourth solo show at the gallery.
With a presentation text by Camila Bechelany, the exhibition brings together for the first time a large number of works produced between 1967 and 1971, mostly unknown to the public, including drawings made during the 19 months the artist spent incarcerated at Tiradentes Prison in São Paulo, during the Brazilian military regime (1964–1985).
The exhibition features 35 drawings, most of them using watercolor, pastel and pen on paper in varying dimensions and formats. Highly colorful, with caricature-like and psychedelic gestures, the drawings are a sort of documentation of the artist’s day-to-day life in prison. According to Sister, ‘they were a kind of chronicle recording what was going on amongst us. I wanted to use graphic symbols and colors to comment on the electric shocks, chains, beatings […]’. Today, the artist understands that the production of these works was a way of recovering his own identity and finding a spiritual place to help him through such a dark period.
With no expectation of release and having been forcibly displaced from his university studies in social science and his work as a journalist, the artist started to draw daily after his wife Bela, then girlfriend, brought him a drawing pad and a box of crayons. Gradually, Sister began to meet other artists and architects who were also in custody, such as Alípio Freire, Carlos Takaoka, José Wilson, Sérgio Ferro, Rodrigo Lefèvre, Julio Barone, Carlos Henrique Heck and Sérgio Souza Lima. This group became a sort of studio collective, which served as a platform for a prolific exchange of ideas and materials. It was at this point that Sister came into contact with many theoretical concepts, introduced to him by his new colleagues, and started to use his drawings to establish a stronger link with the art world.
This exhibition presents a wide selection of these drawings, brought together for the first time. Some of them have featured in the shows Pequenas insurreições [Small Insurrections] at Centro Cultural São Paulo – CCSP (1985); Caros amigos [Dear Friends] at Memorial da América Latina, São Paulo (2008); and more recently AI-5 50 ANOS – Ainda não terminou de acabar [AI5 50 Years – Still Hasn’t Ended Yet], at Instituto Tomie Ohtake, also in São Paulo (2018).
Fifteen paintings on canvas included in the exhibition, produced before Sister’s time in prison (1966–1967), show the strong influence of pop art on his work. Yet, contrary to the American movement, whose departure point was the trivialization of images via the appropriation of everyday objects, the assimilation of the pop movement in Brazil reflected the tensions triggered by the imposition of its military regime. Like many other artists of his generation, Sister intuitively utilized pop art’s irony and aggressiveness as an outlet for social and political issues.
Sérgio Sister (b. 1948) was born in São Paulo, Brazil, where he currently lives and works. In the 1960s he attended painting courses at Fundação Armando Álvares Penteado (FAAP) in São Paulo, and in 1974 he graduated with a degree in social science from the University of São Paulo, where he began his Master’s research in the Department of Social Sciences. As a member of Generation 80, his creative process encompasses many distinct techniques of layering and varying tonal and chromatic intensity. As developments from his painting, Sister also creates three-dimensional works, such as his series Caixas [Boxes], begun in 1996, as well as Pontaletes [Props], ongoing since 2006 and Ripas [Slats], 2009.
Sister has participated in the 9th and 25th editions of the São Paulo Biennial (1967 and 2002). Recent group exhibitions include: A linha como direção [The Line as Direction], Pina Estação, São Paulo (2019); The Pencil is a Key: Art by Incarcerated Artists, The Drawing Center, New York (2019); Géométries Américaines, du Mexique à la Terre de Feu, Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Paris (2018); AI-5 50 anos – Ainda não terminou de acabar [AI5 50 Years – Still Hasn’t Ended Yet], Instituto Tomie Ohtake, São Paulo (2018); MAC USP no século XXI – A Era dos Artistas [MAC USP in the 21st Century – The Era of Artists], Museu de Arte Contemporânea da Universidade de São Paulo (MAC USP) (2017); and Sala de encontro – Dentro [Room of Encounters – Inside], Museu de Arte do Rio (MAR), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (2017).
Solo exhibitions include: Sérgio Sister, Kupfer Gallery, London (2017); Pintura com ar, sombra e espaço [Painting with Air, Shade and Space], Galeria Nara Roesler, Rio de Janeiro (2017); Sergio Sister: Malen Mit Raum, Schatten und Luft, Galerie Lange + Pult, Zurich, Switzerland (2016); Expanded Fields, Nymphe Projekte, Berlin (2016); Ordem Desunida [Disunited Order], Galeria Nara Roesler, São Paulo (2015); Sérgio Sister, Pinacoteca do Estado, São Paulo (2013); and Sergio Sister, Galerie Emmanuel Hervé, Paris (2013).
His works feature in several collections, such as Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo; Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro; Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo; Centro Cultural São Paulo; and Instituto Figueiredo Ferraz.all images © the gallery and the artist(s)