The new building of the Pinacoteca do Estado, the newest cultural space in the city of São Paulo, echoes the most auspicious moment for culture in the country. By opening onto Parque da Luz and adding new exhibition halls, a library, educational ateliers, a documentation center and leisure infrastructure, the site opened at the beginning of March aims to increase the institution's possibilities for action, which is already centenary - which now gains a nucleus dedicated to the contemporary. And it physically and symbolically reaffirms the importance of an action aimed at the public space, incorporating new forms of thought and artistic action and facing the challenge of opening up beyond the restricted world of art connoisseurs.
Designed by Arquitetos Associados, the construction is very sober and integrated with the surrounding space. The lack of turnstiles, the centrality of the entire building around a public square accessible to all visitors to the park and a very diverse range of exhibitions are some of the fundamental pillars of this project, which aims to receive up to one million visitors per year.
It is based on an old school, transferred to more modern facilities in the region. In constructive terms, the most ambitious part is the huge underground exhibition hall, excavated under a central square. A strategy that guarantees the museum greater versatility, without having to circumvent the limitations of its other two units, the headquarters of Luz and the space of the Pinacoteca Station, whose older plans are more fragmented and with several internal subdivisions. With an area of one thousand square meters, this large gallery allowed the simultaneous exhibition of an important set of works that entered the collection in recent decades and that – due to their size or complexity – ended up being little shown. As a great meeting, the inaugural exhibition, entitled Chão da Praça, mixes a very diverse set of poetics, techniques and experiments, reaffirming the disparate and experimental character of contemporary production.
For example, the installation Ttéia, a major work by Lygia Pape, is being exhibited for the first time. The version that the Pinacoteca has is different from the better known one, on display in Inhotim, and was added to the collection along with the lending of the Roger Wright Collection. Another important work in the collection, which already has around 11 historical and contemporary works, is Parede da Memória, by Rosana Paulino, a work made up of 1500 patuás, made one by one by the artist, and which make up a powerful panel on the strength, tradition and poetry of blackness in the country. Signaling the interest in promoting an ever-increasing seam between exterior and interior, the show also brought into the museum space one of the sculptures that the Pinacoteca keeps in Parque da Luz, the large necklace of gigantic ceramic beads, made especially by Lygia Reinach for this outdoor sculpture project.
Among the many layers worked on by the show, curated by Ana Maria Maia and Yuri Quevedo, the dimension of affection and relationships between artists and the museum stands out. More explicitly, we have the neighborhood of the institution serving as a theme for works represented there, as in the photographic series by Cristiano Mascaro, in the watercolor by Djanira made in Parque da Luz, or even in the images that Hudinilson made of his own body when he was a laboratory technician and operator from the institution's xerox machine. But there are also more intangible neighborhoods and affections, with touches of memory and connections from the affective field, such as the majestic panel by Emanoel Araújo, who died last year, who was responsible for the modernization and renovation of the institution in the 1990s, and the first to dream of expanding beyond the limits of its headquarters, incorporating other spaces in the surroundings. An ambition that followed along with several of the subsequent directors, such as Ivo Mesquita and Tadeu Chiarelli, until it became viable with the deactivation and transfer of the school to the museum.
In addition to the large and versatile underground room, which after Chão da Praça will host an exhibition by the Chinese multimedia artist Cao Fei, a second exhibition space was installed in the former rooms of the Prudente de Morais School. Smaller, more intimate environment, and maintaining references to the architecture of the past (with the preservation of delicate wrought iron partitions, which date from the time of the first project, conceived in the 19th century by Ramos de Azevedo), it now houses a series of works by South Korean Haegue Yang. The artist, who has already been to the 27th Bienal de São Paulo, presents work that, in the opinion of Pinacoteca director Jochen Volz, also echoes in national production, such as the use of industrially produced materials or the displacement of meanings. “It's important to change our references a little”, he says.
The inauguration of the new building will allow, in addition to giving greater emphasis to public demonstrations and highlighting the museum's own collection, to reaffirm one of the focuses of attention of Volz's management: the need to carefully rethink its programming. “We have to think about which art story we want to tell and which one we haven't told recently”, he explains, remembering that until ten years ago the exhibitions that reached us were, almost exclusively, by white European men. Thinking about international art and national production in harmony and making room for poetics that still do not find an equal space in museums is among the guidelines that will guide the actions of the institution, which is already preparing an intense and diverse agenda for its three spaces, with names that ranging from Chico da Silva and Denilson Baniwa (already on display at Pina Luz) to Sônia Gomes and Marta Minujín, scheduled for 2024. ✱