"Point Zero", Rodrigo Braga, 2019. Photo: Disclosure

Eamidst the historic center of Porto Alegre, the Art Museum of Rio Grande do Sul (MARGS) presents a contemporary look at the state of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil and art. Curated by Paulo Herkenhoff, the new exhibition on display at the institution presents the Sartori Collection to the public for the first time (at least formally). Headquartered in Antônio Prado, a city in the Serra Gaúcha listed by the IPHAN (Institute of National Historic and Artistic Heritage), the private collection of Paulo Sartori and Nádia Ravanello Pasa is today considered one of the most relevant in the region.

Until May 2022, about 250 works occupy the rooms on the first floor of MARGS (Pinacotecas, Salas Negras, Sala Aldo Locatelli and Foyer), bringing together more than 100 artists from different generations and styles. Among the names exposed are Adriana Varejao, Arjan Martins, Berna Reale, Cildo Meireles, Claudia Andujar, Élle de Bernardini, Glauco Rodrigues, Hudinilson Jr., Jaime Lauriano, Leda Catunda, Lenora de Barros, Túlio Pinto and Tunga.

“Bringing this to the public, providing it to the city, is also a role of the museum, especially a public museum”, shares Francisco Dalcol, director-curator of MARGS. And he adds: “A collection like these comes to supply what we don't have in our collections, complements us, fills these gaps – in particular the more contemporary ones”. 

The exposure Sartori Collection: contemporary art inhabits Antônio Prado covers a historical arc from 1903 to 2021, devoting special focus to the last decades (1980 onwards). However, the organization of the rooms does not follow a chronological logic. The division is also not based on artistic languages ​​or supports, despite the variety found in the museum's environments when walking between sculptures, paintings, objects, photographs, videos and books. In an interview with arte!brasileiros, Herkenhoff says that he chose to display this part of the collection based on what he calls “significant cores” – an articulation of the works in symbolic terms, creating meanings and links, thought from the most diverse points of view. Thus, “the exhibition proposes transversal readings of the collection with gaucho pop, Afro-Brazilians, indigenous people, art and art history, cartography and social formation in Brazil”, explains the curator in the catalog text.

cross readings

In the museum's main room, a green wall stands out. Written on a large scale, it reads: “Indigenous Area”. The work of Xadalu Tupã Jekupé introduces us to a first nucleus and reminds us that this space – which today is the largest public museum in the state – was (and still is) indigenous territory. The painting continues a work by the Guarani artist, in which this same phrase is spread across Brazilian cities. “In Rio Grande do Sul it always caused a lot of commotion. Some people were very worried, because that was 'dirtying' the city with the indigenous presence. So, it's a way of affirming that the museum is also part of this territory, [and remembering that] MARGS was built on an indigenous area”, says the curator. 

The work is accompanied by a group composed of other works by Xadalu: a painting by Maspã, midwife of the Huni Kuin people in Acre; a joint creation by Dua Busen, shaman from the Coração da Floresta village, with young people from her community; the book Nhemmombaraete Reko Rã'i, by José Verá, storyteller from Yvity Porã Village; and a series of wooden sculptures of animals valued by the Guarani – an indigenous ethnic group very present in the state.  

The works are close to two other central cores in the exhibition: Afro Brazil e Afro-Brazilian sacred art and the cartography of violence. In them, we come across the exaltation of silenced cultures and figures - as in the work of Elian Almeida -, with portraits of religions of African origin - as in the works of Ayrson Heráclito and Moisés Patrício - and with denunciations of Brazilian structural racism - as in Whose body can be tortured?, by Leandro Machado, and We do not respect racist symbols, by Jaime Lauriano. 

Herkenhoff says that he chose to highlight this part of the collection “because they are very important social and ethnic groups in the social formation of Brazil and whose art has exploded in recent decades”. However, indigenous and Afro-Brazilian presences do not remain segregated and limited to a specific space in the museum. When visiting the show, we noticed the Brazilian (and gaucho) diversity permeating the other sessions – whether those linked to the country's history or conceptual art. Thus, the works are connected from other divisions – not just ethnic or racial ones.  

The art from Rio Grande do Sul from the 20th and 21st centuries is also highlighted in the exhibition due to the large number of works. “I always insisted with Sartori that a good collection of art from Rio Grande do Sul is very important”, highlights Herkenhoff, who started to help the couple of collectors before the exhibition at MARGS was even an idea and deepened the relationship in the last two years. years, in the process of research, selection and new acquisitions that led to the exhibition presented today at the museum.

In the exhibition,the presence in Rio Grande do Sul takes different forms. In some moments, the artists appear in an isolated way – as in the wing of the gaucho pop art and in the room dedicated to André Severo -, in other areas of the museum there is no explicit division and we are placed in contact with the confluences between history and art of the country and state – thinking both beyond whiteness and hegemonic culture. “The collection is not designed to smother anyone. It is designed for the community of Antônio Prado, for Rio Grande do Sul. She thinks about how to articulate the art of Rio Grande do Sul with Brazilian art”, points out Paulo Herkenhoff.

Between public and private

Started in 2013, the Sartori Collection has the exhibition at MARGS as a milestone in its first formal opening to the public. The stance is in line with other projects by the collector, who has already opened his selection of works for school visits in Antônio Prado and maintains a partnership with the University of Caxias do Sul, in which it sponsors the coming of artists to the educational institution. Rosangela Rennó, Berna Reale, Paulo Pasta, Daniel Senise, Leda Catunda and Vik Muniz are some of the names that have already been taken (in person or virtually) to the university through the project.

Sartori says that there is still no forecast for the exhibition to circulate in other cities or states, but he says that he has already received invitations from Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo and that he has been thinking about the possibility of taking the collection – perhaps in smaller cuts – to other institutions. 

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