Performance by Paulo Nazareth, during the opening of his solo show
Performance by Paulo Nazareth, during the opening of his solo show "Esconjuro", at Instituto Inhotim. Photo: Daniela Paoliello

Em poster at Inhotim, the individual Conjuration, by Paulo Nazareth, could not be more in line with the institute's programming proposal for 2024. With new works and reinterpretations of previous works, the exhibition occupies Galeria Praça and spreads across other spaces at Inhotim, responding to the institution's desire to work on the concepts of art and nature in an expanded way. Or even, as Júlia Rebouças, artistic director of the institute, asked in interview à arte!brasileiros: “What can we do here that cannot be done in another context?”

With the argument that Inhotim finds itself at a “crossroads of many times”, in a territory that was once crossed by the Central do Brasil Railway, Nazareth explains that “the exhibition deals with the past and a possibility of a future that we have not yet reached ”. The individual, remembers the artist, is part of a work process that began with Africa notebooks, a project conceived in 2012, composed of black and white images, recorded during trips he took in Africa and also in Brazil, involving issues such as traffic and food.

The starting point of Conjuration it was the work Exu's House (2015-2024), installed near Galeria Praça. In it, Nazareth embodies his proposal for a new relationship between time and space through the smell of brandy that reaches people's sense of smell before the other senses. On one of the institute's borders, the artist started a banana plantation, fruits always present throughout the seasons. With the planting work bananal (2024), which includes a bronze banana tree anchored in the ground, Nazareth again plays with notions of time and territory: even before Inhotim, the fruit was already present there, feeding workers and their families.

With Sambaki II (2024), a work commissioned by the institute, the bananas return as simulacra made of concrete, piled up and flanked by two speakers that reproduce a conversation in the Creole language. The audio features a dialogue, captured in São Paulo, with immigrant workers from Guinea-Bissau, who helped Nazareth in making concrete bananas. Already in Sambaki I, the artist mixes wooden bananas and simulacra of dynamite sticks. Again in a historical sense, it refers to the first wealth extracted from Brazilian territory and the practice of mining with explosives.

Also part of the individual series of paintings are external works, such as Duck [Pago or Ugly Duck], from 2024; parts and installations Gameleira (2024); bowl (2024); Time frame e Iemanjá (2023-2033); in addition to a set of images of his mother, Ana Gonçalves da Silva.

According to Paulo Nazareth, the title Conjuration it is also one of the works, an “immaterial work” activated, as in a performance, when spoken by anyone. In the same way as his surname, which, when uttered, evokes the name of his mother's mother, Nazareth Cassiano de Jesus, an indigenous woman from the Borum ethnic group sent to the Manicômio de Barbacena, also in Minas Gerais, in the mid-1940s. Here , the artist focuses on how ancestry accompanies all of his production.

Nazareth's solo exhibition is curated by Beatriz Lemos, who highlights the resumption of Inhotim's original curatorial vision in 2024. She highlights that esconjuro is a very powerful word in our vocabulary, well known in the terreiros of religions of African origin and linked “to the day to day life of faith healers, woodsmen, people who talk to the sacredness of plants”. And Nazareth, she states, arrives in Inhotim with this word that refers to both protection and freedom from bad energy, bad things.

“The exhibition also offers another possibility of counting time, a time extended throughout the seasons. And this new counting of time is carried out through reforms like those we see on the outskirts of Latin American cities, in which at every moment a little effort is made here, and another slab is built there, in search of quality of life and comfort” , explains the curator. “With these two ideas, the stations and the renovations, Paulo brings two institutional challenges, he affects the entire institute, in an exhibition that depends on and talks to all the museum’s teams.”


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