Melissa Oliveira, untitled, 2022. Photo: Disclosure/Galeria Nonada
Melissa Oliveira, untitled, 2022. Photo: Disclosure/Galeria Nonada

In November of last year, Rio de Janeiro gained two spaces – in Copacabana, in the south of the city, and in Penha, in the north – dedicated to artists who are outside the gallery circuit. The opening exhibition, which runs until March 4, brings together 32 artists, who work with different media and materials, and focus on themes such as racism, politics and gender. Belonging to the same gallery, named Nonada – a neologism used by Guimarães Rosa in his classic Great Sertão: Veredas –, its two addresses, its dimensions and those of the works were, in part, determinants of the division of artists and their creations in each space.

In Copa, the Nonada ZS houses, in its 70 square meters, works under the theme The word: prose, that has more sociopolitical tones. In Penha, the selection of Nonada ZN is called the word: verse and has a more lyrical character. Although there are names from outside the Rio-São Paulo axis, a decentralization intended by the gallery, most of the selected artists work in both capitals. Two exceptions are Guto Oca, from João Pessoa, in Paraíba, and Guilherme Almeida, from Salvador, Bahia. Of the entire group, only two are already represented by Nonada: Melissa Oliveira and Miguel Afa from Rio de Janeiro.

The gallery project began to be conceived last year by Paulo Azeco, a well-known name on the art scene in São Paulo. At the beginning of the pandemic, and even motivated by it, Azeco, who was then at Fortes D'Aloia & Gabriel, moved to Rio, starting to work at Carpintaria, the Rio de Janeiro branch of the gallery.

In April of last year, while working as an art advisor, Azeco sold four works by Anna Bella Geiger, in a solo show by the artist at Danielian Gallery. It was there that he approached the partners of the space, the brothers Luiz and Ludwig Danielian, to whom he took the Nonada project, in which João Paulo Balsini, an art collector and lawyer working in public policies, also participated. The Danielians agreed to participate and even brought the Penha space, a deactivated lingerie factory, which belonged to the gallerists' family, to the undertaking.


Before closing the partnership, however, Azeco received an “invitation he couldn't refuse” from Galeria Millan, which took him back to São Paulo. The season, however, was short, a few months. Negotiations with the Danielians continued, albeit at a distance, until the hammer came down. Together, the four partners made the selection of names and works from these opening shows, with indications from other artists, curators and even from searches carried out on social media. According to Azeco, the focus of the gallery will always be to work with issues that are urgent.

“Contemporary art that does not discuss any of these themes loses some of its importance. I think it's important that we have these guidelines. I'm a gay man, so from my place of speech I want to discuss queer art issues. In this inaugural exhibition, we have four transsexual artists, for example. And, of course, we also have black artists, but the intention is not to surf this market wave”, says Azeco.

For Luiz Danielian, Nonada is a project that understands art as a political and social instrument, and the two venue choices talk a little about that. “Copacabana we understand as the great mixture of Rio de Janeiro. And Penha was something even more natural. In addition to going close to where many artists are, a place where there are almost no cultural initiatives, the gallery is on the ground floor of my family's old factory”, recalls the gallerist. “So, in a way, it is also part of Nonada's thinking, this return of that building to the neighborhood, but now with cultural initiatives”.

Also according to Danielian, Nonada is the first of these initiatives to take shape, but they already have a long-term plan so that other actions can transform the old factory into a cultural facility for the community. “It's as if we were, in a small way, giving something back to the neighborhood in gratitude for so many years there”, he says.

The schedule for the rest of the year at the two Nonada addresses is almost closed. In mid-March, the Copa gallery will host a solo show by Melissa Oliveira, curated by Victor Gorgulho. At the same time, the Penha shed will feature works by Siwaju Lima, in dialogue with another artist, a name yet to be defined by curator Clarissa Diniz. In May, Nonada ZN will host a large collective on sexuality, probably curated by Efrain Almeida.

In August, both spaces will host a solo show by Miguel Afa. The following month, during ArtRio, gallery owners will open a new space inside the Penha shed, dedicated to special projects, occupations by galleries outside Rio or even Brazil, which will take place twice a year. For the end of the year, an individual André Barion is scheduled, in the Nonada de Copa.

the word: prose
Nonada ZN – Rua Conde de Agrolongo, 677 – Penha
Visitation: Thursday and Friday, from 12h to 17h; Saturday, from 11 am to 15 pm
the word: verse
Nonada ZS – Rua Aires Saldanha, 24 – Copacabana
Visitation: Tuesday to Friday, from 11 am to 19 pm; Saturday, from 11 am to 15 pm
Until March 4st
Free admission



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