1st major U.S. exhibition of Brazilian artist Erika Verzutti now on view at CCS Bard

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1st major U.S. exhibition of Brazilian artist Erika Verzutti now on view at CCS Bard
Erika Verzutti, A Guerra do Brasil, 2020. Acrylic and oil on recycled aluminum 24 x 40 x 2 in. (63 x 103 x 6 cm.). Photo Credit: Eduardo Ortega. Courtesy of the artist, Fortes D’Aloia & Gabriel, Andrew Kreps Gallery and Alison Jacques.

ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, NY.- Marking the artist’s first major institutional survey in the U.S., Erika Verzutti: New Moons spotlights the original and influential practice of one of the most celebrated artists working today. Presenting over 60 sculptures and wall works made over the past 15 years, as well as a new commission, New Moons illuminates the many lines of inquiry—including studies of being, the natural world, the cosmos—that converge and find new associations in Verzutti’s highly tactile creations. Curated by Lauren Cornell, Chief Curator at the Hessel Museum of Art and Director of the Graduate Program, the exhibition has been on view at CCS Bard’s Hessel Museum of Art since June 24, and will continue through October 15, 2023.

Following a series of acclaimed solo exhibitions at the Museu de Arte de São Paulo (2021), Nottingham Contemporary (2021), and the Centre Pompidou (2019), New Moons marks the first opportunity for U.S. audiences to experience the artist’s work comprehensively in an institutional presentation. The works on view reflect Verzutti’s signature practice of cross-pollinating organic structures with references to the art historical canon, myriad forms of sentient life (plant, animals, humans), the cosmos, and consumer objects. Materials such as stones, vegetables, and tropical plants are modeled and playfully recombined with allusions to Brazilian artists such as influential modernists Tarsila do Amaral (1886-1973) or Maria Martins (1894-1973) and iconic works like Jeff Koons’ Gazing Ball series, Constantin Brâncuşi’s Endless Column, and many others throughout art history. Verzutti’s works alchemize references into original and inventive new forms that often point to their own making by bearing the trace of the artist’s hand—sometimes even her fingertips. This physicality carries through in three-dimensional wall works that have been molded, painted, and sunken into, showcasing Verzutti’s technical skill and exploration of materials across a wide range of media.

“Continuing CCS Bard’s commitment to supporting the most experimental and inventive artistic practices, Erika Verzutti: New Moons speaks to the boundless potential of cultivating an intimate conversation with the history of art,” said Tom Eccles, Executive Director of the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College. “The presentation of Erika Verzutti’s work continues CCS Bard’s innovative approach to monographic exhibitions by artists working in the international sphere.”

Cornell notes, “Verzutti’s practice offers an anti-taxonomy for being, one that rejects autonomy and hierarchies in favor of reinvention and ongoing recombination. In her work—marked by multiplication and reproduction—moons recur, as symbols of rebirth and the multiple phases and cycles that one entity, or art object, can have.”

The exhibition opens with Crisis of Sculpture, newly commissioned for the exhibition, and a selection of Verzutti’s wall reliefs, intimately scaled works that straddle between two and three dimensionality and that build upon a range of art historical references and inspirations. Highlights include Homeopatia Mondrian (2020) and Van Gogh with Eggs (2015), both of which recall the signature styles of the two iconic painters with egg-like shapes and impressions inserted, as if to nod to the fertile ground that history can provide for the creation of new work.

In the main exhibition gallery stands what the curator refers to as a “parade” of sculptures representing a cross-section of Verzutti’s practice since 2005. The parade begins with Cemitério com Franja (Cemetery with Fringe) (2014)—part of an ongoing series of “cemeteries” composed of detritus from the

artist’s studio—which presents 632 pieces of refuse rearranged in a mysterious new configuration. It then processes through over 30 works of various scales and material combinations that intermingle animal, plant, art, and architectural references—each imbuing sentience into new forms that brim with life and liveness. Some objects are unique: for instance, Henry Branco (2010), a miniature bronze abstraction, twisting to examine a protuberance on its backside, like an unnamable creature coming to sense its own body for the first time. Others are part of open- ended series, like her Venuses, an ongoing reimagining of the Paleolithic Venus of Willendorf— here, turned upside down, in a headstand—and her works from her Tarsila series, seen in Swan with Hammer (2013) and Tarsila with New (2011). Surrounding the central display are wall sculptures that recall the weather and the atmosphere—seen in the three Churros (2022)—while others evoke the planetary—in the eggs and ovoid impressions and astral gatherings of Boyfriend (2014), Skin Moon (2019), and Marshmallow Amazonino (2019), altogether suggesting an encircling cosmic order all her own.

Also on view is a special presentation of sculptures from the series “Brasilia,” marking a rare opportunity to experience multiple works from this signature family of work—each a slight modification of the spiky tropical jackfruit. Among them are: Brasília TV (2011), a jackfruit with a square space cut into it, as if to fit a monitor, and Brasilia Acustica / Acoustic Brasilia (2011), a fruit with a narrow slit. They sit alongside Brasilia Joia / Jewel Brasilia (2011), Brasília Parede / Brasília Wall (2011), Brasília Skate (2011), and Brasília Quitanda (2010). Reflecting upon the dichotomies inherent in her home country, the series explores the violence and beauty of the capital city’s

Modernist urbanization through the metaphorically sharp rind and supple interior of a spiny jackfruit.

Steeped in citations of Brazilian art and architecture, the tropics, and theft and counter-theft in art history—not to mention present-day life, encompassing studio refuse, paintbrushes, process, and wonderment—Verzutti’s art looks askew at conventional classification and set hierarchies. In undoing them, she presents her own anti-taxonomy of being, form, and collectivity.

Erika Verzutti

Drawing upon a wide range of references, from pop culture and contemporary art to the natural world, Erika Verzutti creates highly tactile creations across media.

Verzutti’s work has been the focus of solo exhibitions at MASP – Museu de Arte de São Paulo (2021); Nottingham Contemporary, Nottingham (2021); Centre Pompidou, Paris (2019); Aspen Art Museum, Aspen (2019); Pivô, São Paulo (2016); SculptureCenter, New York (2015); Tang Museum, Saratoga Springs (2014); and Centro Cultural São Paulo (2012). Select exhibitions include the 57th Venice Biennale (2017); 32nd Bienal de São Paulo (2016); 34th Panorama of Brazilian Art, Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo (2015); 2013 Carnegie International, Pittsburgh (2013); 9th Bienal do Mercosul, Porto Alegre (2013); and the 11th Biennale de Lyon (2011). Her work is in the collections of Tate Modern, London; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; Guggenheim Museum, New York; Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo; and Pinacoteca do Estado, São Paulo, among others.

Verzutti was born in São Paulo in 1971, where she lives and works. She has a bachelor’s degree in industrial design from the Universidade Mackenzie (1991) and a master's degree in fine art at Goldsmiths College (London, UK, 2000). She is represented in the U.S. by Andrew Kreps Gallery, in Brazil by Fortes D’Aloia & Gabriel, in England by Alison Jacques, and in Japan by Misako and Rosen.

Hessel Museum of Art

CCS Bard’s Hessel Museum of Art advances experimentation and innovation in contemporary art through its dynamic exhibitions and programs. Located on the campus of Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, the Hessel organizes and presents group exhibitions and thematic surveys,

monographic presentations, traveling exhibitions, as well as student-curated shows that are free and open to the public. The museum’s program draws inspiration from its unparalleled collection of contemporary art, which features the Marieluise Hessel Collection at its core and comprises more than 3,000 objects collected contemporaneously from the 1960s through the present day.

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