This exhibition gathers new works by Sonia Gomes, a Minas Gerais native living in São Paulo. It features the most recent developments of her sculpture efforts, which now include tree branches and trunks. These never-before-seen works make reference to the primary series of this show, titled Root. Scraps of fabrics found by chance or offered to the artist, with varied colors, patterns and textures, are cut up, reconfigured and turned into sculptures. Textiles, ropes, pieces of wood, different objects like pins, purses and bracelets, among other daily items, were included in the works, and allow Gomes to clash diverse shapes and harken back to different artistic and artisanal practices – traditional or contemporary, from sculpting to sewing.
Still I rise references the namesake 1978 poem of writer and activist Maya Angelou (USA, 1928-2014), a recognized leader of the civil rights struggle. The poem evokes a sense of overcoming and conveys Gomes’ power to reinvent both herself and her work. The artist’s MASP showing happens amid a transition between two cycles of histories. In 2018, it is framed in the context of a year dedicated to Afro-Atlantic Histories, in which the museum’s program centers on the flows and reflows among Africa, Americas and Europe. In 2019, during MASP’s Women´s Histories, Feminist Histories, women and feminism become the focus of exhibitions, mediation activities and public programs.
The works were created especially for this showing at MASP and Glass House, resulting from a partnership between the museum and Bardi Institute. The paths of both institutions are connected. Architect Lina Bo Bardi (1914-1992), who designed MASP, and Pietro Maria Bardi (1900-1999) lived at Casa de Vidro [Glass House] from1951, when it was completed. Bo Bardi’s design for Casa de Vidro connected to MASP’s building since both share the unique suspension and transparency traits that provide an open relationship with their surroundings. Gomes then creates her sculptures in dialogue with those modernist buildings, affirming the installation aspect of her art.
Still I rise presents the extraordinary contribution of Gomes to the language of contemporary sculpture, starting from an articulate conception of art that, in practice, can bring forward and point out issues linked to tridimensionality, volume, balance and materiality of textiles and wood, as well as the repetition, duplication, overlapping and alternation of shapes. It also reveals formal strategies for building objects, whether through lines or by highlighting the anthropomorphic character of the works, be it in the interplay of tension and creation of negative spaces – which are all essential parameters in the artist’s works.
Sonia Gomes: Still I rise is curated by Amanda Carneiro, public programs supervisor at MASP.