The Blanton Museum of Art at The University of Texas at Austin and the Fundação Iberê Camargo in Porto Alegre, Brazil have joined together to organize the first comprehensive career survey of one of Brazil’s most important contemporary artists: Waltercio Caldas. The Nearest Air: A Survey of Works by Waltercio Caldas will explore the artist’s full body of work, from the 1960s through the present, and will investigate Caldas’s centrality within Brazilian art, his role on the international stage, and his unique position on art and its ethos. Following its recent presentation at two Brazilian venues—the Fundação Iberê Camargo in Porto Alegre and the Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo—the expanded exhibition will have its North American premiere at the Blanton in Fall 2013.
Working in a variety of mediums, Caldas examines the physical qualities of objects and spaces, challenging the assumptions viewers bring to the act of looking. He defines his practice as the act of sculpting the distance between objects, inverting the conventional definition of sculpture as a dense, self-contained volume. Above all, simplicity and formal precision define his art, qualities that speak to his aim to produce what he describes as "maximally present work through minimal action." His installation The Nearest Air (1991), in which suspended lengths of red and blue yarn radically transform empty space, epitomizes these concerns and exemplifies Caldas’s predilection for poetic and ambiguous titles. Another hallmark of his practice is the production of artist’s books, a body of work that illustrates Caldas’s playful use of the written word and his interest in art history, philosophy, and systems of knowledge. Caldas elaborates on the work of numerous modernist predecessors and draws knowingly from a wide range of Brazilian and international references. The exhibition will bring to light an artist whose work broadens the scope of traditional art historical discourse, while actively challenging viewers to question their perceptions of space and notions of reality.
The exhibition catalog, Waltercio Caldas, will be the first illustrated English-language publication to fully explore Caldas’s four-decade artistic trajectory, his influences, and his impact. The book, to be co-published by the Blanton Museum of Art and The University of Texas Press, features insightful essays by distinguished art critics Richard Shiff and Robert Storr, as well as by exhibition guest curator, Gabriel Pérez-Barreiro. The Nearest Air: A Survey of Works by Waltercio Caldas is co-organized by the Blanton Museum of Art and the Fundação Iberê Camargo and is guest-curated by Gabriel Pérez-Barreiro.
Generous funding for the exhibition is provided by the Susan Vaughan Foundation, with additional support from Patricia Phelps de Cisneros, the Bruce T. Halle Family Foundation, and Fran Magee. The accompanying publication is made possible in part by Michael Chesser.