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"Through scale, form, smell and touch, Ernesto Neto’s work invites us to experience a heightened awareness of our own sensing and feeling bodies. His sculptural forms and installations are over-whelmingly sensual and yet they have a formal harmony and simplicity that derives from their conceptual clarity."

  • "...where the constructed and the organic remain in permanent tension."

Ernesto Neto:

  • lives in Rio de Janeiro
  • His work presents many Brazilian influences including the vast contradictions and traditions found in Brazil (contradictions between man-made and organic)
  • Strong ‘concrete’ art movement in Brazil recently resulting in "aggressively modernist architecture and design, as well as sculptural form and painting."
  • "In contrast, there is an older tradition that derives from the meeting of vivid Portuguese Catholic iconography, African rituals, objects and shrines, and surviving indigenous cultures found in the jungles and mountains."
  • Neto shows this sense of modernist aesthetic while keeping a "passionate attachment to materiality and sensuality in [his] work that is expressed in a performative, even ritualistic, approach to materials and spaces."
  • Large play on senses and the body (both "integral to Neto's work")

"His installations stretch the membrane that separates art and life. Neto’s use of transparent elastic fabric describes the tension of spaces he invades while anthropomorphising architecture. Vast masses of fragrant spice swell the fabric in voluptuous, almost bodily, forms that fill the gallery space and our olfactory organs with its aromatic intensity. Unlike vision, smell entails the physical invasion of the body by the scent’s particles. In this way the sensations evoked by Neto’s spice works are involuntary and almost instinctive.

‘Just like drops in time, nothing’ has multiple associations, including rain capturing a ray of light or glancing through a forest, but it always refers back to the presence of the body, indicated by the bulging forms and even by the close association of lycra with underwear or stockings. At the same time there is a sublime architectural allusion created by the curving translucent arches that articulate the whole room."

© Art Gallery of New South Wales Contemporary Collection Handbook, 2006


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