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Oiticica in London

Helio Oiticia (1937-80) was one of the most ground-breaking and influential artists of the late twentieth century, instrumental in re-mapping our understanding of what art can be. In his hands, elements from international modernist art movements are combined with specifically Brazilian flavours to create a new vocabulary, in which colour is given three-dimensional form and the viewer becomes part of the art-work itself. At the end of the 1960s Oiticica was invited to exhibit at the Whitechapel Art Gallery in London. The exhibition, which he preferred to call The Whitechapel Experiment, was one of the most radical, avant-garde visual arts events of the era, the shock-waves of which continue to reverberate. Oiticica was present at the gallery for much of its duration, writing letters and meeting friends and fellow artists. Members of the public were invited to "nest" in special environments, or wander bare-foot through sandy groves populated with live parrots. The freedom Oiticica had to work on a large scale at the Whitechapel and the connections he made while he lived in London were important for the rest of his career. This crucial period has never been thoroughly investigated before. With interviews of Oiticica's contemporaries that provide new insights, writings by the artist translated for the first time, essays by leading critics and facsimile pages from the original Whitechapel catalogue, the book captures not only a pivotal moment in the life and career of a unique artist but also in the development of the avant-garde in London.
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About the Author

Guy Brett is a London-based writer curator and critic Luciano Figueiredo is a artist, curator and Professor of Art History based in Brazil.

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