Maria Nepomuceno:Nasci de uma flor

Maria Nepomuceno:
Nasci de uma flor

2024.5.31 - 7.6

Opening reception:
5.30 (fri.) 17:00 - 19:00
*artist in attendance
Talk Event:
5.30 (thur.) 18:00 – 19:30
More info | Online registration

©Maria Nepomuceno
Press Release

Venue: nca | nichido contemporary art
Date: 5.31 (fri.) – 7.6 (sat.) 2024
Gallery hours: Tue – Sat 11:00 – 19:00 (Closed on Sun., Mon., and on National Holydays)
Opening reception: 5.31 (fri.) 17:00 – 19:00
*Artist in attendance.

<Talk event>
Guests: Maria Nepomuceno x Shihoko Iida (Curator)
Moderator: Pedro Erber
Date: 5.30 (thur.) 18:00 – 19:30 (Door open: 17:30)
Venue: B1F Auditorium of the Embassy of Brazil
Supported by: Embassy of Brazil in Tokyo
To sign up: Maria Nepomuceno Talk Event / Google form

nca | nichido contemporary art is pleased to present Nasci de uma flor, Japan-first solo show by Brazilian artist Maria Nepomuceno.
Nepomuceno has developed a unique process through which she creates organic sculptures and installations that incorporate methods of rope weaving, beads, unique ceramic forms and found objects. Evoking the joyful atmosphere of Rio’s Carnival with its bright, rich colors, Nepomuceno’s work embodies a variety of elements - Brazil’s culture and traditions, landscapes, animals – that range from the microscopic to the macrocosmic. The fluid, organic forms freely expand over the surrounding space, sometimes inviting tactile exploration. Nepomuceno has worked on several research-field projects that have put her in contact with different local communities. An example is the artist’s collaboration with the indigenous Huni Kuin people who inhabit the state of Acre in the north of Brazil and whose weaving techniques contributed to the evolution of Nepomuceno’s own style and process.
The artist presents 11 new pieces made especially for this exhibition.


Maria Nepomuceno: The matrix of the joie de vivre

As soon as we set our eyes on Maria Nepomuceno’s work, we can clearly see in the room-filling organic shapes and vivid, rich colors of the ensemble of materials she puts together - beads, ceramics, resin and found objects woven with cords of several interlaced threads – the characteristic trait of her artistic practice. The sculptural piece Nasci de uma flor (I was born from a flower), featured in this exhibition, does, too, wrap around the whole space, visitors included, the brightly colored beads woven with threads, freely expanding from the floor to the wall, and up to the ceiling. Its shape evokes the ebb and flow of ocean waves, or maybe some sort of primordial being, in the way it suggests movement as if it were going through endless inversions both internally and externally, with its tip gently stretching out, recalling the antennas of a living creature. And if we think about it, the sea is indeed mother to us all. For 4.6 billion years, it has been nurturing Earth’s ecosystem, embracing both life and death as its inevitable ending. And the city of Rio de Janeiro, where Nepomuceno’s practice is rooted, is famous for its many, beautiful beaches. We can, then, think of her work as, so to speak, a matrix shaped by the joie de vivre. Nepomuceno’s work has a musical quality to it: from the symphonies created by the wriggling and breathing of the delicate materials telling us the traditional weaving techniques of the artisans from the state of Ceará, in the north of Brazil, to heteromorphic forms that transcend harmony, as a dynamically overflowing, impromptu jazz session. It is as if the variety of materials and colors breathe life into a musical fantasy, and that very materiality is given back to us by appealing to our tactile sensing. While Nepomuceno confirms that her work has never embodied ‘music’ in the conventional sense of the word, on the occasion of the artist’s solo show at the Museum of Modern Art, Rio de Janeiro, in 2013, she actually introduced audio elements such as the sound of a river flowing, the sound of the rope being woven by the Indigenous people she collaborated with, as well as their conversations and laughters.1
By collaborating with Indigenous communities, who appreciate with awareness and gratitude how we as human beings have been given this life thanks to the blessings of nature and the earth, as well as with artisans who have inherited the traditional techniques, artists have freed themselves from a practice that is classified and entrenched by the hegemony of Western-centric modernism. And this allows them to practice more freely, engaging with specific communities and regions. Such tendency clearly appears to be relevant to and valued by many artists as well, who, while contemporary to Nepomuceno, have been active in different countries and contexts: Yee I-Lann, for instance, based in Kota Kinabalu, creates mats in collaboration with women weavers from the stateless sea tribe and the Indigenous people of Malaysia; Tanya Lukin Linklater, based in North Bay, Canada, transforms knowledge and rituals embedded into everyday objects such as woven baskets and winter clothing, which have been passed down from generation to generation among Alaska’s Indigenous people, into bodily, performative practice. While initially Nepomuceno worked on her creations alone, her quest for new materials and artistic experiences led her to develop a collaborative practice. Her collaboration with the braiders from Ceará has been a longstanding one, dating back to 2009. It can be said that such a collaboration has become an essential feature for her in order to explore the artistic practice, the origin of the universal act of braiding and her own identity, as the artisans share the same roots with her grandfather.2 And the relation shaped through this collaboration has been reciprocal. While Nepomuceno draws new inspiration from the artisans’ traditional methods, in return, they also get to try out new braiding shapes because of the collaborative nature of such an experience.
The exhibition also features a wall-based sculpture series which is also extremely captivating. It is rather far from classical reliefs as static, half-tridimensional sculptures usually enshrined in historical buildings. A plexiglass-lid wooden box is contained inside the outer shell where vividly colored beads radiate energy. Different objects are placed inside in the background creating some sort of collage and geometrical motifs, giving the impression of a galaxy that gets lost in the eyes of the viewers. Furthermore, if we carefully look at the lower part of the work Nariz rosa (pink nose), we can see an object attached to it similar to a human nose; likewise, in Orelha espiral (spiral ear) we can spot something similar to a human ear. Organic shapes hinting to body organs have been a prominent feature in Nepomuceno’s practice so far, yet these are the first artworks where the artist refers to specific body parts. From the art historical perspective, these nose and ear seem to represent a rather bizarre, paroxysmal and precognitive character that makes it tempting to trace their lineage back to the Surrealists such as Yves Tanguy, with his abstract paintings featuring biomorphic forms, or Meret Oppenheim, who sculptured her resistance to preconceived expectations of femininity imposed by men. In their evoking of the act of breathing, indispensable to human life, we may also want to look at them as the expression of the anxiety that characterizes our times, or as an existential statement that can relate to Tomio Miki’s EAR, although it is said that the work does not hold a specific meaning.3 Nevertheless, both nose and ear here should be taken in as playful and mysterious. Nepomuceno’s work is such a treat to the eyes overflowing with joy and esthesis that it feels inappropriate trying to look at it sticking to these conventional interpretations. Likewise, her creation process is fluid and spontaneous which translates in her seldom relying on sketches or drawings.4
Nepomuceno’s practice is informed by artists such as Lygia Clark who inherited Neo Concretism in Brazil in the 1950s-60s5, which placed importance on the re-experiencing of a primitive state through the use of organic forms, and on the spatialization of the work, Louise Bourgeois, from the perspective of feminism, or yet Maria Martins, a modernist sculptor who is renowned for her prominent involvement with international Surrealism in the 1940s.
Here, as a speculative attempt, let’s expand on what discussed above about Surrealism in order to dig deeper into Nepomuceno’s practice. When asked if her practice had been informed by Surrealism, she positively replied putting it in quite an intriguing way: “When I include everyday objects, parts of human bodies or any other elements recognizable to the spectator in my sculptures, my intention is to create an atmosphere of absurdity, and with this expand the poetic universe of my works.”6 In other words, it could also be considered as an act of dislocating reality to bring the artwork to a deeper dimension. The use of: depaysement, through which different motifs are juxtaposed after being cut off from their original context, the creation of temporal and spatial distortion through twisted lines, sensual and organic metaphors, materials and motifs such as mirrors, doors or boxes symbolizing a surreal dimension that exists on the other side. These are all Surrealists’ typical methods. In the years between the two world wars, where the political propaganda pushed military agenda while justifying its intentions, Surrealist artists tried to use the subconscious as a tool to resist the conscious manipulation of humanity. While the appearance of Nepomuceno’s work seems to be the opposite of Surrealisms’ glumness, given the confused situation of the world we live in, we could perhaps sense an equally radical urge for an expressive language that is just as free at the core of her colorful and vibrant practice. And viewers, entrusting their body and soul to the hammock work Rede mar (Hammock sea), as an interactive matrix suspended across the gallery space, are subconsciously transformed into intermediary of Nepomuceno’s work expanding its radicalism, joy and vitality.

Shihoko Iida (Curator)

1. Nepomuceno, Maria. Online conversation with the author. 23 March 2024.
2. Nepomuceno, Maria. Online conversation with the author. 23 March 2024.
3. Tomio Miki EAR;; (Accessed: 2 April, 2024)
4. Nepomuceno, Maria. Online conversation with the author. 23 March 2024.
5. Suzuki, Toshiharu. Artists, Blooming: Florescendo: Brasil-Japão O seu lugar (exhibition cat.), Supervised by Toyota Municipal Museum of Art, Published by Masakazu Takei (FOIL Co., Ltd.), 2008, p.283.
6. Nepomuceno, Maria. Email correspondences with the author. 11 May 2024.

Maria Nepomuceno
B. 1976, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Currently lives in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
2003 - 2004 School of Visual Arts of Parque Lage, Art and Philosophy, Rio de Janeiro.
Nepomuceno’s solo show exhibitions have been held at major art venues and museums, both internationally and nationally, such as Instituto Artium de Cultural, San Paulo (2023) / Lugar Comum, Salvador (2022) / SCAD Museum of Art Savannah (2022) / Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York (2022) / Portico Library, Manchester (2021) / Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York (2019) / A Gentil Carioca, Rio de Janeiro (2018) / Stavanger Art Museum, Stavanger (2017) / Victoria Miro, London (2016).
Main collections: Catherine Petitgas Collection (London) / Guggenheim Museum (New York) / Institute of Contemporary art (Miami) / Jose Olympio Collection (San Paulo) / Magasin III (Stockholm) / Mara and Marcio Fainziliber Collection (Rio de Janeiro) / Marc and Livia Straus Family Collection (New York) / Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Niterói (Niterói)/ Museu de Arte do Rio (Rio de Janeiro) / Museu de Arte Moderna da Bahia (Salvador) / Museu de Arte Moderna (Rio de Janeiro), Museum of Fine Arts (Boston) / Pérez Art Museum Miami (Miami) / Rubell Family Collection Contemporary Arts Foundation (Miami) / Taguchi Art Collection (Tokyo), and other private collections.

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