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Helio Oiticica
b. 1937
d. 1980 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Color is the first revelation of the world.

—Helio Oiticica

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A prominent figure in the modernist Brazilian avant-garde of the 1950s and ’60s, Hélio Oiticica produced paintings in the Neo-Constructivist style of geometric abstraction, experimenting with color, form, and material. Oiticica’s _Metaesquemas_ (1957–8), painted in gouache on cardboard, are grids of rectangular or rhomboidal shapes in variations of blue, red, and black; the shapes often appear to mirror each other bilaterally, but on closer inspection conform to more complex patterns. He also produced three-dimensional works, often crude painted boxes suspended in space and painted in warm hues of red, yellow, and orange. Oiticica’s Parangoles (1964–8), multicolored versions of carnival costumes, were the product of time spent living among the inhabitants of favelas in Rio de Janeiro. He and his younger brother Cesar studied under Ivan Serpa and were associated with Serpa’s Grupo Frente, a loose collective of artists that also included Lygia Clark and Lygia Pape. Modernists Piet Mondrian, Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky, and Kasimir Malevich were also major influences on Oiticica’s work.

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