Ernesto Neto and the Elastic Boundaries of an Organic World
Art’s ludic spirit finds a beautiful course in the work of this Brazilian artist.
Reconnecting with nature through games seems to be Ernesto Neto’s guideline: His works are slides, labyrinths, synthetic caves, or colorful motherly membranes. His multisensory artwork happens to be one of the most important heirs of neo-Concretism and as such it offers an array of multiple interpretations. Just like dreams that have crossed the boundaries of the material world, his installations challenge rational intelligence but seduce the senses and unfold into a plane of tangible symbols.
Born in Río de Janeiro in 1964, Neto chose the path of irreverence, sensuality and imagination so inherent to the spirit of Rio to manifest his ideas upon interactive canvases. Space becomes a live medium of exploration: ethereal and ectoplasmic. As such, Neto’s work invites us to slide into a metamorphosed organism, a sort of inner cellular forest: as if we were Alice for 15 minutes and we could travel to a Wonderland amongst flower stems and organelle ships.
Are these theme parks or sculptures? Are visitors moving through a museum or is this a psychedelic toy store? Is it like walking through an exhibition room or is it a return trip to the mother’s womb? Boundaries fade between sculpture, architecture, entertainment, and biology. Senses come together to create an immersive aesthetic experience. By flirting with synesthesia, the audience is motivated (which is more of a user than a spectator) to play with the different textures present in his art—some of which are fabrics used for making female undergarments—, and stimulated with symbiotic aromatherapy. Solemnity is lost and an emotional space is wide opened.
As an evolution of Brazilian neo-Concretism, his installations have been present in the most important museums of the world and are fostering a fascination for organic sculptures and bio-abstractions that conceive reality as a flow in constant transformation. In his work nature is altered by fantasy, by the continuance of idyllic childhoods: polyethylene worms, transparent wombs and nylon stalactites give place to, yes, Barney and the Teletubbies.
Neto urges us to “regain our ability to play”, and to do this he gifts us a psychoactive colorful cocktail, a huggable art, an artwork you can literally fall into in order to explore the invisible force of gravity. The interaction reveals a strange, excessive and vibrant universe where, as described by American writer Wallace Stevens: “imagination is the will of things”.
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