Opening June 24 at CCS Bard’s Hessel Museum of Art, Erika Verzutti: Oil Moon Showcases Artist’s Distinctive Vocabulary of Recombining Dissimilar Elements to Create Hybrid Sculptural Forms
ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, NY, (March 6, 2023)—Marking her first major institutional survey in the U.S., Erika Verzutti: Oil Moon will spotlight the originality, intelligence, and material pleasure in the practice of São Paulo-based artist Erika Verzutti through over 60 sculptures and wall works from the past 15 years. The exhibition will introduce audiences to one of the most celebrated artists working in Brazil today, illuminating the many lines of inquiry—studies of art history, of being, of the natural world, and the cosmos—that converge and find new associations in Verzutti’s highly tactile creations. Curated by Lauren Cornell, Chief Curator at the Hessel Museum of Art and Director of the Graduate Program, the exhibition will be on view at CCS Bard’s Hessel Museum of Art from June 24 through October 15, 2023.
The works presented reflect Verzutti’s practice of cross-pollinating organic structures with references to the art historical canon, newspaper headlines, and online phenomena, resulting in wholly new forms that evocatively coalesce figuration and abstraction. Materials such as stones, vegetables, and tropical plants from Brazil are cast and playfully recombined with allusions to Jeff Koon’s Gazing Ball series, Constantin Brâncuşi’s Endless Column, and other iconic works ranging from Picasso to Brazilian modernism to the Paleolithic. Breaking with these artistic lineages, Verzutti’s works often point to their own making by bearing the trace of the artist’s hand—sometimes even her fingertips. This physicality carries through in three-dimensional wall works that have been molded, painted, and sunken into, showcasing Verzutti’s technical skill and exploration of materials across a wide range of media.
“Continuing CCS Bard’s commitment to supporting the most experimental and inventive artistic practices, Erika Verzutti: Oil Moon speaks to the boundless potential of cultivating an intimate conversation with the history of art,” said Tom Eccles, Executive Director of the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College. “The presentation of Erika Verzutti’s work continues CCS Bard’s innovative approach to monographic exhibitions by artists working in the international sphere.”
Cornell notes, “Taking its name from a 2020 wall relief that resembles the surface of the moon, Oil Moon reveals the creative facets of Verzutti’s practice, which can be likened to a cosmos, one that gravitationally rotates around core ideas and references—nature, culture, and art, among them—just as it explodes out into new forms and objects.”
Following a series of acclaimed solo exhibitions at the Museu de Arte de São Paulo (2021), Nottingham Contemporary (2021), and at the Centre Pompidou (2019), Erika Verzutti: Oil Moon marks the first opportunity for American audiences to experience the artist’s work comprehensively in an institutional presentation. The exhibition will be accompanied by a full-color publication offering new scholarship on her practice with essays by Cornell, as well as curators Ruba Katrib (CCS Bard ‘07) and Bernardo Mosqueira (CCS Bard ‘21), and additional descriptive texts by Verzutti on individual artworks.
The exhibition opens with a selection of Verzutti’s wall reliefs, intimately scaled works that straddle between two and three dimensionality and that build upon a range of art historical references and inspirations. Highlights include Homeopatia Mondrian (2020) and Van Gogh with Eggs (2015), both of which recall the signature styles of the two iconic painters with egg-like shapes and impressions inserted, as if to nod to the fertile ground that history can provide for the creation of new work.
In the main exhibition gallery stands what the artist refers to as a “parade” of sculptures representing a cross-section of Verzutti’s practice since 2005. Cutting across various bodies or “families” of work, the installation features her small “Tarsila” bronzes that tease phallic sculptural shapes as well as stacked totems such as Egg Tower (2013) and Cocoa Tower (2021) that visualize the Modernist mandate to “cannibalize” cultural influences and precedents, a concept first articulated by Brazilian poet and polemicist Oswald de Andrade’s Anthropophagic Manifesto in 1928. Within this installation are also Verzutti’s iconic fruits and vegetables that take form as voluptuous bronze and concrete “Venuses”—reclaiming misogynistic tropes in celebration of erotic hunger.
Alongside these sculptures is a presentation of wall-reliefs from Verzutti’s cosmos series, including Oil Moon (2020), an oil on concrete work that resembles the moon’s surface as seen through a telescope, as well as Black Sun (2015), featuring an expressive white circle of wax upon a bronze background. In Marshmallow Amazonino (2019), a playful constellation of soft marshmallow-like forms hover above a bronze plane, which references in part a sculptural series by fellow Brazilian artist Ligia Pape inspired by aerial views of the Amazon.
Also on view is a special presentation of sculptures from the series “Brasilia,” marking a rare opportunity to experience multiple works from this family of work. Reflecting upon the dichotomies inherent in her home country, the series explores the violence and beauty of the capital city’s Modernist urbanization through the metaphorically sharp rind and supple interior of a spiny jackfruit.
About Erika Verzutti
Drawing upon a wide range of references, from pop culture and contemporary art to the natural world, Erika Verzutti creates highly tactile creations across media.
Verzutti’s work has been the focus of solo exhibitions at MASP – Museu de Arte de São Paulo (2021); Nottingham Contemporary, Nottingham (2021); Centre Pompidou, Paris (2019); Aspen Art Museum, Aspen (2019); Pivô, São Paulo (2016); SculptureCenter, New York (2015); Tang Museum, Saratoga Springs (2014); and Centro Cultural São Paulo (2012). Select exhibitions include the 57th Venice Biennale (2017); 32nd Bienal de São Paulo (2016); 34th Panorama of Brazilian Art, Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo (2015); 2013 Carnegie International, Pittsburgh (2013); 9th Bienal do Mercosul, Porto Alegre (2013); and the 11th Biennale de Lyon (2011). Her work is in the collections of Tate Modern, London; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; Guggenheim Museum, New York; Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo; and Pinacoteca do Estado, São Paulo, among others.
Verzutti was born in São Paulo in 1971, where she lives and works. She has a bachelor’s degree in industrial design from the Universidade Mackenzie (1991) and a master’s degree in fine art at Goldsmiths College (London, UK, 2000). She is represented in the U.S. by Andrew Kreps Gallery, in Brazil by Fortes D’Aloia & Gabriel, in England by Alison Jacques, and in Japan by Misako and Rosen.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a publication offering new scholarships on her practice with essays by Lauren Cornell; Ruba Katrib, Curator, MoMA PS1; Bernardo Mosqueira, ISLAA Curatorial Fellow at the New Museum; as well as texts by Verzutti on individual artworks. The publication Erika Verzutti: Oil Moon is co-published by Dancing Foxes, New York; the Institute for Studies on Latin American Art (ISLAA), New York; and the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College.
Exhibition Organization and Credits
Erika Verzutti: Oil Moon is organized by CCS Bard and curated by Lauren Cornell, Chief Curator at the Hessel Museum and Director of the Graduate Program.
Exhibitions at CCS Bard and the Hessel Museum of Art are made possible with generous support from Lonti Ebers, the Marieluise Hessel Foundation, the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation, the Board of Governors of the Center for Curatorial Studies, the CCS Bard Exhibition Circle, and the Center’s Patrons, Supporters, and Friends.
Additional support for Erika Verzutti: Oil Moon and the accompanying catalogue is generously provided by the Institute for Studies on Latin American Art (ISLAA), New York.
About the Hessel Museum of Art
CCS Bard’s Hessel Museum of Art advances experimentation and innovation in contemporary art through its dynamic exhibitions and programs. Located on the campus of Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, the Hessel organizes and presents group exhibitions and thematic surveys, monographic presentations, traveling exhibitions, as well as student-curated shows that are free and open to the public. The museum’s program draws inspiration from its unparalleled collection of contemporary art, which features the Marieluise Hessel Collection at its core and comprises more than 3,000 objects collected contemporaneously from the 1960s through the present day.
The Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College The Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College (CCS Bard) is the leading institution dedicated to curatorial studies, a field exploring the conditions that inform contemporary exhibition-making and artistic practice. Through its Graduate Program, Library and Archives, and the Hessel Museum of Art, CCS Bard serves as an incubator for interdisciplinary practices, advances new and underrepresented perspectives in contemporary art, and cultivates a student body from diverse backgrounds in a broad effort to transform the curatorial field. CCS Bard’s dynamic and multifaceted program includes exhibitions, symposia, publications, and public events, which explore the critical potential of the practice of exhibition-making.