Henrique Oliveira

the art of
Henrique Oliveira
(Brazil, 1973)

When Henrique Oliveira returned to his home in Ourinhos, Brazil, after graduating from college in 1997 with a degree in social communication, he found the resolve to change course and dedicate himself to painting. A year later, he installed his first show in a bar in São Paulo and within a few short months was enrolled in the prestigious fine arts program at the University of São Paulo. His emphasis shifted over the course of his studies from pictorial illusion to experiments with surface. He began to layer canvas on canvas like a collage, or rub sand into his paint to add texture. As he worked, he watched the wood fencing--known as tapumes--around a construction site across from his studio weather and deteriorate. A week before the end-of-year student exhibition, the fences came down. He gathered the wood and set to work on his first installation.

Oliveira's use of weathered strips of tapumes to evoke the stroke of a paintbrush or the folds of human flesh has become a trademark. His installations, combined with his ongoing explorations of the expressive movement and cumulative effects of layers of paint, have rapidly earned Oliveira international recognition. His work has been exhibited on three continents and in 2010 he was included in both the São Paulo and Monterrey Biennials and received Brazil's illustrious Marcantonio Vilaça prize for the arts. The National Museum of African Art is proud to be the first US museum to showcase the work of this emerging star as part of a dialogue with South Africa's Sandile Zulu.


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