Rio de Janeiro native Ernesto Neto is often quoted as saying, “I am sculpture and think as sculpture.” Neto’s been exhibiting internationally since the 1990s, and the artist’s latest biomorphic work is a natural evolution of that oft-cited quote, tailored to the spaces each piece inhabits. From a distance, these new, vibrant installations appear as though they grew inside these walls organically. But Neto’s work isn’t meant to be enjoyed from afar.
In his current show at Helsinki’s Kiasma, “Boa,” visitors are again invited to touch and inhabit his constructions. At close inspection, the meticulous hand-crocheting and knotting of the fabric comes into focus. Scents, such as lavender or clove, are paired with works; makeshift ceilings envelope viewers into becoming components of the work. As shown in this 2012 Hi-Fructose post, Neto’s work can sometimes feel like they’re pulled from a viewer’s own body, even as they tower above.
Pieces like one highlighted by Hi-Fructose during Miami Art Week 2014 or “Casa de cura (Healing House),” shown below, also display the intimacy possible in these installations. “Boa,” his first solo endeavor in Finland, maintains an artistic relationship with the Huni Kuin, an indigenous people of Peru and Brazil. On a pragmatic level, “Boa” is tethered to woven, ceremonial nature of goods created in this culture in its handiwork. Yet, there’s a shamanic, metaphysical undercurrent to Neto’s recent work. Though, to understand it completely, viewers may need to step inside first.
Photographs by Petri Virtanen/Kansallisgalleria, Finnish National Gallery