Hélio Oiticica

Born in 1937 in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), where he died in 1980.

Hélio Oiticica’s series of Metaesquemas [Meta-schemes], consists of over 350 gouaches on paper, which the artist completed between 1957 and 1958 and which feature uneven arrangements of geometrical figures. The irregular way in which the regular forms are f tted together generates a sensation of movement and rhythm, emphasized by the use of color.

In an attempt to distance himself from the classical principles of representation, which for him and his colleagues in Rio de Janeiro confined painting to the fictitious pictorial plane, the Metaesquemas can be read from the standpoint of Oiticica’s interest in destabilizing the spatial assumptions of concrete painting, an interest influenced by mathematical compositions, Gestalt’s ideas, seriality and constructivist color theories.

These pieces by Oiticica also reflect his affinity with Maurice Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenology of perception and the relationship established with the viewer.

In these pieces, Oiticica’s interest lies in the way forms inhabit and interact with the space of the plane. His aim is to challenge the two-dimensionality of painting and thereby destabilize the seriality of the arrangement by including movement in the pictorial space. After the Metaesquemas, Oiticica definitively abandoned painting in 1959 in favor of works that would invade physical space, following both the ideas of Merleau-Ponty and those expressed by the poet Ferreira Gullar in his Theory of the Non-Object. [B. C. / M. G. M.]