Rio de Janeiro, RJ, 1937 – 1980
One of the most prominent artists in Brazilian art history, Hélio Oiticica rose to fame in the 1960s and 1970s with innovations in art and in art criticism that, to this day, are still considered current and inspire hundreds of artists in Brazil and around the world. In a letter to Lygia Clark, who also produced innovative experiences, he said: "Today I am on the fringe of the fringe, the very outer fringe: the fringe of everything, which gives me surprising freedom of action”.
It was this freedom of action that Hélio Oiticica promoted, which presupposed an active audience participation in his works and not the mere passive contemplation of artworks. His “Penetráveis” (Penetrables) engaged vision, smell, touch, hearing and taste in the early 1960s. The “Parangolés”, from the late 1960s, were more involved with popular culture and carnival: they incorporated tents, standards and flags to wear and used in performances with dance, poetry and music portraying a collective cultural manifestation. The Parangolés are still being performed to this day and constitute a reference in contemporary performances.
Another important work of his collection is the Cosmococas, in which he combines the audience’s experiences in collectivity with his criticism about the society of spectacle. Non-narrative films by movie-producers such as Neville d' Almeida and Thomas Valentin are projected in environments created by the artist, filled with Penetráveis. A version of this artwork can be found at the Inhotim Institute pavilion dedicated to Hélio Oiticica.