Documents of 20th-century Latin American and Latino Art

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    Héctor Olea interviews Abraham Palatinik on the subject of his Chromo-kinetic works, his artistic process and specifically about Aparelho cinecromático [Chromo-kinetic Set], 1962, a work from the Adolpho Leirner Collection of Brazilian Constructive Art. Before the interview, Olea provides a brief introduction, complete with Palatnik’s educational background and key events that led up to his development as an artist. In the interview, Palatnik talks about the use of light which became his first conception of Kinetic art.

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    In this interview, Héctor Olea discusses the journey of Brazilian artist Abraham Palatnik’s artistic career as well as the development of his Chromo-kinetic works. Palatnik was a self-taught painter and landscaper who enrolled in a fine arts studio of modern art in present-day Tel Aviv. During WWII, he took courses that taught mechanics for the British Army. In 1948 he returned to Rio de Janeiro, Palatnik met artist Almir Mavigner and Dr. Nise da Silveira, which for him, proved to be a pivotal moment. Dr. Nise da Silveira was the director of the psychiatric hospital Engenho de Dentro in Rio, who allowed Mavigner to supply the patients with painting tools and drawing materials. This experience was a major impact for Palatnik, as it destroyed his previous concepts about art making.

     

    During this time, Palatnik also met Mário Pedrosa, who was already an art critic and theoretician. Pedrosa shared many influential texts with Palatnik and in 1949 he abandoned the “stationary limitations of the visual arts.” He began to “engineer devices assembled with joints and gears and connected to motors in order to make kinetics, not representation, the focus of his groundbreaking work.” He applied to the First São Paulo Biennial in 1951 and was initially rejected, but after a country withdrawal, he was allowed to exhibit a piece that was awarded “honorary mention.” A version of that work is Aparelho cinecromático [Chromo-kinetic Set], 1962, a work from the Adolpho Leirner Collection of Brazilian Constructive Art, which finds its permanent home at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

     

    This interview is crucial in understanding the development of Chromo-Kinetic art and provides first-hand informative material from Palatnik, regarding his works and career. [See in ICAA digital archive, the texts: “The Key Role of Criticism in the Experimental and Avant-Garde Trends: Mário Pedrosa” by Francisco Alambert (doc. no. 1324651), “Brazilian Concretismo” by Nicolau Sevcenko (doc. no. 1324569) and “Max Bill on the Map of Argentine-Brazilian Concrete Art” by Maria Amalia Garcia (doc. no. 1324602) regarding the publication Building on a Construct: The Adolpho Leirner Collection of Brazilian Constructive Art].

     

    Héctor Olea is the translations and publications editor for the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and the International Center for the Arts of the Americas (ICAA), as well as an intellectual, independent scholar and curator specializing in Latin American modern art. He has organized, contributed to and edited numerous publications including but not limited to, Critical Documents of 20th Century Latin American and Latino Art: Resisting Categories (2012); Building on a Construct (2010); Inverted Utopias (2006) and Versions and Inversions (2006).