Americas Society is proud to present Antonio Manuel: I Want to Act, Not Represent!, the first solo exhibition in the United States of Brazilian artist Antonio Manuel (b.1947, Portugal). Curated by Claudia Calirman and Gabriela Rangel, the show focuses on Antonio Manuel’s preeminent role in the development of the groundbreaking neo-avant-garde movement that emerged in Rio de Janeiro during the 1960s. During the most repressive years of the Brazilian military dictatorship (1968-1974) Antonio Manuel’s artworks and actions instigated and were many times at the center of controversial debates concerning institutional censorship. While some of his closest friends associated with Tropicalismo and the intellectual milieu of Rio de Janeiro were forced into exile during the military regime, Antonio Manuel managed to remain in Brazil. Throughout this time he created a politically potent and visually striking corpus of experimental work that blended Neoconcrete, Pop, and Conceptual art.
The title of the exhibition draws from Antonio Manuel’s first solo show in 1966 at Goeldi Gallery in Rio de Janeiro. There he exhibited a number of drawings made on newspaper pages, which according to the art critic Ronaldo Brito, “constituted a statement of intentions: ‘I don’t want to represent, I want to Act.’” Antonio Manuel is emblematic of an artist who actively infiltrated an oppressive system that was driven to keep “subversive” work dormant. Stretching the limits of traditional media, he pioneered Body art and multidisciplinary artistic practices in tandem with participatory preoccupations advanced by Brazilian artists and critics after a decade of debate between Concrete and Neoconcrete movements.
Antonio Manuel: I Want to Act, Not Represent! gathers drawings, films, installations, and sculptures, as well as documentation on the artist’s radical performances. Well-known in Europe and Latin America for his appropriation of images from the mass media, the exhibition presents a condensed selection of works in which he developed a distinctive visual idiom through the use of the news-printing process. The variety of artworks featured in the exhibition is a testament to the artist’s position as one of Brazil’s most prominent artists.
As part of Antonio Manuel: I Want to Act, Not Represent! Americas Society and Associação para o Patronato Contemporâneo (APC) will publish a fully illustrated catalogue featuring essays by Beverly Adams, Michael Asbury, Claudia Calirman, Antonio Manuel, Gabriela Rangel, and Judith Rodenbeck. In conjunction with the exhibition Americas Society will also partner with Columbia University to present The Politics of Camouflage in Artistic Practices from the 1970s, a symposium exploring the experimental artistic drive that emerged during political repression.
The exhibition Antonio Manuel: I Want to Act, Not Represent! as well as its catalogue and public programs are made possible by the generous support of FullComex Trading, Petrobras, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Brazil and the Consulate General of Brazil in New York, Credit Suisse, Itaú BBA, the Tinker Foundation, Andrea and José Olympio Pereira, and in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.