Paulo Monteiro

Paulo Monteiro: The Middle Distance

We are pleased to announce a new solo exhibition by Paulo Monteiro, four years after his first exhibition at Zeno X Gallery.

As a young artist in São Paulo in the 1980s, Paulo Monteiro was fascinated by comics, cartoons and underground magazines from the US. Another important source of inspiration were the paintings of Philip Guston, an American artist who incorporated cartoonish figures into his works and who is seen as one of the forefathers of neoexpressionism. Although Paulo Monteiro’s current practice seems far removed from Philip Guston’s figurative paintings, Guston’s humour and strongly delineated contours are an enduring influence.

In 1982 Paulo Monteiro was one of the co-founders of ‘Casa 7’, an artist collective and venue that functioned as a studio and exhibition space. ‘Casa 7’ brought together a generation of artists who wanted to offer an alternative to the (neo-)concrete art that was ubiquitous in Brazil and that focused mainly on rigid geometric compositions. Around this time, Paulo Monteiro created large paintings with an emphatic focus on the organic, expressive line as well as sculptures using residual materials such as wood, iron rods and rope.

Paulo Monteiro’s oeuvre consists of drawings, paintings and sculptures. The artist’s main theme is the line. He has a penchant for flowing lines that seek out the edges of the canvas. In his paintings, he pushes the paint forward with his fingers, causing it to accumulate and create borders. In this respect, he treats paint as a material rather than a colour. His sculptures are placed on the ground without a plinth. They lean against or hang on the wall and can be read as the three-dimensional contours of a painting. He moulds his sculptures like lines. They are folded, connected and cut, and he lets gravity do its work. The use of colour plays a major role: the light, sweet colours seem to strip the bronze sculptures of their weight.

The relation of his works to the surrounding space is of elementary importance, as is the spatial relation between the different media when they are combined on the wall, often in a playful manner. The works have individual qualities and stand alone, but also function when grouped together. Different configurations are possible in which all elements are considered of equal value.

In 2014 MoMA (New York) acquired a large group of works by Paulo Monteiro, including drawings, gouaches, sculptures and paintings. His work has been shown in exhibitions at Pinacoteca do Estado (São Paulo), Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Lévy Gorvy (New York), Mendes Wood DM, Pace Gallery (New York) and Fundaçao Calouste Gulbenkian (Lisbon). He has participated twice in the São Paulo Art Biennial, in 1985 and 1994

Artists: Paulo Monteiro