One of Brazil’s most highly regarded contemporary artists, Iran do Espírito Santo (b. 1963) is known for his austere yet sensuous drawings, wall paintings, and sculptures. Playground is his first public work in the United States. At first glance it looks like a massive cube made from large stone blocks – but with a number of blocks missing at the corners. On closer examination it becomes evident that the work hasn’t been constructed out of individual elements but rather cast in stone-like concrete as a unified form. We see that the “mortar” is exactly the same as the “block” itself and that the entire sculpture is consistent in color, texture, and finish. The “missing” corner elements were never there but are instead deliberately composed openings that allow transparency and access to the interior space.
Do Espírito Santo speaks of the work as a kind of “idealized ruin” that is also a metaphorical playground. As a child the artist loved to play with building blocks. Given its architectural materials and oversized scale, Playground is a bit like a blown up cartoon image of a child’s fantasy building. At the same time, the artist has created a subtle and elegant play between perception and reality, construction and destruction, and between idealized form and everyday objects and materials.
This exhibition is curated by Nicholas Baume.
Made possible by Itaú BBA, with support from Itaú Cultural in association with Be Brasil.
Special thanks to Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg; First Deputy Mayor Patricia E. Harris;
Department of Cultural Affairs Commissioner Kate D. Levin; Department of Parks & Recreation
Commissioner Veronica M. White; and Central Park Conservancy President Douglas Blonsky.
Public Art Fund exhibitions are supported in part by the National Endowment
for the Arts and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.
Playground is courtesy of Sean Kelly Gallery, New York, and Galeria Fortes Vilaça, São Paulo.
Central Park, 60th Street & 5th Avenue
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