Fortes Vilaça is pleased to present its final exhibition of the year: Mitodengo, by Ernesto Neto, at the Galpão. The show features a single sculpture of monumental proportions – five meters long and nearly five high – made up of eleven 1.5-meter-diameter pieces of steel weighing 400 kg each. This is the first time that Neto has used metal in the creation of a large-scale artwork.
The artist began working with solid materials in mid-2006. During a six-month artist residency at Atelier Calder, in Saché, France, Neto experimented with sculptural possibilities based on cuts made by laser in a range of hard materials. The creative process begins with graphite drawings of the pieces; later the image is digitalized and sent to a company specialized in cutting steel.
In Mitodengo, each steel piece presents an individual and organic design, fitting together with the others like the parts of a puzzle. With simple shapes that recall children’s toys from the 1970s, the heavy pieces are assembled without the need for welds or other means of fastening, since their shapes interlock as they are set delicately in place with the help of a crane. The work is one of precise balance and dialogue with gravity – essential characteristics in the oeuvre of this artist – since the object’s stability stems from the relation of tension among the parts instilled by the force of gravity. “Mitodengo is a line sculpture, a drawing in space, a line of points that encounter one another and fit together, kissing each other in a continuous dance of male/female outlines,” Neto states.
Once again, the artist has surprisingly used rigid material to make a sculpture with the same light, sinuous and sensual movement seen in his soft works made of fabric. The delicate form of Mitodengo is counterpoised against the rawness and hardness of the steel. For the artist, this artwork “concerns the possibility of poetry and sweetness even in a world hard like steel. Dengo is a way of looking, caring for and embracing without touching, while the Mitos are like everyday micromyths, that appear and add up like a line of a drawing.”
Neto is a leading name in contemporary sculpture. In May of this year he created his largest and most ambitious work to date: measuring 21 x 37 x 58 meters, Anthropodino took up the entire space of Drill Hall at Park Avenue Armory, New York. In 2006, Neto showed the impressive work Leviathan Thot, which occupied the entire interior of the Pantheon in Paris. The artist has also participated in two Venice Biennales, and in 2008 he held a solo show at MACRO (Museu d’Arte Contemporanea di Roma). In 2010, his work will be featured in solo shows at Hayward Gallery, in London, and at MAM–SP (Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo).