Sarah Morris: Bye Bye Brazil, London

Incorporating a film and a series of new paintings into her latest exhibition at White Cube, Bermondsey, Sarah Morris’ Bye Bye Brazil is named after Carlos Diegues’ ground-breaking film from the 1970s that captured a significant moment in the modernisation of contemporary Brazil. Running until 29 September, the exhibition focuses upon the country on the verge of an era of dramatic transformation. 

Painting and filmmaking are parallel activities within the artist’s practice and she sees them as a way of investigating, tracing and playing with “urban, social and bureaucratic typologies”. Morris’ 11th film Rio (2012) details the various and complex layers within this contradictory city. Looking at both its highly planned and eroticised surface image and the brutal realities of day-to-day living in the urban mass.

Taking on numerous locations, including the office of architect Oscar Niemeyer just before his death, the headquarters’ of the Mayor of Rio, Eduardo Paes, the infamous Carnival and its Winner’s Parade, the legendary City of God neighbourhood, as well as the inside of the Brahma beer factory, Morris explores the city’s architecture and how it constructs social interaction. The images within the sequence jump from micro to macro, day to nigh, and as such Rio is a hallucinatory space that explores the psychology of Brazil at a particular moment in its history, recognising how the behaviour, signs and surfaces map out the locations political history.

Within the Rio paintings the artist utilises new forms and colours to expand and reduce her abstract compositions. Sourcing her inspiration from a wide range of places – the work of Roberto Burle Marx, Lina Bo Bardi, Oscar Niemeyer, lunar cycles, fruit and even Bossa Nova album covers – her pieces are constructed of vivid parts whose curves, vectors and interlocking spheres refer to Rio’s many social forms and a type of perception. Referencing the Carnival at Sambódromo, the city’s numerous fruit juice bars, its beach chairs and umbrellas and the industrial design of mainstream Brazilian products such as Brahma beer, Morris’ vivid creations recall the characters and psychology of the Brazilian city.

Sarah Morris: Bye Bye Brazil, until 29 September, White Cube, 144 – 152 Bermondsey Street, London SE1 3TQ.

1. Sarah Morris Academia Militar [Rio] 2012 Household gloss on canvas 84 1/4 x 84 1/4 in. (214 x 214 cm)© Sarah Morris Photo: Ben Westoby Courtesy White Cube.
2. Sarah Morris Apple [Rio] 2012 Household gloss on canvas 84 1/4 x 84 1/4 in. (214 x 214 cm)© Sarah Morris Photo: Ben Westoby Courtesy White Cube.
2. Sarah Morris Sambódromo da Marquês de Sapucaí [Rio]2012 Household gloss on canvas 84 1/4 x 84 1/4 in. (214 x 214 cm) © Sarah Morris Photo: Ben Westoby Courtesy White Cube.

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