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Celso Renato, <em>Untitled,</em> s/d, acrylic on wood, 21 × 21 × 2 cm - Mendes Wood DM
Celso Renato, <em>Untitled</em>, s/d, acrylic on wood, 75 × 24 × 2 cm - Mendes Wood DM
Celso Renato, <em>Untitled</em>, s/d, acrylic on wood, 75,5 × 31 × 7 cm - Mendes Wood DM
Celso Renato, <em>Untitled</em>, s/d, acrylic on wood, 75,5 × 31 × 7 cm - Mendes Wood DM
Celso Renato, <em>Untitled</em>, 1988, painting on wood,  22 × 30 × 9 cm - Mendes Wood DM
Celso Renato, <em>Untitled</em>, s/d, painting on wood, 80 × 80 cm - Mendes Wood DM
Celso Renato, <em>Fragmentos</em>, s/d, wood painted with acrylic paint, 33 × 21 × 10 cm - Mendes Wood DM
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Celso Renato, <em>Untitled,</em> s/d, acrylic on wood, 21 × 21 × 2 cm - Mendes Wood DM
Celso Renato, <em>Untitled</em>, s/d, acrylic on wood, 75 × 24 × 2 cm - Mendes Wood DM
Celso Renato, <em>Untitled</em>, s/d, acrylic on wood, 75,5 × 31 × 7 cm - Mendes Wood DM
Celso Renato, <em>Untitled</em>, s/d, acrylic on wood, 75,5 × 31 × 7 cm - Mendes Wood DM
Celso Renato, <em>Untitled</em>, 1988, painting on wood,  22 × 30 × 9 cm - Mendes Wood DM
Celso Renato, <em>Untitled</em>, s/d, painting on wood, 80 × 80 cm - Mendes Wood DM
Celso Renato, <em>Fragmentos</em>, s/d, wood painted with acrylic paint, 33 × 21 × 10 cm - Mendes Wood DM
Text

14/11 2017 – 15/01 2018


Mendes Wood DM is pleased to present the first solo exhibition of Celso Renato (1919 – 1992) in the United States. A seminal contributor to the constructivist movement of Minas Gerais (Brazil), Renato imbued his abstract-geometric compositions with forms derived from Indigenous and African motifs. Using red, white and black paint on found pieces of wood and architectural salvage; Renato’s works inhabit a playful duality, harmonizing the rudimentary and the sophisticated to build a new vernacular.

A self-taught artist, Renato worked as a lawyer for most of his adult life. He began painting in the 1960s and dedicated himself exclusively to working with wood by the 1980s. This exhibition brings together a group of Renato’s most iconic works, which demonstrate the artist’s particular and seemingly effortless gesture, at once the embodiment of a new style of constructivism and an ode to the haphazardness of found materials and organic configurations.

Renato utilized discarded scraps of wood and other reclaimed materials found around the city of Belo Horizonte and from his own home. He favored materials full of texture and imperfection; drawing inspiration from the imprint of history he found in their irregular cuttings, fractures, holes, nails and stains. These qualities served as the departure point for his compositions. Renato took extreme pains to preserve the authenticity of these wooden elements; his meditative practice oftentimes involved contemplation for weeks or months before considering what form his works would take on.

Hermetic by nature, Renato created his own singular visual language by synthesizing and interpreting the landscapes of Minas Gerais – the swelling of mountains and valleys and the vastness of the sky is felt everywhere in his compositions. Standing an equal distance from the celebrated folk tradition of landscape painters and the Neo-Concrete, Renato created a dynamic blend of the geometric proposal of the painting and the organic nature of his medium. This innovative approach led to Renato’s participation in the 17th International Biennial of São Paulo (1983), which marked a key truing point in the development of constructivism.

Renato is considered one of the most influential figures of the Brazilian constructivist movement, and yet, somewhat ironically, his compositions are not composed of a calculated, arithmetic geometry, but rather an organic and textured geometry, fueled by the actual medium.

Celso Renato (1919 – 1992) lived and worked in Minas Gerais, Brazil. His work was most recently included in Building Material: Process And Form In Brazilian Art, Hauser and Wirth, Los Angeles, CA (2017). Selected solo exhibitions include: Celso Renato, Mendes Wood DM, São Paulo, Brazil (2015); Celso Renato, Itaú Galeria, Belo Horizonte, Brazil (1990); Pace Arte Galeria, Belo Horizonte, Brazil (1988); Retrospectiva, Museu Mineiro, Belo Horizonte, Brazil (1985); Galeria Luisa Strina, São Paulo, Brazil (1982). Selected group exhibitions include: Kiti Ka'Aeté, The Modern Institute, Glasgow, UK (2015); Bienal do Século XX, Fundação Bienal de São Paulo, Brazil (1994); 4 X Minas, Museu de Arte de São Paulo (MASP), São Paulo, Brazil (1994); Begegnung mit den Anderen, Kasel, Alemanha 1992); Ícones da Utopia, Fundação Palácio das Artes, Belo Horizonte, Brazil (1990); Construção Selvagem, Centro Cultural São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil Construção Selvagem, Palácio das Artes, Belo Horizonte, Brazil; 20º Bienal Internacional de Arte de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil (1989); 17º Panorama de Arte Atual Brasileira, Museu de Arte Moderna, São Paulo, Brazil (1986); 8º Salão Global de Inverno, Museu de Arte de São Paulo (MASP), São Paulo, Brazil (1981); 9º Bienal Internacional de Arte de São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil (1967).

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