Sunday, December 19, 2010

Gallery Hopping in Rio - Gávea

Joquei Clube
The Jockey Club in Rio. Gávea lies just behind it.

Earlier this month I spent ten days in Rio de Janeiro. Regular readers of this blog will know that I have a particular interest in Brazilian art. More than in any previous trip I have made to Rio, I set aside as much time as possible to explore museums and galleries. Over the next few posts, I will write about my recent trip. I have two goals: to offer tips whenever possible for travelers who will seek out visual art while in Rio; and, to talk briefly about what I saw during my own visit.

After you arrive in Rio, obtain a copy of Mapa Das Artes Rio De Janeiro (“Map of the Arts”), the local gallery guide. The pamphlet is free and available at bookstores and cultural destinations. It is written in Portuguese only, but regardless of your linguistic skill level it becomes an indispensable tool for art trekking. Destinations are grouped by category: Museums and Public Spaces; Galleries and Art Offices; Institutional Spaces; and Ateliers, Services, and Other. The city and neighborhood maps are the most valuable feature of the guide. The reverse side has event and exhibition listings. A map in a travel guide may show you locations of large museums, but will not pinpoint the galleries and ateliers. There is a web version at which is clumsier to use, though it links to Google maps. Rio & Cultura is another online option (again, some knowledge of Portuguese required).

I used the Mapa Das Artes to plan my itinerary by looking for clusters of destinations where I could focus my limited time most efficiently. My gallery hopping centered in two neighborhoods: Gávea and Centro. In this post I will concentrate on Gávea.

Galeria Anita Schwartz

Otavio Schipper and Sergio Krakowski - Inconsciente Mecânico

Using Praça Santos Dumont as a starting point, I first visited Anita Schwartz Galeria de Arte (Rua José Roberto Macedo Soares 30). Housed in its own building, there are two floors of gallery space inside. The ground level has a large “white cube” gallery, and upper level has smaller gallery with an open air patio and a shipping container that was set up as a theater on the interior. The ambience here was slick and corporate. The primary exhibition was Otavio Schipper’s and Sergio Krakowski’s Inconsciente Mecânico ("Mechanical Unconscious"), a collaboration between an artist and musician. Their installation of antique telegraph machines had a strong auditory component, as they clicked and responded to recorded telephone ringers and synthesized sounds in a low-light setting.

Silvia Cintra + Box 4

Silvia Cintra + Box 4

Silvia Cintra + Box 4 (Rua das Acácias 104) is a similar gallery, also occupying its own building on a quiet street set in the shadow of Atlantic rainforest that branches from the bordering Jardim Botânico. The minimalist design of both Anita Schwartz Galeria de Arte and Silvia Cintra + Box 4 integrate surprisingly well amongst the older architecture of the neighborhood. The featured exhibition was Rodrigo Matheus’ Hollywood.

Galeria Anna Maria Niemeyer

Galeria Anna Maria Niemeyer has two sites, one of which is situated directly on Praça Santos Dumont. The other is a little more of a challenge to find. It is on the second floor of Shopping da Gávea (Rua Marquês de São Vicente, 52). In Brazil, the word “shopping” is used for what we would simply term a “mall”. Be aware that the two locations have different days and hours of operation. On view at the Shopping da Gávea gallery was Pinturas (“Paintings”) by João Magalhães.

Finally, I visited Contorno Artes (Rua Marquês de São Vicente, 142), located in Gávea Trade Center, an office building with an arcade of shops on its first two floors. Conotorno Artes does not mount temporary exhibitions; it displays works from its holdings of Brazilian artists, which are available for purchase.

If the idea of an art gallery in a shopping mall conjures thoughts of the stores that sell over-reproduced posters and prints of questionable taste, as well cheap framing, put those thoughts out of your head. These are honest-to-god galleries. While not all malls are created equally, in Brazil they are viewed as chic places for high-end shopping and lack the stigma that hovers around the mall culture in America.

Jardim Botânico

Jardim Botânico

If you are in the area, it would be a shame to miss out on Jardim Botânico, which is within short walking distance from all of the galleries mentioned above. It is easy to spend many hours walking Jardim Botânico’s vast acreage, so my plan of attack was to budget the morning for galleries and the afternoon for the gardens.

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