The Embassy of Brazil in New Delhi – Bikaner House New Delhi
Opening October, 8th 2022 Saturday 11am – 5pm
until October, 17th Mon – Sat 10am – 6pm
Bikaner House Gate No 3 Shahjahan Road New Delhi, India
The Embassy of Brazil in New Delhi cordially invites you to the opening of the Architecture of Silence exhibition (by Indian curator Sumesh Manoj Sharma) organized as part of the celebrations of 200 years of Brazilian independence and 75 years of Indian independence.
The show features a Brazilian artist, Rodrigo Garcia Dutra and an Indian artist Samit Das in dialogue through paintings and other video works and diverse materials.
See below the curator’s essay about the exhibition and the two artists:
Architecture of Silence
Abstração e Céu
We live in an age of humongous homogenisation , in the architecture that holds human habitat for many millennia , one which is entirely alienating in its approach to the human body – in its physicality and its psychological presence in society , in the economies of equity , cultural history , environment and social cohesion. Glass facades invade not only shopping malls and workspaces but also apartment complexes , temples, museums and most imaginaries of architectural contemporaneity. Nature and climate are air-conditioned out of existence where humans exist in sterilized ignorance. A Delhi based artist Samit Das excavates histories of human interaction with architecture as the primary habitat of human life through studies of archaeology. Architecture that has gone silent .
Archaeology in India has been a colonial act , an act that allowed Western Europe to appropriate successorship to ancient Greece , one that allowed Paris and Rome to adorn their piazzas and squares with stolen Egyptian Obelisks. Das sees archaeology as the unearthing of architecture that has fallen silent under the weight of soil and time , how nature reclaims and perhaps preserves human history. The inquisitiveness of orientalism, occidental needs for Indic studies and the colonial aptitude to author histories of its conquered lands lead to many magnificent archaeological discoveries across India. Museums were established , scripts deciphered, religious texts were translated, obsessive Indologists wrote our histories across five millenia and at a crucial moment in history prevented it all from being lost. They did cart away the gems to museums in London but their scholarship and efforts define India’s identity to this day.
Architecture was also used to define national identity in many fledgling nations , even though Brazil became a republic delineating it from its European colonial legacy was urgent by the 1940s and modernism was a defining source of philosophical political change. In 1949 , the 36 year old Oscar Niemeyer completed the Ministry of Education in Rio de Janeiro under the aesthetic slogan of “novo homem, Brasileiro e moderno” – the new man is Brazilian and modern . In 1960 with Lucio Costa he designed the Praça dos Três Poderes or the ‘Three Powers Plaza’ that held the presidential office, the supreme court and the legislative assembly of Brazil’s newly inaugurated capital Brasilia. The plaza was designed to hold power in accessibility and accountability and Neimeyer whilst designing the “Palácio da Alvorada” or “Palace of Dawn” , drew on a spiritual context of the rise of the Sun and a new beginning for Brazil. His buildings sat like pavilions on water , they held great inspiration from the fauna and flora of Brazil’s Equatorial forests, its magnificent trees and the topography of the land. The design was modern but not drawn from European Sensibility , the interiors held art works of Brazilian painters one of them was Vincente do Rego Monteiro’s Abstração e Céu or the ‘ Abstract and the Sky’. Early on both in India and in Brazil geometric patterns informing abstraction drawn from indigenous sources were vocabularies of modernism.
A young artist Rodrigo Garcia Dutra saw Brasilia as both an aesthetical and spiritual source. Neimeyer’s designs for the deputy chambers of the Brazilian National Congress or parliament contained spherical forms that resembled celestial forms according to Dutra and he stitched together a video – ‘Fieri ‘ – which is an expression in Latin that denotes the process of accomplishment or beginning to have existence: not yet completely formed. In the video Dutra introduces symbols and spheres that resemble celestial bodies and sketches of Oscar Niemeyer. In 2022 whilst on a visit to India he came across the Jawahar Kala Kendra where the Indian architect Charles Correa inspired by the Maharaja Jai Singh’s 18th century plan for the city of Jaipur that he founded based on the ‘Navagraha Mandala’ – a constellation of nine houses for the planets that inform Indian astronomy. Jai Singh was an astronomer-king who constructed an observatory – the Jantar Mantar with 19 astronomical instruments placed in an open to sky architectural pattern that at times resembles the placements of buildings in the raça dos Três Poderes in Brasília. Dutra was inspired by the low intensity , human scale architecture Charles Correa proposed through his seven decade long practice.
Dutra whilst researching the interconnections between human initiative in scientific endeavours and our role with nature came across the Champalimaud Centre for the Unknown in Lisboa / Lisbon , Portugal. The centre is a foundation investigating cures to human diseases such as Cancer , blindness and other challenges to human life. Charles Correa was commissioned to design the building to house the centre which he completed in 2010. The centre sits on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean from where Vasco Da Gama sailed to India and in the process changed the destinies of men like Correa as Portugal colonised Goa on the Western Coast of India. Drawing from these histories Correa made a building that held syncretic elements from places where the navigators of Portugal had found themselves across the waters. He was inspired by water, nature and the rainforests as existing sources of healing and forms of architecture. Dutra realised that architects such as Le Corbuisier , Louis Kahn, Oscar Neimeyer , Lucio Costa and Charles Correa were inspired by the 17th century imperial Katsura Villa in Kyoto Japan.
The Katsura Villa is a home on stilts , minimalist and functional – drawing its visual cues from Zen Buddhism. Le Corbusier in 1923 published his thoughts for a new paradigm shift in the way we imagined modernist architecture – ‘ Towards an Architecture’. The plan for the reconstruction of Tokyo after the earthquake of 1923 was inspired by this book and this began a many decade long conversation between the architect and Japan. In 1948 he came up with his ‘Open Hand / Le Main Ouverte’. a sculpture that denoted an open hand that offered peace and an architectural philosophy of give and take. India had just been partitioned , Punjab needed a new capital and Corbuiser met Jawaharlal Nehru – the Architect of Modern India as its First Prime Minister . Nehru readily agreed to Corbuiser’s proposal for Chandigarh. Corbusier modelled the city on his open palm concept , simultaneously in Brasilia – Lucio Costa was designing his city on the basis of an open bird that had stretched out its wings to fly. Dutra connects these deep philosophical connections to architecture in his paintings at times using red denoting earth and the colour of animist ritual or he draws his circles in indigo blues – the prized colour of us – the darker nations.
Architecture as a term can be used to describe social architectures such as social media networks , architecture can be used to explain financial algorithms and architecture can define a republic. Dr BR Ambedkar is seen as the architect of India’s Constitution, an instrument of fraternity , freedom and most importantly equality. For Samit Das architecture has social and cultural definitions that he understood during his times as a student at the art school Kala Bhavana – Viswabharati , Tagore’s university of alternative learning that he established in 1919. Rabindranath Tagore was very aware of the role of architecture as a catalyst of communal living and for students to embrace music , theatre and literature as a part of a visual art education. A Bauhausian model of architecture and placement of buildings was used to create the commune , though it was a philosophy that resonated in the school’s philosophy of using arts & crafts as a source of rejuvenation both aesthetically and spiritually after the cultural and societal violence had been inflicted upon Indian society through colonisation. Tagore also sought inspirations from Japan and the Japanese art critic Okakura Tenshin sent him artists from Japan to revive Indian traditions of painting through Japanese gouache techniques. Soon wall paintings from the caves of Ajanta, Indian miniature painting and tribal iconography along with Japanese wash and tempera began to define Modern Indian painting that looked towards ‘Another Asia’. 
Paintings made at Santiniketan were displayed in an earthen conical structure that drew its form from a mud-hut , it was open to the sky and was situated in an open ground. This exhibition house was called a ‘Chaitya’ – a Chaitya Griha is a prayer or meditation hall popularised by Buddhists who built them by tunnelling caves that ended in a semi-circle. The design was innovated to hold acoustics to allow dialogue and contemplation . Samit Das was deeply inspired by the accessibility of this structure , its humility in form and the historical reference to an India that sought cohesion and intellectual awakening through spirituality. Within Indic languages the word for architecture is ‘ Shilpa-Shastra’ which could be translated as ‘ knowledge of sculpture’ and the laws of architecture are termed as ‘Vaastu Shastra’ – or the ‘ knowledge of dwelling’. Dutra realised that Charles Correa had used the laws of Vaastu Shastra in designing the Champalimaud Centre. These laws take into account nature and its five elements – earth, water, fire, air, and space.
Samit Das practices out of a studio on the borders of Delhi, where aspirational values and lack of space have forced favela-like construction using concrete , glass and metal sheets. They hold an aesthetic beauty and are interpretations of aesthetics as seen and then authored by their builders who form part of a subaltern polity. We see across India as we see economic development a certain architectural layering – balconies on art deco homes on Bombay’s sea face are covered with ornate glass and grills to make more space, old homes are extended with jarring and opposing architectural styles, Soviet-style concrete government buildings upgrade their aesthetics by retrofitting glass facades that turn them into ovens of trapped heat and ancient stone temples being covered in cheap ceramic tiles. Das’s paintings consist of a mix media of photography, photo-copied prints, watercolours and painting forming his commentaries on the archaeology of architecture. He uses the layering of architecture and subsequently acts like an architect who deconstructs them by taking them apart to make elements for his paintings.
Dutra on the other hand creates a new visual language that arises from his deconstructions and imaginations around modernist architecture of the 20th century. Looking at his inspirations he sources a new script of forms . Ruben Valentim (1922 – 1991) an artist from São Salvador da Bahia where the traditions of Africa are alive among the descendants of slaves brought to work as plantation labour , sought his motifs from nature. Valentim as an Afro-Brazilian held the visual and spiritual inheritances of both his Amerindian and Black traditions. His patterned paintings have resonance with the many geometrical motifs that come from West Africa , but they also hold resonance with the Amerindian pottery traditions of Northern Brazil. When he visited Senegal for the first Global Festival of Black Arts in Dakar in 1966 which was the precursor of the Biennale of Dakar , he was able to inspire Senegalese artists to see inspirations in the traditions of animism and the symbols of nature and reject the visual culture of Negritude. Samit Das and Dutra are artists who by making connections to each other on their own volition as artists and not through any curatorial intervention or institutional action celebrate a similar dialogue that is deep and not an answer to a call for a proposal.
A chance meeting in 2022 and through the support of Karla Osorio they were able to realise the exhibition which is situated in an erstwhile residential palace of a native king and is situated in an architectural homogeneity of aesthetics conceived by India’s departing colonials who had envisioned building a new capital New Delhi. Often chastised using the name of its architect as ‘Lutyens Delhi’ the city is an interesting host to this exhibition. Das and Dutra come from two different generations but their enquiries in art hold parallels. The greatest builder in concrete is the Japanese architect Tadao Anto who has been a great influence on Das as he likes his use of the void, the empty space and inspirations in form Ando draws from the culture and people who are to inhabit his spaces. We live in a world overshadowed by a war , we are deglobalizing and forgetting our commitments to humanity and universalism. But here we have artists looking beyond their cultural proximities or towards the centres of global power.
Brazil and India mirror each other in economies, placement in Colonial Histories , size and diversity. Though we do not see immediate cultural linkages we forget we mirror each other politically and as a society in great transition. Sugar sent from India to Brazil denudes the soils of my home state Maharashtra as it brings down the rainforests in Brazil. Gene-pools of Indian cattle are better preserved in Brazil and we both endeavour to tame nature through interventions on Mother Earth. When I last visited Brazil the syncretism allowed me to feel part of the people and the architecture drew me in. I saw great resonance with colonial buildings in Mumbai/Bombay and Cochin , where I had spent my childhood years. Upon researching the reason I learnt that the Portuguese had transported Goan masons and architects to Brazil to help build the edifices of their empire. Goa’s red laterite soil and Brazil’s ‘terra sol’ held similar properties apart from the colour when it came to building bricks and constructing structures. We received the potato , onion, tomato , tapioca and chilly by way of Brazil – elements that define our cuisine today. The intrigue of
artists make a better conversation encompassing many histories, some are unsaid but very symbolically present in their works thus creating an architecture of silence.
1. Another Asia: Rabindranath Tagore and Okakura Tenshin Book by Rustom Bharucha
Sumesh M Sharma, artist, writer and curator.
Founder the Clark House Initiative.
About the Artists
Rodrigo Garcia Dutra (Rio de Janeiro, Brasil – 1981)
Born in 1981, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He holds a Master’s Fine Arts from Central Saint Martin of Art and Design, London, UK (2009) with a Lismore Castle Scholarship and a Master’s in Sculpture from the Royal College of Arts, London, UK (2014). Received an award from Fundação Bienal de São Paulo, SP, Brazil Contemporary Art Program and participated in the following exhibitions: “Tomorrow: London”, at the South London Gallery, London, UK, “Mestizo Stories” at Instituto Tomie Ohtake, São Paulo, SP , 18th Contemporary Art Festival Sesc_Videobrasil: 30th Anniversary, São Paulo, SP and “Open Cube” at White Cube, London, UK. It has works acquired by the public collections of the British Government Art Collection, Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand – MASP, Museu de Arte do Rio – MAR, Museu Nacional da República, Brasília and Casa da Cultura da América Latina da Universidade de Brasília – CAL /UNB and Andrea and José Olympio Pereira Collection..He was artist-in-residence at the spaces Red Bull House of Art, São Paulo, SP, 2009 and Phosphorus, São Paulo, SP, 2015. He participated in the programs Pivô Pesquisa, São Paulo, SP, 2014, Capacete Universidade de Verão, Rio de Janeiro, RJ , 2012, Flusserian Fridays, Vilém Flusser Archive, Berlin, Germany, 2011, Capacete Máquina de Responder/29th Bienal de São Paulo, SP, 2010 and Art + Architecture with Lucia Koch at the Oswald de Andrade Cultural Center, São Paulo, SP, 2010 .It was nominated for three consecutive years for the PIPA award (2015, 2016 and 2017). In 2020, he participated in exhibitions even online and with social distance: Un cuore due capanne. Madragoa Gallery. Lisbon, Portugal and Four Flags. Zé dos Bois Gallery. Lisbon, Portugal. In 2021 from Drawing Tube, Japan and Supersonic, Portugal. He was an artist supported by the Ybytu Residence, São Paulo during the Pandemic. His artistic research practice dates back to moments in time that influenced the aesthetics of the world as we perceive it today. By building a collection of facts, found objects, gifts and places he has traveled, the artist re-works these elements through drawing, painting, bronze casting, charcoal tracing, video editing and arranging/re-arranging them in space. in order to put these moments or situations in evidence, shedding a new light on them.
Samit Das (Jamshedpur, India – 1970)
Lives and works in New Delhi, India. Das is deeply fascinated with documentation and the archive. Das’ love for the archive and his Santiniketan roots culminated in a documentation project at the Tagore Museum in Kolkata between 1999 and 2001. Das went on to work on another project in the form of an exhibition titled The Idea of Space and Rabindranath Tagore that was exhibited in various spaces including the Lalit Kala Academy (New Delhi), India International Centre (New Delhi), Victoria Memorial Hall (Kolkata) and Freies Museum (Berlin). Das has exhibited extensively in India and abroad while also participating in projects such as the art installation project at the international airport in Mumbai which was curated by Rajiv Sethi. Das’s solo shows include Santiniketan and Tagore a site-specific project at an old photographic studio at Kolkata(2018); Punashcha Parry at Villa Vassilieff Paris, as part of Pernod Ricard Fellowship (2017); Bibliography in Progress at TARQ and Clark House Initiative, Mumbai (2017); Apologue and Archaeology at Gallery Espace, New Delhi (2017). The artist has also participated in group shows like Hotel New Bengal at Nature Morte, New Delhi (2008); Bombay to Mumbai, at Kala Ghoda Arts Festival, Mumbai (2005-2006); Craft and Identity at Ramchandraji Temple, Jaipur (2005); Great Arc at Atlantis Gallery, London (2004); There is No Spoon at India Habitat Center New Delhi (2001).
This show is supported by UPL
ABOUT THE GALLERY
Created in 2015, the Karla Osorio gallery is the only one in Brasília with an international presence, participating in art fairs in several countries. Its director, whose name is the gallery one, has extensive experience in contemporary art. In 2000, she created ECCO – Contemporary Cultural Space, which for 15 years was the main private non-profit institution dedicated to contemporary art in Brasilia – more than 250 artists in individual and group shows with educational projects, about 100 publications. Among the artists on display are AES+F, Artur Barrio, Bené Fonteles, Cildo Meirelles, Hélio Oiticica, Mario Cravo Neto, Miguel Rio Branco, Nelson Leirner, Rosângela Rennó, Sebastião Salgado, Vik Muniz, Wang Qing Song etc. The gallery represents Brazilian and foreign artists, at the beginning or middle career and it also operates in the secondary market. It favors innovative artistic production and encourages diverse languages and techniques. His program has an important focus on geometry, minimalism and visual poetry, in addition to abstractionism in painting above all. It is also concerned with supporting artists who deal with gender issues and approach socio-political issues with depth, deepening questions about their own time. Develops a project to encourage new collectors and to include artists on the national and international scene. It is located in a very unique site, having 5 pavillions with 6 galleries and an artist residence program connected with a large garden in which are displayed open air sculptures. It keeps a schedule of temporary exhibitions, launching publications with bilingual curatorial texts. It also offers courses, workshops and interventions in the public space, often in partnership with other institutions.
Karla Osorio | Diretora Director
Galeria Karla Osorio
T +55 61 3367 6303 #20 T +55 61 3367 6353 #31 Cel +55 61 98114 2100 (whatsapp)
SMDB conjunto 31 lote 1B Lago Sul Brasília – DF
CEP 71.680-310 BRAZIL
www.karlaosorio.com Instagram: galeriakarlaosorio Facebook: Galeria Karla Osorio