Ernesto Neto

Ernesto Neto, The Garden, 2003. Polyurethane foam. 109 x 281 x 390 inches. Courtesy of Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York.

Created in collaboration with FWM, Ernesto Neto’s The Gate and The Garden were ambitious explorations of material, form, and scale. The monolithic sculptures combine to form an immediate and sensual experience. As with the artist’s previous large-scale installations, which he has described as a “kind of body/space/landscape,” the effect of the work is felt through direct experience, not symbolic representation.

Through large fabric sculptures and participatory environments, Neto’s work often probes the spatial and sensory relations between the viewer’s body and the installation environment. In his own words, his artworks exist as “a place of sensations, a place of exchange and continuity between people, a skin of existence and relationships.” For Neto’s collaboration with FWM, he replaced his earlier works’ transparent “skins” of fabric, which he had stretched, pulled, balanced, and filled with spices and powders. In The Gate and The Garden, the skin became full and fleshlike, made from solid blocks of opaque, polyurethane foam. Neto carefully considered each cut so that the long carving blade would follow the artist’s hand while bending and flexing within the dense foam. Thanks to the play between the artist and his new material, the resulting forms appear less determined, even organic.

This new collaborative work by Neto is a participatory environment that extends his earlier artistic experiments with unconventional materials. Olga Viso—former Executive Director of the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis—describes Neto’s work as that which will “arrest us visually but also make us keenly aware of the spaces inside, around and between our bodies. We become voyagers in sensorial odysseys.”

Artist Bio

Brazilian, born 1964, lives in Rio de Janeiro. 

Ernesto Neto studied at the Rio de Janeiro Escola de Artes Visuais do Parque Lage in 1994 and 1997, and attended the Sao Paulo Museum of Modern Art from 1994 to 1996. In 1990 Neto received the prestigious Prêmio Brasília de Artes Plásticas. He is known for his large-scale installations which aim to engage the senses of visitors, exploring constructions of social space and the natural world. In 2001 Neto represented Brazil at the 49th Venice Biennale, and in 2017 he was prominently featured in Vive Arte Viva at the 57th Venice Biennale curated by Christine Macel. He has had solo exhibitions at the Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas (2012); Faena Arts Center, Buenos Aires (2011); Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre in London (2010); Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art, Oslo (2010), and the Sao Paulo Museum of Modern Art (2010). His works are represented in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Tate Gallery, London; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Centre Pompidou, Paris; and Hara Museum, Tokyo, among others.