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Tropicí¡lia Brings to London Brazil’s Multisensory Garden of Eden

Tropicália: A Revolution in Brazilian Culture is a groundbreaking and vibrant exhibition which captures the spirit of Tropicália, one of the most significant cultural movements from South America in the last five decades.

The Tropicália exhibition in the Barbican Art Gallery, in London, is the first event in a three-month long festival which encompasses art, music, theatre and education and opens on the 16 February running until 21 May 2006. 

Tropicália marked a true revolution in Brazilian music, visual arts, theatre, cinema, fashion and architecture. Taking its name from an installation created in 1967 by the young Brazilian artist, Hélio Oiticica, it soon became the title of one of the most celebrated albums in Brazilian music history, featuring Caetano Veloso, Gilberto Gil and Os Mutantes.

Tropicália was born out of a powerful desire to find a new identity for Brazilian art, one in which Brazil’s multiculturalism and popular forms, of music and dance especially, were celebrated and synthesised with international modernism. 

Tropicália is the first exhibition to chart this explosion of creative energy as a cohesive cultural moment. Its starting point is the 1967 exhibition New Brazilian Objectivity, held at the Museum of Modern Art in Rio de Janeiro, in which Oiticica’s Tropicália was the centrepiece.

At the same time as Oiticica was exhibiting Tropicália, dancing samba and being inspired by the favelas, musicians like Veloso, Gilberto Gil and Os Mutantes were flouting convention to sing passionately rebellious lyrics to electric guitars in front of rapturous audiences. 

Tropicália thrived on ideas, dialogue and the energy of the streets. It was enormously influential across South America and is the forerunner of much contemporary work which privileges the viewer and invites participation; so-called ‘relational aesthetics’.

The significance and meaning of Tropicália is still the subject of lively debate. As a reflection of this, Tropicália includes a number of commissions by contemporary artists.

Each work provides a uniquely personal reflection on the spirit of tropicalismo. The contemporary artists include Marepe, Ernesto Neto, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Moreno Veloso and Assume Vivid Astro Focus.

Visitors to the gallery will be able to experience the unrestrained, anarchic philosophy behind Oiticica’s vision in the reconstruction of his two most important installations.

Tropicália, a walk-in environment, plays on the clichés of Brazilian tropicalism with plants, parrots, sand and pebbles, while Eden features a garden of straw ‘nests’ and muslin tents.

Visitors are invited to lie back and relax to the sounds of Gilberto Gil, take off their shoes and paddle, confuse their taste buds with Lygia Pape’s luminous water and try on Lygia Clark’s disorientating masks.

This multi-sensory adventure in a mythical garden of earthly delights is designed to catapult participants back into the vibe of 1960s Brazil. As Oiticica said, ‘Experience the experimental.’

London – Tropicália: A Revolution in Brazilian Culture opens on 16 February – 21 May 2006. Tickets are priced at £8 / £6 and opening hours are 11 am – 8 pm daily (except Tuesday and Thursday when the gallery closes at 6 pm). For further information please visit www.barbican.org.uk or call 0845 1207550. 

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