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  • Provenance

    Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner

  • Catalogue Essay

    I try to turn art into a thought, and then express it with dedication and sincerity. Something that characterizes my work is freedom of thought. It is not about style or support. It is about language, about strengthening the body with feelings and energy.
    Antonio Manuel, 1999

    Antonio Manuel was born in Portugal 1947, moving as a child to Rio de Janeiro in the 1950s. He emerged as an artist on the Brazilian scene in 1965 at the National Teenager’s Salon, receiving an acquisition prize the following year at the XXIII Paranaense Fine Arts Salon. By 1967 he had his first solo exhibition at the Goeldi Gallery in Rio de Janeiro, participating that same year in the IX São Paulo Biennial. Such a meteoric rise however is often overshadowed within art historical narratives by the fact that Hélio Oiticica, having seen Antonio Manuel drawing one afternoon at the Museum of Modern Art in Rio de Janeiro, invited him on the spot to show his work within the original Tropicalia environment during the Nova Objetividade Brasileira exhibition in 1967. Today considered amongst most important exhibitions of the 1960s in Brazil, Oiticica had assumed the role of leading organizer and author of the catalogue essay describing the relation that Brazilian art held at that moment with the socio-political mood of the nation and its complex relation to international movements in art. Antonio Manuel’s participation led to a life-long friendship and several subsequent collaborations with Oiticica.

    Until then Antonio Manuel’s work had primarily used newspaper as support, over which he would draw an array of crude human figures arranged over the sheet with no concern for perspective or scale. However, with the increasingly repressive measures set in place by the military regime that took power in a coup d’état in 1964, we find Antonio Manuel engaging ever more explicitly with the actual content of the printed matter on the page, leading some critics to describe his work of the period as an example of Political Pop. Without a doubt there was an evident engagement with the mass reproduced image as well as with the actual mechanical processes of newspaper production. However, rather than themes such as consumerism and popular culture, it was the world of politics and the immediate circumstances facing Brazilian society that attracted the artist. Such a shift in aesthetics and creative processes brought with it some unwanted attention. According to French critic Pierre Restany, in December 1968 a large silkscreen depicting clashes between the police and students was seized during the II Bahia Biennial and subsequently burnt. The following year a preview was organized at Rio de Janeiro’s Museum of Modern Art to showcase the Brazilian representation at the forthcoming IV Paris Biennale. Antonio Manuel presented for the occasion a series of works entitled Repressão Outra Vez – Eis o Saldo (Repression Again – Here is the Outcome). However, before the exhibition was open to the public, military police closed the Museum. A few days later the artist was summoned to a meeting with the museum director Niomar Muniz Sodré who told him how having been warned of the imminent closure of the Museum she ordered her staff to remove all works that may be deemed “offensive”. Sodré then informed the artist that his works where hidden behind the sofa he was sitting on.

    Antonio Manuel took the works and hid them in the basement of a friend’s house. He then began to correspond with Hélio Oiticica, who was in London preparing his Whitechapel Gallery exhibition, on how to avoid the military censorship and assure his participation at the Paris Biennial. Oiticica proposed several alternatives, but in the end no solution was found and the episode ultimately led to the international boycott of the 1969 São Paulo Biennial. Untitled (Protest), the work presented here, is a surviving fragment of that series that remained hidden in the basement for many years until it became clear that it was safe to retrieve them.

BRAZIL

6

Untitled (Protest)

1968
silkscreen inks on board
14 3/4 x 21 7/8 in. (37.4 x 55.8 cm.)
Signed "Antonio Manuel 1968" lower right. Further signed and dated "Antonio Manuel 68" on the reverse.

Estimate
$80,000 - 120,000 

Sold for $100,000

Contact Specialist
Laura González
Head of Latin America Sale
[email protected]
+ 1 212 940 1216

Latin America

New York 21 November 2013 4pm