ECU billionaire [Dark Billionaire], 2018, extract from “Pardo é Papel: The Glorious Victory”, 2017 –. Latex, grease, henna, bitumen, dye, acrylic, vinyl, graphite, ballpoint pen, charcoal, grease stick and chocolate powder wrapping paper on brown kraft paper. 126 x 187 3/8 inches. Artwork © Maxwell Alexander. Photo: Gabi Carrera. Courtesy of Instituto Inclusartiz and Museu de Arte do Rio – MAR.
Features new works commissioned by The Shed
brazilian artist Alexander Maxwell will have its first North American solo exhibition, Pardo é Papel: The Glorious Victory and New Power, at The Shed from October 26, 2022 to January 8, 2023, offering a quick introduction to the artist’s work on identity, representation and black empowerment. Organized by Alessandra Gomezassociate curator this exhibition presents the monumental works of Alexandre on brown kraft paper from his ongoing series “Pardo é Papel” (2017 – ) which depict collective portraits celebrating the resilience, self-esteem and prosperity of black people.
Alexandre places “The Glorious Victory” (2017–) and “New Power” (2019–) as sub-series within “Pardo é Papel” and describes each as albums, linking them to his influences from hip hop culture and rap music. The Shed exhibition features works from his debut album, “The Glorious Victory,” inspired by black musicians from Brazil, and recently commissioned paintings from “New Power,” which focus black art-viewing audiences in galleries for draw attention to power dynamics in white, western contemporary art spaces.
Throughout the “Pardo é Papel” series, Alexandre paints black subjects on brown kraft paper, commonly called pardo in his native Portuguese. The title of the series roughly translates to “brown is paper”, although this formulation fails to capture the colonial origins of the term pardo. Many activists involved in black social movements in Brazil maintain that the term pardo has always been used to obscure or hide one’s black identity, as it is an ambiguous racial category developed by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics in the 1950 census, based on physical appearance rather than ancestry. For Alexandre, painting black subjects on pardo paper is a thought-provoking political and conceptual statement: “I created this series to talk about self-esteem and black pride because the term pardo has always been used to money laundering in Brazil,” said Alexandre. .
“By adapting kraft paper as the conceptual and material foundation of his paintings, Alexandre insists on the term pardo as a descriptor of the paper, rather than a masking of black identity within Brazilian society. Alexandre intentionally leaves sections of the kraft paper unpainted to emphasize its conceptual significance, exposing all of its wrinkles, creases and softer textural qualities,” said Alessandra Gómez, Associate Curator at The Shed. “Her exhibition at The Shed traces the evolution of her work over the past five years, most notably through her self-referential ‘New Power’ series which reflects on contemporary art spaces and their power to legitimize historical narratives of art.”
Hanging his paintings in The Shed’s Level 4 gallery, Alexandre constructs walkways and fences using pardo paper, emphasizing its materiality and the artist’s delineation of space. Alexander’s paints also incorporate unconventional materials, such as bitumen, a dense and durable infrastructural mix used for roofing and roads, and everyday cosmetics such as brown liquid shoe polish and hair relaxer. henna hair. Drawn from his memories of living in one of Brazil’s largest favelas, Rocinha, Alexander’s paintings feature striking figurative scenes of communal recreation interspersed with recurring religious, art historical, and pop cultural symbols. These appear alongside well-known black cultural icons, such as Beyoncé, Nina Simone and Elza Soares, and commercial products from her childhood, such as the popular Capri blue plastic pools, Danone yogurt and Toddynho chocolate drink. . As part of his painting process, Alexandre translates rap lyrics, sometimes abstractly, sometimes figuratively, into his paintings. Many of his tracks from “The Glorious Victory” refer to specific songs by Brazilian rappers BK’, Dhonga and Baco Exu do Blues, which influenced his work.
“We are thrilled to present Maxwell Alexandre’s first North American solo exhibition, Pardo é Papel: The Glorious Victory and New Power. Alexandre is an extraordinary artist with a very compelling practice born out of a multidisciplinary background,” said Alex Pootsartistic director and CEO of The Shed.
The Shed’s multidisciplinary commissioned program is designed by Artistic Director and CEO Alex Poots with the program’s core team, including Andria Hickey, Chief Curator; Tamara McCaw, Chief Civic Program Officer; Madani Younis, Chief Executive Producer; and Hans Ulrich Obrist, Senior Program Advisor.
As part of the exhibition, there will be a fully illustrated publication designed by Normal Studio (Chicago, IL), featuring new essays by exhibition curator Alessandra Gómez and researcher Tina M. Campt, a interview with Hans Ulrich Obrist, and writing by Alexandre. Co-published by The Shed and Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther und Franz König, the book will be available for purchase from international distributors, and available for purchase at The Shed and TheShed.org/Publications.
Tickets for Pardo é Papel: The Glorious Victory and New Power will be available at theshed.org or at (646) 455-3494. The exhibition is visible from Thursday to Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Additional information about The Shed’s health and safety policies and planning a visit can be found at Theshed.org/visit
About the artist
Alexander Maxwell was born in 1990 in Rio de Janeiro. Raised in an evangelical home, the entertainer served in the military and was a professional inline skater for 12 years. He obtained a degree in design from PUC-RJ (Pontifícia Universidade Católica de Rio de Janeiro) in 2016. In 2018 he received an award from the Archdiocese of Rio de Janeiro and was awarded the Culture Prize of São Sebastiao. Alexandre was voted Artist of the Year by Deutsche Bank as part of its “Artist of the Year” series and is one of 35 artists from around the world on Artsy’s Vanguard list. His work is in the collections of various prestigious institutions, including the Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo, the Museu de Arte de São Paulo, the Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro, the Museu de Arte do Rio, the Art Museum Contemporary Lyon, Perez Art Museum Miami and Guggenheim Abu Dhabi. Alexandre considers his works as prayers and his workshop as a temple.
About the curator
Alessandra Gomez is a writer and curator specializing in modern and contemporary art and performance. She is currently Associate Curator at The Shed, where she curates Maxwell Alexandre’s first North American solo exhibition, Pardo é Papel: The Glorious Victory and New Power (2022). She previously hosted HEADLESS: The Demonstration (2022), three nights of fashion, music and performance by Anonymous Club, the creative studio run by Shayne Oliver. She was assistant curator on Tomás Saraceno: Particular Matter(s) (2022), Ian Cheng: Life After BOB (2021), Open Call (2021) and curatorial assistant on Manual Override (2019) and Open Call (2019). His independent curatorial projects include As If You Me (2017) and Ember Ground (2018) at the Center for Performance Research, Material Witness Material Witness (2018) at the Knockdown Center and Public Setting (2017) as part of the Queens Museum’s partnership with Bulova. Center. She received her master’s degree from Columbia University’s Critical Studies and Critical Studies in Modern and Contemporary Art program and was a Curatorial Fellow at Columbia’s Wallach Art Gallery. She curated and designed the gallery’s first performance program, Into Darkness (2019), with commissions from artists Trajal Harrell, Dean Moss and Eiko Otake & DonChristian Jones. She was part of the editorial collective of Women & Performance: a journal of feminist theory and previously held curatorial positions at Ambient Church, The Kitchen and Queens Museum.
The creation of new work at The Shed is generously supported by the Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch Commissioning Fund and the Shed Commissioners.
Pardo é Papel: The Glorious Victory and New Power is supported in part by Elaine Goldman and John Benis.
About the shed
The Shed is a new cultural institution of and for the 21st century. We produce and welcome innovative works of art and ideas, through all forms of creativity, to build a common understanding of our rapidly changing world and a more equitable society. In our highly adaptable building on the west side of Manhattan, The Shed brings together established and emerging artists to create new works in areas ranging from pop to classical music, painting to digital media, theater to literature and from sculpture to dance. We seek opportunities to collaborate with cultural peers and community organizations, work with like-minded partners, and provide unique spaces for private events. As an independent nonprofit that values invention, fairness, and generosity, we are committed to advancing art forms, solving pressing issues of our time, and making our work impactful, sustainable and relevant to the local community, the cultural sector, New York City, and beyond.