Ernesto Neto

Infinite Garden. From Giverny to Amazonia (group show)
Centre Pompidou-Metz, Metz
18 March - 28 August 2017

Ernesto Neto, Flower Crystal Power, 2014. Photograph: Tony Prikryl, Courtesy: The artist & Tanya Bonakdar Gallery
Ernesto Neto, Flower Crystal Power, 2014. Photograph: Tony Prikryl, Courtesy: The artist & Tanya Bonakdar Gallery

It was believed that gardens had been buried by modernity under the triumph of green spaces limiting the organic to functional areas. Yet, they remain a source of fertile inspiration all along the 20th century and continue to deeply appeal to many artists. The garden captivates, not only for its nourishing, curative and ornamental virtues but also for its subversion. Beyond the enclosed and organised space, the garden of this exhibition is a harbour for blurred, licentious and undisciplined private passions. A place of resistance and dissidence, of the most exquisite refinement as of the most wild exuberance, it becomes a biological, ethical and political laboratory. Backward intellectual currents such as Mannerism, the Decadent movement or Surrealism invade this space, opened to the incongruous and the irregular. Mostly contemporary, the works gather together for this exhibition draw the outlines of an obscure, chaotic and unpredictable experimental garden.

This exhibition of the Centre Pompidou-Metz depicts nature in the perspective of a metaphorical spring. Germination, blossoming and degeneration suggest the cycles of Earth, where the winter stop is the promise for future revolutions. Many artists venerate this vital momentum. Around 1912, in his essay about Creation in the Plastic Arts, František Kupka who is fascinated by the sexual reproduction of flowers, worships “a real pollen festival in the gynoecium bathed in sunlight” and translates theses celebrations in the organic impulse of Cosmic Spring (1913-14). Fertile ground of forms, the garden inspires artists with morphologies and fantastic metamorphoses revealing the intelligence of a nonhuman world. The explorations of the Earth lead to the ends of the known nature towards unspoiled territories that become new reserves of forms and motifs. Thus, fantasising the exotic nature, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster creates a tropical diorama, a proliferating garden-library in line with a series of installations inspired from illusionist’s devices of the 19th century. The Brazilian Ernesto Neto takes the Forum of the Centre Pompidou-Metz with a monumental sculpture, Leviathan-Main-Toth (2005), whose membranes take the shape of a biological landscape on a building scale.

Centre Pompidou-Metz


Ernesto Neto

GaiaMotherTree (monumental installation)
Fondation Beyeler in the Zurich Main station, Zurich
30 June - 27 July 2018

The monumental installation GaiaMotherTree by the Brazilian artist Ernesto Neto (b. 1964) is a spectacular public art project presented by the Fondation Beyeler in Zurich Main station. The walk-in sculpture, made of brightly colored hand-knotted cotton strips, has an organic, treelike appearance. It functions as a meeting place and a venue for interaction and meditation, and is accompanied by a varied programme of public events.

In June and July 2018, the Fondation Beyeler will be showing an installation by the Brazilian artist Ernesto Neto (b. 1964 in Rio de Janeiro) in Zurich Main station. The monumental work GaiaMotherTree, a sculpture made of brightly colored hand-knotted cotton strips, resembles a tall tree, extending right up to the ceiling of the station concourse, which is twenty meters high. It is a walk-in structure that functions as a meeting place and a venue for interaction and meditation. A varied program of events for adults and children, with music, workshops, guided tours and talks, will take place inside the installation.

Ernesto Neto is one of Latin America's most important contemporary artists. His work, comprising sculptures, installations and multimedia projects, has won worldwide recognition, with several presentations at the Venice Biennale and exhibitions in the world's leading museums. It has been collected by, among others, the Museum of Modern Art and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Tate Modern, London; the Centre Pompidou, Paris; and the Hara Museum, Tokyo.

Neto's ideas have been influenced by the Brazilian Neo-Concrete movement of the 1960s and also by Minimal and Conceptual Art, and Arte Povera. Spirituality, humanism, and ecology are among his principal concerns. His work since the 1990s has been characterized by the use of unusual materials and techniques. His sculptures and installations often feature biomorphic forms and organic materials, with transparency and sensuality playing a major role. Viewers can touch the works and walk through them or set them in motion; in many cases, they also appeal to the sense of smell. The visitor is invited to concentrate on his or her own perception and interact with the work and its environment.

In recent years, Neto has turned his attention to a new series of works, which he is realizing in cooperation with the Huni Kuin, an indigenous community living in the Amazon region near the Brazilian border with Peru. The culture and customs of the Huni Kuin, their knowledge and craft skills, their aesthetic sense, their values, their world view, and their spiritual connection with nature, have transformed Neto's conception of art and become integral elements of his artistic practice.

GaiaMotherTree was made entirely by hand. Strips of cotton were colored with natural dyes, and then knotted together with a finger-crocheting technique to form a giant transparent structure. The upper part of the work, shaped like the crown of a tree, will cover the ceiling of the station concourse. At the base of the tree there is a large space where visitors can linger and rest on seats arranged in a circle. Drop-shaped elements hanging from the branches are filled with aromatic spices and dried leaves.

Fondation Beyeler, Riehen