Cildo Meireles Galeria Luisa Strina
Cildo MeirelesGaleria Luisa Strina
Detail of Glovetrotter, 1991. Ph. Edouard Fraipont





(Rio de Janeiro, 1948)


“My work aspires to a condition of density, great simplicity, directness, openness of language and interaction.”



Cildo Meireles began his practice in 1963, at the Cultural Foundation of the Federal District, in Brasília, where he took classes with the Peruvian painter and ceramist Barrenechea. In 1967 he moved back to Rio de Janeiro and enrolled as a student at the Escola Nacional de Belas-Artes; however, he did not continue his studies, remaining at the institution for only two months.


His first installation also dates from 1967, Desvio para o Vermelho [Red Shift], presented at the Museum of Modern Art in Rio de Janeiro. The following year, he began working on the series Espaços virtuais: cantos [Virtual spaces: corners], exploring the question of time and euclidean space. He produced two more works on this theme, Virtual Volumes and Occupations (both from 1968-69). In 1969, together with Frederico Morais and Guilherme Vaz, he founded the Experimental Unit of Museum of Modern Art/Rio de Janeiro.



Installation view of Red Shift at Instituto Inhotim, Brumadinho. Ph. Pedro Motta
Images of Tiradentes: Totem-monumento ao preso político, 1970



Establishing himself as an artist in 1968, the same year the AI-5 (censorship decree issued by the military dictatorship) was promulgated, it is precisely because of his political reflections that he asserts himself as one of the most important names in Brazilian conceptual art. In 1970, he produced the works Tiradentes: Totem-monumento ao prisioneiro político [Tiradentes: Totem-monument to the political prisoner], Insertions into ideological circuits: Coca-Cola project and Banknote Project: Who killed Herzog?, all with a message of blunt social criticism. Also in 1970, he participated in the exhibitions “Do corpo à Terra”, in the city of Belo Horizonte, and “Information”, at MoMA, in New York, for which he produced his seminal series Insertions into ideological circuits (1970).



Insertions into Ideological Circuits: Coca-Cola project. Ph. Pat Kilgore
Image of Insertions into Ideological Circuits 2: Banknote project - Who killed Herzog?, 1976. Ph. Wilton Montenegro




“Cildo Meireles is seen as one of the key instigators of Conceptual art, now that Conceptualism has been acknowledged to have had points of origin all over the globe. But the label is inadequate to describe the combination of abstract thought and direct physical experience in his extraordinarily diverse body of works. A deep interest in the relationship between the sensorial and the cerebral, the body and the mind, is now seen as one of the defining characteristics of the post-war Brazilian avant-garde, out of which Meireles emerged with his early works at the end of the 1960s.

‘In Brazilian conceptual art, so linked to sensuality, the limits of the body and pleasure’, he puts it, ‘it is impossible not to think of seduction; there are also, however, political aspects which are rare in art from other parts of the world’ [Herkenhoff, 1999]. He has remained loyal to these origins, and to a political/ethical viewpoint formed outside the ‘cultures of plenty’.”

- Guy Brett, Cildo Meireles, Tate Publishing, 2008




Images of works from Virtual Volumes series, 1968-1969.
A Penteadeira, 1967. Ph. Edouard Fraipont



“Although conception without perception

is merely empty, perception without conception is blind (totally inoperative).”

- Nelson Goodman



Cildo Meireles is best known for his large-scale, theatrical installations; at once seductively beautiful and foreboding, they are environments in which viewers can observe and act. In these works, the artist examines issues of perception, a concept with both rational and non-rational implications. As an academic discipline, perception encompasses psychology, philosophy, neuroscience and biology, fields associated with logic and reason. The word also connotes intuitive understanding of moral, psychological or aesthetic qualities, apprehensions informed by the senses that are usually more emotional than intellectual.

- extract from Worldmaking by Lynn Zelevansky, 2008




Between 1971 and 1973, he lived in New York City. During this period, he worked on the installation Eureka/Blindhotland, on the LP Sal sem carne and on the series Insertions into ideological circuits. Back in Brazil, in 1973, he began to work with costumes for theatre and cinema. In 1975, he became director of the arts magazine Malasartes. From the second half of the 1970s onwards, his works seek to explore the audience's sensorial capacity with greater intensity.



Installation view of Missão/Missões (How to build cathedrals) at SESC Pompeia, São Paulo. Ph. Edouard Fraipont
Installation view of Eureka/BLINDHOTLAND, 1970-1975, at SESC Pompeia, São Paulo. Ph. Edouard Fraipont
Installation view and details of Fontes, 2008, at TATE Modern, London. Ph. Tate Photography



In 2013-2014 a retrospective was organized and presented in museums: Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, Spain; Serralves Foundation Contemporary Art Museum, Porto, Portugal and HangarBicocca, Milan, Italy. In 2009, Tate Modern presented a retrospective exhibition of his work.


In 2019, Sesc Pompeia (São Paulo, Brazil) dedicated its largest retrospective in Latin America to the artist. Meireles' work has been exhibited all over the world, including the 37th, 50th, 51st and 53rd Venice Biennale; the 16th, 20th, 24th and 29th São Paulo Biennials; the 6th and 8th Istanbul Biennials; the 1st and 6th Mercosul Biennials; the Lofoten International Art Festival, Norway; the 2004 Liverpool Biennale and the Kassel Documenta in 1992 and 2002.







Credits: © Cildo Meireles/Tate

Courtesy of the artist and Galeria Luisa Strina

Based on text by Jacopo Crivelli






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