Art in the open air

Inhotim

Discover the artworks on display amid Inhotim's lush natural surroundings.

Art in the open air
As anyone who has been to Inhotim knows, much of the visit is spent in the open air. Wandering in and out of galleries, strolling through gardens, discovering a piece of contemporary art among our green spaces—this is all part of the Institute's unique character and beauty. The length of your visit will vary depending on the weather conditions, and your senses will always be invited to experience something different. Each artwork on display outdoors offers up new possibilities for interactions between art, landscaping, architecture, and nature. How do the features of the surroundings modify or enhance the artwork installed within them? How does the light affect the space and your perception? What impact does art in the open air have on your state of mind? These are some of the questions we invite you to explore as you stroll around Inhotim.

This installation was meticulously conceived by the Rio-born artist Hélio Oiticica, one of the members of the important Brazilian Neo-concrete movement. Located beside a lake amid majestic palm trees, the color occupying the space takes on an architectural scale. The title of the piece contains the English word "square," in reference not only to the geometric shape of the piece but also to a public space designed for social interaction. Wouldn't this be an inviting spot to stop and stay a while? A pathway; a break on your journey; a labyrinth? Don't the colorful walls sitting on their pebble floor make this seem like a friendly space?

In 2005, the artists John Ahearn and Rigoberto Torres immersed themselves in Brumadinho (Minas Gerais, Brazil), getting to know the local people, religion, dances, and customs. While they were there, they made plaster models of the faces of local residents, used to create 2 murals outside the Praça gallery. A further cultural reference appears in the background of one of the murals, where the lyrics to the song "Lamentação do Escravo" (The Slave's Lament)—also known as "Abre a Porta" (Open the Door)—are written in the "pichação" style of graffiti from São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.

During the time Ahearn and Torres were in Brumadinho, a representative from the Quilombola community, Senhor Antônio, sang this song for them and they decided to incorporate it into the piece. Can you see a connection between the Quilombola tradition and the graffiti seen everywhere in Brazil's towns and cities?

Imagine a journey-performance where 8 friends set off from Rio de Janeiro to Curitiba (both in Brazil) in 3 colorful Volkswagen Beetles. They connected not only by their route but also by a sound system and their color combinations. This is the story behind the artwork "Troca-Troca" (Exchange-Exchange), where the Rio-born artist Jarbas Lopes reveals the importance of connections and shared experiences. But this was not the only trip the Volkswagen Beetles made. They hit the road again, this time heading for Brumadinho and Inhotim, where they can occasionally be seen driving around the gardens. Where will they be on your next visit?

Dictionary, notebook, swimming pool, or telephone directory? It was by re-imagining everyday objects in unusual combinations that the Argentinian artist Jorge Macchi transformed his 2008 watercolor into a three-dimensional artwork, created especially for Inhotim. Piscina (Swimming Pool) is so inviting—your eyes admire the reflections of nature in the water and your body longs to cool down. To experience this artwork, why not dive into it?

A giant reflector, made up of hundreds of small convex mirrors that reflect and multiply the sky, vegetation, and even the onlooker. On top of the Burle Marx Educational Center, stainless steel spheres float over the mirror created by the water, where a gentle tinkling sound can sometimes be heard.

Narcissus Garden Inhotim comes to life with the shifting wind, sun, and rain, the weather changing its composition every time you look.

There are yet more reflections to be found in this steel and glass structure, located on the shore of one of the Institute's lakes. The mirrors distort reflections, adding new layers of depth that confuse your perception of the surrounding space. This piece by the North American artist Dan Graham integrates architecture and sculpture with the surroundings while encouraging a close connection with the onlooker, whose presence enhances the piece.

A further example of the relationship between sculpture and architecture is this artwork by the Spanish artist Cristina Iglesias. She invites the viewer on a physical and mental journey, starting out down a track through dense woodland to reach a clearing where the piece stands. On this walk, your senses are sharpened as the breeze, birdsong, shade, and changing temperatures accompany you all the way to the Vegetation Room Inhotim.

A mirrored structure, camouflaged in nature, endlessly reflects the surrounding vegetation. Once again, your body is invited to move around the piece as you try to make out where the sound of water inside it is coming from. The path twists and turns, taking you in and out of the vegetation inside and outside of the piece.

In the Pictorial Garden, one of 7 thematic gardens at Inhotim, you may be surprised to come across an upside-down object that is no longer being used for its main purpose. Is this just a tree in its natural environment? The mahogany boat, deconstructed and given a new meaning, stands on its own mast. The British artist Simon Starling invites you to look up, move around, and find new angles from which to view the piece.

This journey through the open-air artworks ends with an intriguing cast bronze sculpture, molded from the trunk of a one-hundred-year-old chestnut tree. The trunk looks so real that, at first glance, you will simply see a tree floating in the landscape. As well as its clear fusion of art and nature, this is a piece that is open to transformation, and one that will inevitably alter over time as the 5 trees supporting it continue to grow.

To be outdoors is to be in dialog with the transformations led by the environment. As you have seen on this tour, a trip around Inhotim can offer you all kinds of experiences. Come and visit us and discover what our gardens and artworks will awaken in you.
Credits: Story

This exhibition was created specifically for Google Arts & Culture in September 2017.
All the artworks described here are on permanent display in the gardens at Inhotim. More information about the images is available by clicking on the titles of the artworks.
See more pieces from the collection and plan your visit at www.inhotim.org.br

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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