June 18, 2020, New York, NY – Pace Gallery is honored to announce that São Paulo-based artist Sonia Gomes has joined its roster of leading international artists. Gomes, originally from the state of Minas Gerais in southeastern Brazil, combines secondhand textiles with everyday materials, such as furniture, driftwood, and wire, to create abstract sculptures that reclaim Afro-Brazilian traditions and feminized crafts from the margins of history. “My work is black, it is feminine, and it is marginal. I am a rebel,” affirms Gomes, adding, “I never worried about masking or stifling anything that might or might not fit standards of what is called art.”
Pace will represent Gomes in the US and Asia and will bring her art to its established audiences in both territories, working in close collaboration with Mendes Wood DM, who has represented her for over a decade, and Blum & Poe.
Gomes first gained international recognition when the late curator Okwui Enwezor included her work in the 2015 Venice Biennale. Largely self-taught, she is now widely celebrated for her work and has become a barrier-breaking figure as the first living Afro-Brazilian woman artist to have a monographic show at the São Paulo Museum of Art (MASP), in 2018. As exemplified by the gallery’s support of Robert Rauschenberg, Sam Gilliam and Lynda Benglis, among others, Pace has been a staunch advocate of artists who devised unique visual languages by going against the grain of dominant artistic styles and ideas. Gomes’s resolve to create highly innovative, mixed-media works in defiance of artistic conventions and social barriers positions her firmly within the gallery’s history, while pointing to the connections and parallels between this legacy and art practices in Brazil.
On September 2, 2020, Pace Gallery will present its debut exhibition with Sonia Gomes at the gallery’s temporary exhibition space in East Hampton. The exhibition will feature recent sculptures by Gomes alongside works by her contemporary Marina Perez Simão, whose work juxtaposes memories and images culled from her experiences in Brazil. The exhibition will be on view through September 20, 2020. Other major upcoming projects include commissioned works for the 2021 Gwangju Biennale and 2021 Liverpool Biennial. In 2022, Gomes will have her first solo exhibition with Pace Gallery at its gallery in New York City.
Marc Glimcher, President & CEO, Pace Gallery, shares:
“We are thrilled that Sonia Gomes will be joining Pace. Adam Sheffer, our Vice President, is working closely with our colleagues at Mendes Wood DM to create an exhibition plan to bring Sonia’s unique work to our audiences around the world. The talismanic power of her construction, collages and sculpture derives from Sonia’s graceful melding of her rich Afro-Brazilian histories and traditions with potentialities of modern sculpture. It is a profound honor to welcome her to the gallery. It is also a great pleasure to be collaborating with our friends Pedro, Matthew and Felipe who have been working with Sonia for many years and will continue to head up the effort, as well as joining Blum & Poe to expand the appreciation of Sonia’s work in the US and Asia.”
Adam Sheffer, Vice President, Pace Gallery comments:
“Sonia Gomes has a unique ability to turn a variety of materials into an indivisible, poetic whole that transcends its parts. Her masterful process of integration is not only formal but also intellectual. Gomes’s work has the rare capacity to synthesize and distill her wide-ranging interests in literature, philosophy, and history, as seen, for instance, with her recent sculptures whose incorporation of bird cages alludes to the poetry of Maya Angelou in a profound and urgent meditation on freedom.”
Juxtaposing tensile and slack forms, Gomes’s contorted sculptures exude a corporeality and dynamism that she attributes to her love of popular Brazilian dances. At the same time, her work’s vitality evokes the enigmatic animism of sacred objects used in the spiritual practices of Brazil’s African diaspora—rites that the artist witnessed her grandmother, a shaman, perform during her childhood. Born in the Brazilian city of Caetanópolis, a once-important manufacturing center for textiles, Gomes uses found or gifted fabrics, which, according to her, “bring the history of the people that they belonged to.” “I give a new significance to them,” she adds. Her assemblages thus tie Brazil’s historical trajectory to the long-disregarded narratives of women, people of color, and countless anonymous individuals.
Through its recycling of used fabric, Gomes’s work also evinces a principle of thrift that is both a consequence of Brazil’s rapid and uneven industrial development and a dissenting answer to its accompanying culture of wasteful consumption and environmental destruction. As a whole, her art is marked by a decolonizing impulse, providing oblique responses to the social inequities and ecological urgencies of present-day Brazil and, more broadly, a globalized world.
Her solo exhibitions include I Rise–I’m a Black Ocean, Leaping and Wide, Museum Frieder Burda and Salon Berlin, Baden-Baden/Berlin (2019); Silence of color, Mendes Wood DM, Brussels (2019); Still I Rise, MASP & Casa de Vidro, São Paulo (2018); and A vida renasce, sempre, Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Niterói, Rio de Janeiro (2018).
Gomes’s work has been presented in the following group shows: Histórias Afro-Atlânticas, MASP, São Paulo (2018); O Triângulo Atlântico, 11ª Bienal de Artes Visuais do Mercosul, Porto Alegre
(2018); Entangled, Turner Contemporary, Margate (2017); Everyday Poetics, Seattle Art Museum (2017); Revival, The National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C. (2017); Revolution in the Making: Abstract Sculpture by Women, 1947-2016, Hauser Wirth & Schimmel, Los Angeles (2016); All the World’s Futures, 56ª Biennale di Venezia, Venice (2015); No Man’s Land: Women Artists from The Rubell Family Collection, Rubell Family Collection, Miami (2015); A Nova Mão Afro-Brasileira, Museu Afro Brasil, São Paulo (2013); among others.
Works by Gomes are included in numerous private and public collections, including those of the Museum of Afro Brazil, São Paulo; Museum of Art of Rio de Janeiro; Museum of Latin American Art of Buenos Aires (MALBA); Muzeum Susch, Zernez; Rubell Family Collection; San Antonio Museum of Art; São Paulo Museum of Art (MASP); and Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.
Gomes was awarded Brazil’s prestigious Pipa Prize in 2016 and is one of few Afro-Brazilian women to have been granted a solo exhibition at the Niterói Contemporary Art Museum in Rio de Janeiro.