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The South London Gallery opens Brazilian artist Luiz Zerbini's first major solo show in the UK
Luiz Zerbini, Serrote, 2013. Acrylic on canvas. Photo: Max Wigram Gallery.

LONDON.- The South London Gallery presents Brazilian artist Luiz Zerbini’s first major solo show in the UK. Large-scale figurative canvases, recent abstract paintings and a new table installation are displayed in the Main Gallery alongside film works and slide collages in the First Floor Galleries. The exhibition explores the evolution of Zerbini’s painting technique and style over the past decade and offers offering an insight into the breadth of media he employs in other aspects of his practice.

Luiz Zerbini (b. 1959, São Paulo, Brazil) is one of South America’s pre-eminent artists, acclaimed for his vividly coloured figurative and abstract paintings. His work was included in the landmark 1984 exhibition Como vai você Geração 80? (How Are You Doing, 80s Generation?) in Rio de Janeiro, which aimed to revolutionise and challenge preconceptions around painting in modern Brazil. His work draws on varied sources including modernist architecture, contemporary culture, elements from the natural environment and cityscapes, particularly Rio de Janeiro where he lives and works. Alongside his own practice Zerbini is a founding member of Chelpa Ferro, a band and artist collective established in the mid-1990s who represented Brazil at the 2005 Venice Biennale and participated in the 25th (2002) and 26th (2004) São Paulo Biennial.

In the Main Gallery, Zerbini’s approach to merging imagery and references to the principal themes he explores in his work is evident in a vibrant display of large-scale figurative canvases and geometric abstract paintings. Concrete Jungle, 2011 depicts natural and man-made forms, from plants, trees and animals to loudspeakers and cables, set against a geometric, richly coloured backdrop while Erosão, 2014 is a painted collage of street signs, pavement tiles and organic and geometric patterns, transporting the viewer to the streets of Rio de Janeiro. Presented alongside these are several smaller abstract works on canvas, each an investigation of geometric form. Juxtapositions of colour, shape and texture act as an informal index to the painting techniques employed by Zerbini in the larger figurative canvases.

In dialogue with these two-dimensional works is a eight-metre long table installation at the centre of the room, a simple oak wooden construction inset with layered glass panels, each painted with an optical wave pattern. At its base, trays of white sand play host to a range of found and fabricated objects used by Zerbini in the studio as subject material. Zerbini exhibits these here alongside the canvas works in which they are portrayed, inverting the logic of their relationship and creating a reverse still life.

Sertão, 2009, one of two film works shown in the First Floor Galleries, features footage of a series of dry landscapes shown only through their reflections in the water expanses in front of them. Zerbini exploits an unexpected digital glitch that occurred during filming to create a visual effect reminiscent of the colourful squares that punctuate and interrupt abstract canvases such as Color Bugs, 2016. Ambient field recordings of conversations, water movement, birdsong and the synthesizer-like sound of cicada insects were captured on camera to form the soundtrack. Shown alongside these are slide collages made up of the artist’s personal and sourced slides to explore the intersections between shared memory and individual recollections.

Luiz Zerbini continues a strand of programming at the SLG that has showcased some of the most significant living South American artists, including solo shows of artists Alfredo Jaar, Gabriel Kuri, Oscar Murillo, Rivane Neuenschwander; the group show Under the Same Sun: Art from Latin America Today presented in partnership with the Guggenheim; and a permanent garden by Gabriel Orozco commissioned by the SLG.

Luiz Zerbini has exhibited his work in galleries and museums worldwide. In 2017 Stephen Friedman Gallery showed his work in London, in 2016 Sikkema Jenkins & Co. in New York and the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain (Paris) is scheduled for the summer of 2018. Zerbini has had a series of retrospective exhibitions at Galpão Fortes Vilaca, São Paulo, Brazil (2015); Casa Daros, Rio de Janeiro (2014); Instituto Inhotim, Minas Gerais (2013) and the Museu de Arte Moderna in Rio de Janeiro (2012). He took part in the Biennials of São Paulo (2010, 1987), Mercosul (2001), Havana (2000) and Cuenca (1996). He is also a member of the Chelpa Ferro collective, participants in the 25th and 26th Biennials of São Paulo.

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