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Exhibition of new paintings and a film by artist Sarah Morris opens at White Cube
Sarah Morris, Bye Bye Brazil White Cube Bermondsey, 17 July - 29 September 2013. © Sarah Morris. Photo: Ben Westoby. Courtesy White Cube.

LONDON.- White Cube presents an exhibition of new paintings and a film by Sarah Morris. Titled after Carlos Diegues’ ground-breaking film from the 1970s that encapsulated a key moment in the modernisation of contemporary Brazil, the work in this exhibition focuses on the country on the eve of another era of dramatic change.

Morris describes her paintings and filmmaking – parallel activities within her practice – as a way of investigating and tracing ‘urban, social and bureaucratic typologies’. In Rio (2012), Morris’ eleventh film, she depicts the multifarious and complex layers of this most contradictory of cities, from its highly orchestrated and eroticised surface image, to the infinite realities of its vast urban sprawl and the minutiae of its day-to-day living. Johanna Burton has described Morris’ films as being characteised by a ‘pulsing, nervous, chromatic attention’ and in this film, her camera wanders flaneur-like through Rio’s beaches, fruit stands, hospitals, iconic modernist architecture, football stadiums, factories and favelas. Filming in locations such as the office of architect Oscar Niemeyer just before his death, the office of the Mayor of Rio, the infamous Carnival and its ‘Winner’s Parade’, the legendary ‘City of God’ neighbourhood, as well as the inside of the Brahma beer factory, Rio focuses on the city’s architecture and, in particular, on the way that it engineers social interaction and plays a key role in Brazil’s outward-facing identity. With images that alternate between the micro and macro, the landscape and the detail and day and night, Morris’ film creates a hallucinatory, parallel visual space that explores the psychology of this city at a particular moment in its history and traces how this can be read in its signs and surface appearance.

In the new series of ‘Rio’ paintings, Morris both expands and reduces her abstract compositions, exploring dynamic new forms and colours that act like a collective after-image of the diverse elements of this immense city. Drawing inspiration from a wide range of sources – the work of Roberto Burle Marx, Lina Bo Bardi, Oscar Niemeyer, lunar cycles and Bossa Nova album covers – her canvases are made up of vivid compositions whose curves, vectors and interlocking spheres reference the sharp contrasts, curvaceous lines and dramatic brise-soleil of the Modernist architecture that is found all over the city. Morris’ palette for these paintings draws influence from these sources as well as from the Carnival and the Sambódromo, Rio’s numerous fruit juice bars, the beach chairs at Ipanema and the industrial design of mainstream Brazilian products including Brahma and Antarctica beers. Morris’ paintings strive to relay the particular psychology of Rio’s urban environment through splintered and repeat compositions that mimic the beat of the city.

Sarah Morris was born in 1967 in the UK and grew up in Providence, Rhode Island, USA. She lives and works in New York and London. Solo exhibitions include ‘Points on a Line’, The Wexner Center for the Arts, Ohio (2012); MAMbo, Bologna (2009), and MMK, Frankfurt (2009); Lenbachaus, Munich (2008); Fondation Beyeler, Basel (2008); Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam (2006); Moderna Museet, Stockholm (2005); Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2005); Kunstforeningen, Copenhagen (2004); Kestner Gesellschaft, Hannover (2005) and National galerie im Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin (2001). Group exhibitions include 4th Site Santa Fe Biennial (2001); 25th Bienal de São Paolo (2002) and ‘Days Like These’, Tate Triennial, London (2003).

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