Art you should know: Involvement Series by Wanda Pimentel

Involvement Series by Wanda Pimentel, 1968-69, vinyl on canvas

Brazilian artist Wanda Pimentel began her series titled “Envolvimento” (or Involvement) in 1968, the year the country’s military dictatorship decreed one of 17 major institutional acts that gave the regime authoritarian rule and mostly threw judicial review in the can.

So, her dissent of the country’s politics and violence toward the powerless had to be somewhat veiled lest she and her work face censorship… or worse. At the same time, in other places across the world, pop art and nouveau realism were rubbing their graphically shaped stones together and making lots of boldly saturated sparks.

In the Involvement Series, Pimentel painted in vibrant colors but a reduced palette. Her flat scenes uncomfortably cram together interior objects, from which there seems to be no escape. Body parts hint at the humans in the rooms, but their disembodied, naked status comment on the feeling that humans can be props, just like the objects of consumerism they use and discard, use and discard.

“Everyday objects crowd compressed interiors and suggest acts of corresponding domestic labor. Figures are fragmented,” states the AIC placard. “In this canvas, two disembodied feet emerge below the red ironing board. Their owner is otherwise only indicated by the closet full of blouses and the ready iron, the trappings of consumer culture through which we assume and care for our external appearances.”

Trouble inside. Trouble out.

But there’s some exciting expression in the series too, again subliminally disguised. “Messy piles of clothing, pools of spilled liquid and slowly dripping faucets seem to reflect the recent collapse of the political order, but also the excitement of sexual self-discovery,” writes Frieze.

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