September 7, 2016

Lydia Okumura: Situations

The University at Buffalo Art Galleries
Lydia Okumura, In Front of Light, 1977/2015. String, glass and nails, 157 x 354 x 60 inches. Courtesy of the artist and BROADWAY 1602 UPTOWN & HARLEM. Photo: Yuji Kusuno.

The UB Art Galleries are pleased to present Lydia Okumura: Situations—the first solo museum exhibition of the Brazilian-born artist. Spanning both the UB Art Gallery, Center for the Arts and the UB Anderson Gallery, this exhibition showcases work dating from 1971 through today. The exhibition is a survey of Okumura’s career, showcasing her dynamic installations, indoor and outdoor sculptures and works on paper.

Known widely in Brazil for her spatially engaging work, Okumura remains under-recognized in her adopted country of the United States. She actively challenges viewers to question their perception of space through sculptures, installations and works on paper that blur the line between two and three-dimensions. Utilizing simple materials such as string, glass and paint, her work provocatively balances line, plane and shadow. Working for almost 50 years, she continues to explore the realms of geometric abstraction through both re-visiting past installations and new work. On display will be the installation In Front of Light for which Okumura won a prize in the 1977 São Paulo Biennial, along with additional installations from the 70s and 80s. These include the colored string installation, Prismatic Appearance, from 1975 and several wire mesh sculptures recreated from her 1984 solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in São Paulo including the installation Labyrinth. In addition, Okumura will create a new work for the UB Art Gallery windows.

Okumura’s practice is rooted in the history of geometric abstraction, but also influenced by Conceptual Art and the Neo avant-garde. While working in São Paulo in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Okumura joined Francisco Iñarra and Genilson Soares as a collective called Equipe3. Together they were awarded the Juror’s Prize at the São Paulo Biennial in 1973 for their work Pontos de Vista (Points of View). Okumura’s contribution marked the beginning of her signature style of site-specific geometric compositions and spurred her move to New York to pursue her career.

Through the exhibition and catalogue, the UB Art Galleries seeks to encourage critical reassessment of Okumura’s entire oeuvre and secure her position as a dynamic and integral figure in art history.

About the Artist
Lydia Okumura (b. 1948, São Paulo) lives and works in New York. She was born to a Japanese immigrant family and attended a Japanese school in Brazil—merging two very distinct cultural influences that continue to resonate in her work. From 1970 to 1973, she attended Fundação Armando Alvares Penteado and received her Bachelor of Fine Arts.

In 1970, Okumura began working in a collective based in São Paulo named Equipe3 with artists Genilson Soares and Francisco Iñarra. With their installation in the 1973 São Paulo Biennial titled Pontos de vista (Points of View), Okumura developed her signature style of extended geometrical compositions in site-specific spaces. She then received a four-year scholarship to the Pratt Graphics Center in 1974 and moved to New York.

Okumura first traveled to Japan in 1979 as a resident artist at Wako University, and subsequently has had numerous exhibitions in Japan, including in Today’s Art of Brazil, in 1985—an exhibition at the Hara Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo, Japan, where her work was acquired for the Museum’s permanent collection. Her work is included in other prestigious collections including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY; Museo de Art Moderna, Brazil; The Akron Art Museum, Ohio; and Museum of Belas Artes, Venezuela.

Exhibition catalogue
The exhibition is accompanied by a full color catalogue with new scholarly essays by Senior Curator of Exhibitions Rachel Adams and art historian Mari Rodriguez Binnie as well as a conversation between Rachel Adams and the artist. The catalogue also includes full artist exhibition history, archival imagery and full color plates that provide critical context for the exhibition. The catalogue is designed by Mark Owens and will be published in November 2016.

Support for this exhibition is provided by BROADWAY 1602 UPTOWN & HARLEM and Buffalo Wire Works. Additional support provided by Sally Marks and Frits Abell and DoubleTree Club by Hilton Buffalo Downtown.


Lydia Okumura at the University at Buffalo Art Galleries

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