Hudinilson Jr.: the fragmented diary of a desiring and queer self
12 Dec 2019, 2:35 pm
BY Théo-Mario Coppola
The official history of contemporary art in Brazil has been challenged by the promotion of unfamiliar and less famous figures from the 1970s and 1980s underground. Some of these figures are in fact unavoidable personalities. This is the case of Hudinilson Jr., whose complex and provocative practice challenges the Brazilian artists of his time. This year, his work was featured in an important individual show at Galeria Jaqueline Martins (São Paulo, Brazil), which holds a central place in the defense of this plural and complex history of arts in Brazil, and, in 2020, the artist will be the protagonist in Pinacoteca de São Paulo’s program. Additionally, Hudinilson Jr. was one of the Brazilian artists brought to light by the new curatorial reformulation held by MoMA (NY).
He built relationships with artists from his generation and received the support of major critics, however the circulation of his works remained limited until a recent time. Even so, his work has a particular echo with the international political context. He was an activist, a committed artist, a singular performer. He developed life by documenting it. He created by multiplying experiments. Although Hudinilson Jr. never traveled outside Brazil, and therefore did not frequent the major international art scenes, his knowledge on the art of his time and the heritage of art history within his works are precise and resonate relevantly and sensitively with his practice.
Embora o legado da abstração, do minimalismo e da arte conceitual pareça impor uma história oficial da arte no Brasil durante as décadas de 60, 70 e 80, algumas figuras, a exemplo de Hudinilson Jr., desenvolveram sua prática na intersecção entre diário pessoal, experimentos com novas mídias e ativismo político.
Major figure in the late 1970s and 1980s, Hudinilson Jr. has been reflecting for several decades on the status of the artist, his political and aesthetic position – not seeking to make a distinction between them. His numerous experiments testify to a formal self-reflection on his own artistic experience. The artist was also part of the famous group 3NÓS3, connected to the youngest and most transgressive agents willing to intervene in the city and also to scholarly focused figures interested in discussing new technologies in art and its power to convince, to reach and also to violate behavioral and political rules during Brazilian dictatorship. The artist was born in São Paulo in 1957 and died in the same city in 2013 – he was still productive at the time. His work continues to resound with and stimulate new generations of artists in and outside Brazil. For this reason, we can say Hudinilson Jr. was a transgressive figure.
While the legacy of abstraction, minimalism and conceptual art seems to dominate a more official history of art in Brazil during the 60s, 70s and 80s, figures such as Hudinilson Jr. developed a practice at the intersection of diary, new media experiments and political activism. For instance, each “Caderno de referência” gathers, like a diary, pages on which are arranged press articles, photographs, homosexual erotic and pornographic photographs, cinema and video stills, critical reviews, as well as the collected documents.
The representation of a desiring body, the evocation of skin and the occurrence of sex scenes, combined with a sensitivity towards social environment, permanently present in his works, testify to a desire to free the body. The latter then becomes the essential tool for the liberation of a condition threatened by bourgeois morality, the violence of the dictatorship, the legacy of positivism. Spanning from this line of thinking, Hudinilson Jr. photographed himself as Rrose Selavy (‘Eros, c’est la vie’ ‘Eros, that’s life’), Marcel Duchamp’s feminine alter ego, in the work “Marcel Duchamp, xeque-mate na Arte do Nosso Século”. This appropriation of an iconic gesture by Duchamp is an indication of the artist’s political positioning, who develops in his notebooks, collages and Xerox art a representation of the sensual and transgressive self, a reversal of the official image of the male body under dictatorship and censorship in Brazil.
With a personal reflection on the representation of the self and the construction of an intimate identity, Hudinilson Jr. reinvests the figure of ‘Narcissus’, which then becomes a driving force of the individual action to resist. The use of found documents combined with the self-produced images invites to contemplate the self-representation of the body, and its intimacy as a political autofiction.
About the artist
Hudinilson Jr. is one of the most influential artists of his generation, inspiring the whole scene in Brazil, through his works during the 1970s and the 1980s. He played an active role as an agent in the underground scenario. Hudinislon Jr. is a major figure in Brazilian contemporary art. While critical mass is still limited outside Brazil, several international projects are and will continue to be involved in the artist’s international recognition. His works are featured in important public collections such as MoMA (New York, EUA), Reina Sofia Museum (Madrid, Spain), Migros Museum (Zurich, Switzerland), MAGA Museo d’Arte (Gallarate, Italy), Malba (Buenos Aires, Argentina), Masp (São Paulo, Brazil), Pinacoteca do Estado (São Paulo, Brazil) and the Museum of Contemporary Art of São Paulo University (São Paulo, Brazil).