b. 1975, São Paolo
Adriano Costa was born in São Paulo in 1975 and graduated with a BA in art from the Universidade de São Paulo. Costa’s sculptures and installations update the modernist and Minimalist legacies of geometric abstraction for contemporary Brazil through the use of everyday objects. His work also speaks to the lingering traces of colonialism and the potential of a localized artistic tradition.
Costa reinterprets the approach and aesthetic of Neo-Concretism—specifically as manifest in the work of key Brazilian artists such as Jac Leirner, Hélio Oiticica, and Tunga—in sculptures and installations made from materials drawn from life in his home country including mosquito nets, umbrellas, and knitted tapestries. Applying a feel for compositional harmony, the artist disregards the objects’ original functions and combines them according to form, highlighting their visual relationships through strategic rearrangement. Yet while Costa’s works are primarily abstract, he often uses titles to imbue them with symbolism or narrative, as in, for example, The Bananas of the Earth (Os Bananas da Terra, 2012) and DOGS are MEN (2013). The latter consists of a collection of muzzles, leashes, and toys arranged into a single hanging sculpture with sadomasochistic undertones, and its title evokes the idiomatic dismissal of the male sex.
Along similar lines, Costa dubbed his 2012 exhibition at Mendes Wood DM in São Paulo Plantation, thereby relating its content to various important topics in Brazil including the exploitation of the country’s natural environment, the lingering traces of American colonialism, and the economic model of slavery on which the nation was founded. While playful, such works also exhibit a political thrust, evident in their use of delicately balanced formal components as signifiers of an ideological stance.
Costa’s works are usually installed chaotically across exhibition spaces in a style that the artist has dubbed “pre-sculptoric.” His avoidance of the pedestal and the frame highlights the vernacular aspect of the objects he uses and emphasizes their deviation from art-historical tradition. For his series Rugs (Tapetes, 2010), he spent two years collecting dozens of pieces of fabric, which he arranged on a floor like a carpet. The contrast between the fragility of the media and the all-encompassing nature of its display is part of what the artist defines as an unexpected infusion of geometry with emotion.
Costa has had solo exhibitions at Galeria Polinésia, São Paulo (2009); Galerie Krinzinger, Vienna (2013); Sadie Coles HQ, London (2014); and Peep-Hole, Milan. He has also participated in the group exhibitions Mitologias (Mythologies), Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris (2011); Convite á Viagem–Rumos Artes Visuais 2011–2013, Itaú Cultural, São Paulo (2012); Imagine Brazil, Astrup Fearnley Museet, Oslo (2013); Correspondências, Instituto Tomie Ohtake, São Paulo (2013); and Time Space Poker Face, Be-Part, Waregem, Belgium (2013). He completed a residency with Kiosko Galería in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia (2010), and was included in the Festival Internacional de Arte Contemporânea SESC VideoBrasil, SESC Belenzinho, São Paulo (2011). Costa lives and works in São Paulo.