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Paulo Bruscky with Daniel Santiago
b. 1949, Recife
Paulo Bruscky was born in 1949 in Recife, and received his BA in journalism at the Universidade Católica de Pernambuco, Recife, in 1978. Bruscky’s work reflects a simultaneous engagement with both the local artistic framework of Recife and a global network, which he documents in artist’s books, performative projects, and photographs. A key participant in the international mail-art movement and associated with Fluxus, he investigates meaning through action, collage, installation, film, and poetry.
Belonging to a lineage of artists who engage with textual or literary sources that includes Marcel Duchamp and John Cage, Bruscky engages in various forms of wordplay. In the 1970s and ’80s, for example, he published a series of classified ads in newspapers in Brazil and elsewhere advocating absurdist or impossible situations. Artearonimbo (1974), published in the Brazilian newspaper Diario de Pernambuco, calls for “a chemist, meteorologist, or anyone capable of coloring a cloud.” During a year that that the artist spent in New York after receiving a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1981, he published a similar ad in the Village Voice (Air Art Proposal of Composition of Colored Clouds in the Sky of New York, 1982).
Bruscky’s unique brand of visual poetry demonstrates a fluidity between art and life that exploits the context of urban routine. His works have often consisted of interventions on the streets of Recife and other global cities including Amsterdam, New York, and Paris. Here the artist acts out imaginative scenarios that range from the humorously absurd to the seemingly mundane. In the action What is art? What is it for? (O que e arte? Para que serve?, 1978), the artist played the part of a mannequin in a library window, physically negotiating the divides between art, knowledge, and public space. In another work, PostAction (1971), the artist performed a procession from a bookstore to Recife’s central post office carrying a giant envelope to commemorate “the end of mail art.”
Bruscky has had solo exhibitions at Espao Cultural Sérgio Porto, Rio de Janeiro (2003); Galeria Iberê Camargo, Centro Cultural Usina do Gasmetro, Porto Alegre, Brazil (2005); Galeria Pierre Verger, Salvador, Brazil (2005); Museu de Arte Contemporânea da Universidade de São Paulo (2007); Galeria Cilindro, Campina Grande, Brazil (2008); Museu de Arte da Pampulha, Belo Horizonte, Brazil (2010); Centro Cultural dos Correios, Recife (2011); Instituto Tomie Ohtake, São Paulo (2012); and Amparo 60, Recife; the Bronx Museum of the Arts, New York; and Plataforma Bogotá (all 2013). His work has also appeared in the group exhibitions Panorama dos panoramas, Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo (2008); Contidonocontido, Museu de Arte Moderna Aloísio Magalhes, Recife (2010); Ordem e progresso: vontade construtiva na arte brasileira, Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo (2011); Perder la forma humana, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid (2012); In Cloud Country, Harewood House, Leeds, UK (2013); Mitologias por procurao, Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo (2013); and sua saúde, Museu Nacional Honestino Guimares, Brasília (2014). Bruscky lives and works in Recife.