The first solo exhibition in the Netherlands by Anna Bella Geiger will take place at location Hal of the Frans Hals Museum, Haarlem, between 1 April and 21 August 2022.
In collaboration with S.M.A.K. in Ghent and MASP in São Paulo, the Frans Hals Museum is organising Anna Bella Geiger. Native Brazil / Alien Brazil: the first solo exhibition in the Netherlands by artist Anna Bella Geiger. From 1 April, visitors to the Frans Hals Museum’s Hal location will be introduced to the work of Brazilian art pioneer Anna Bella Geiger (Rio de Janeiro, 1933), in a compact exhibition featuring a selection of her artworks based around four themes. The life and work of Anna Bella Geiger are inextricably linked, and the questions raised in her work are more topical than ever. In the exhibition, visitors will discover how this artist sees the body, her relationship with art, her home country of Brazil and the world as a whole. Zooming in and out through Anna Bella Geiger’s eyes will introduce visitors to a different and changing view of the world.
Anna Bella Geiger is one of Brazil’s most important contemporary artists, and has been a major influence on the development of contemporary art in Brazil. In the mid-1950s, for example, she was one of the first artists to create abstract work in this South American country, and she was a pioneer of video art that emerged in the 1970s. To this day, she continues to make etchings, engravings, sculptures and collages, in which she often mixes different techniques and materials. Her work features in collections of leading art institutions, including the Centre Pompidou (Paris) and the Museum of Modern Art (New York).
Melanie Bühler, curator of contemporary art at the Frans Hans Museum, is therefore delighted to be showing Geiger’s work in her first solo exhibition in the Netherlands: “Anna Bella Geiger is extremely versatile and adventurous in her use of different materials. As a great pioneer of contemporary art in Brazil, she keeps reinventing her work, and in doing so she continues to give us an uniquely innovative perspective on art.” According to Bühler, the fact that Geiger’s work is so inventive is closely related to the time and place in which she lived for many years: “In an era of dictatorship in Brazil and as the mother of four children while her husband lost his job and was arrested, she always managed to keep making art, even in difficult circumstances. Anna Bella Geiger turned every day materials, such as postcards and notebooks, into art, pioneering art movements such as mail art.”
Spanning more than 60 years, Geiger’s extensive body of work reflects her broad social awareness as a child of immigrants in Brazil (a country with colonial roots and major social inequalities) during the dictatorship (1964-1985) and the emerging emancipation of women and minorities. She often responds to a range of social developments in her work. In the colourful Burocracia, for example, she draws attention to the difficulties of making art in a country with a overbearing bureaucracy. The work is based on a, at the time, well-known advert for ointment. In a protest against restrictions on artists’ freedom, Geiger takes over the image with four women: “About art, say it with us: bu-reau-cra-cy.” Through her growing interest in the geography, culture and politics of Brazil, Geiger uses the world map as a central motif to explore the relationships between image, territory and power. Why does the world map as we know it today look the way it does? Geiger criticises Europe’s central position not only on the world map, but also in the art world. These were early signs of the post-colonial art movement, in which Geiger, as a pioneer, is an active frontrunner.
The questions that Geiger raises in her work are more topical than ever. With this exhibition, the Frans Hals Museum is challenging visitors to take a new look at themes such as colonialism and emancipation, by asking questions such as: ‘To whom does a country belong and what is my position as a woman therein?’
This exhibition is being held in partnership with the Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand (MASP), São Paulo, in collaboration with the Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst (S.M.A.K.), Ghent. A previous version of the exhibition was held in these museums in Brazil and Belgium. Anna Bella Geiger will be in the Netherlands for the opening weekend of the exhibition.
The exhibition Anna Bella Geiger. Native Brazil / Alien Brazil will be on display from 1 April until 21 August 2022 at the Hal location of the Frans Hals Museum in Haarlem. For more information, see: www.franshalsmuseum.nl/annabellageiger