Nara Roesler New York is proud to announce Tomie Ohtake: Visible Persistence a solo exhibition by artist Tomie Ohtake (b. 1913, in Kyoto, Japan-d. 2015, in São Paulo, Brazil), curated by Luis Pérez-Oramas. The show proposes a selection of key works, embracing over 50 years of production, which together punctuate the defining phases in the artist’s career. The exhibition inaugurates on November 4th, remaining on view through December 23rd, 2021.


A paramount figure in Brazilian art during the second half of the 20th and the first decades of the 21st centuries, Tomie Ohtake is known for having produced one the most compelling body of works in late modern art in the Americas, embracing painting, sculpture, print-making, drawing, collage, theater staging, and monumental civic-scaled works. After a seminal period under the influence of lyrical abstraction, her work developed into a daring investigation on the density of painting that contrasted vis-à-vis the constructive-geometric and rational concrete art trending in Brazil during the 1950s and 1960s. Ohtake produced paintings featuring rich textural surfaces, notably made while blinding her eyes. These striking ‘blind paintings’ are of monumental historical significance in the Americas as they emphasize a corporeal density, contrasting against the backdrop of schematic concrete art, and proposing a bold phenomenological standpoint that stresses the whole human body—and not only its eyes—at the root of visual art. During the 1970s and 1980s, Ohtake produced an extraordinary series of paintings featuring a color-field, organic-driven figural version of abstraction. These works, exceptional for their beauty and masterful execution, and a peak within that period, can be linked to the whole tradition of vernacular modernism that took place in Brazil starting in the 1920s with the work of artists such as Tarsila do Amaral and Emiliano di Cavalcanti. Drawing from her Japanese upbringing and her understanding of visual art as a topological experience, she later pursued her work as a painter, theater-stage designer, and sculptor, which beautifully manifested in her late tubular structures and paintings of impeccable textural whiteness, created as she was approaching 102 years old.

With works pertaining to each of these fundamental periods, Tomie Ohtake: Visible Persistence foregrounds the marked phases of the artist’s career, celebrating every stage in its distinction, but also stressing Ohtake’s drive to capture the density of space, color as a generative field, and the corporal experience of form. As one of Brazil’s most significant artists of her time, Ohtake attained outstanding institutional acclaim in the country, and more recently has received significant recognition worldwide, notably joining the permanent collections of the Dallas Museum of Art, in Dallas/TX (2019), the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in New York/NY (2017), the M+ Collection, in Hong Kong (2017), and the Tate, in London (2016). Furthering the gallery’s continuous effort to expand the artist’s international presence, Nara Roesler presents Tomie Ohtake: Visible Persistence as an opportunity to consolidate the US public’s awareness of this artist’s truly unique legacy.