The Ayrson Heráclito: Yorùbáiano exhibition has arrived at Pinacoteca de São Paulo. Originally designed for the Museu de Arte do Rio (MAR) in 2021, the São Paulo version of Yorùbáiano occupies the fourth floor of Pinacoteca Estação and is curated by Amanda Bonan, Ana Maria Maia, and Marcelo Campos.
At the exhibition, visitors will be able to experience the power of African mythologies brought to Brazil with the Diaspora, from the kidnapping and enslavement of various African peoples, particularly from the 19th century onwards. In the selection of works, Heráclito combines different cultures, embracing Yoruba, or Nagos, and Ewe myths.
“With the enslavement of African people during colonization, many cultures were kidnapped in Africa and brought to Brazil and the Americas. With that, a complex cosmogony of deities came to be revered, circumventing all adversities, and re-existing in sacred and insurgent spaces, such as the quilombos and Candomblé terreiros,” explains the artist, who was initiated into the religion in the 1980s and first came into contact with this body of knowledge.
To what extent might pre-colonial African knowledge be able to inspire the contemporary world from a non-European perspective? How might artistic acts that use mystical and/or spiritual concepts also be political works that use unique or unusual tools, such as the insignia of Black gods, to fight contemporary battles to protect nature in the Anthropocene? These are questions the artist discusses in his body of work. In this sense, he begins to use knowledge from the African worldview to produce a visual poetic narrative that reaffirms the protection and regeneration of the environment. “Motivated by this knowledge, I also intend to take action, symbolically, on the devastating consequences of racism and social inequality that affect Black people around the world,” says the artist.
Ayrson Heráclito: Yorùbáiano
São Paulo Pinacoteca / Estação
Open to the public until August 22, 2022, Monday to Saturday, 10 am to 6 pm
Largo General Osório, 66, Luz.
São Paulo, Brazil
Translation: Zoë Perry