Hélio Oiticica: Tropicália

Oiticica uses visual and sensorial methods to engage the audience in art that not only allows you to participate in a new environment but to reflect on your own response to the experience–connecting people with nature through the sensorial observation of one’s environment, Oiticia use of texture and movement gives depth to understanding the history and culture of Brazil.

In both pieces Rijanviera and Tropicália, Oticia uses the organic form: rocks, gravel, sand, and water to produce his installation as an “experimental image field” this experience bridges connections between the environment and the meditative experience of living in the southern hemisphere. It juxtaposes its northern counter-part, through the exploration of perception and desensitization.

In his earlier years, Oiticia spent time crafting homologous work with a typical pop and op art narrative which contained the geometric and pluralist performance of both abstract optical and minimalist references. Although these pieces were well crafted, he soon discovered the “all-consuming” nature of popular culture–the cultural mainstream he experienced during his time in the United States.

His purpose was to acknowledge the preservation of Black and Indigenous history in response to the counter culture that would take place in the late 1960s to 1970s. This can be seen in his piece CC5 Hendrix-War. Oiticica seems to explore the relation of Black culture and perception in the United States to the miscegenation in Brazilian communities. Through this audio-sensory installation, he reflects on the violence that has been imposed on indigenous communities.

In his piece Parangolé, he uses his experiences exploring favela culture and its indigenous-centered performance through Afro-Brazilian dance. Oiticica’s expresses the shape, form, and movement in this piece through his observations made during his time at the samba school Mangueira. He uses material that is commonly found in the community to invoke thought about the use of natural resources and communities.

Manifesto Antropófago

Cannibalism can be identified as consuming all or part. The use of cannibalism can be a representation of how the product of popular culture is the consumption of itself, leaving behind anything it deems inconsumable.

“Bourgeois, sub intellectuals, cretins, of every kind, preaching ‘Tropicalism’ Tropicália (it’s become fashionable!) –in short, transforming into an object of consumption something which they cannot quite identify” (179)

Oiticica reflects on the misery of misinterpretation and designs a sensory experience that invokes a cognitive reaction to the viewer’s own thoughts.



Frank, Patrick, ed. Readings in Latin American Modern Art.177-179.

New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2004.

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