Artist a was a student in São Paulo, Brazil when the plywood fence outside his window began to peel and fade into different layers and colors. The wood, called tapumes in Portuguese is ubiquitous in the Brazilian city, serving as enclosures and barriers for various sites. When the fence was dismantled, Oliveira harvested the remains and used them as materials for his senior show. The result propelled him into his current work: undulating, swirling, bulging peels of wood layered onto hallways and walls in daunting forms. His most recent show will be called, fittingly, Tapumes.
Oliveira begins with a PVC skeleton, tacking curls of scrap wood around established bends and tucks. He finds the bulk of his material in the dumpsters of São Paulo, choosing pieces that are splitting and decaying — affected by city life, then utilizes those aesthetic elements in each artwork. The laminate element of the wood is stripped from its basebord and arranged on a work like a brushstroke. Each massive, writhing art piece represents a combination of techniques used in architecture, sculpture and painting.
The artist seeks to address issues of perception and decay in his work — while stunning us with the glory of dumpster scrappings. His stormy pieces dissolve the barrier of order and swirl into expressive, dynamic forms. The show Tapumes, will be on display from March 26 – May 9th, 2009 at the Rice Galleryin Houston, Texas.
If Henrique Oliveira is shipping his plywood all the way from Sao Paulo’s high-rise or sprawl projects that are using their cheaply procured virgin plywood like toilet paper, could more of the focus on his work be on the plywood industry’s nasty and heartless use of illegal and unsustainable timber – in Brazil and beyond. I have seen Henrique’s work in Boulder Colorado and I really love his style and work. Even though it’s stunning and gorgeous, and even though he seems like a good guy, his masterpieces pain me. How much of Henrique Oliveira’s Brazilian plywood is made from virgin forest wood from the Amazon rainforest? Hopefully it was plywood made from wood that was certified as sustainably harvested. However, Greenpeace has released the report that talks about the plywood sector’s global use of illegal and unsustainable timber. The World Wildlife Fund says illegal and unsustainable logging is a key driver of forest destruction and contributes up to one fifth of global carbon dioxide emissions. I also hope this “reused” industrial plywood turned art is not contaminated by with industrial construction chemicals at the job sites, or made with poisonous glues and paints. If this plywood is a bit toxic, we art lovers and the curators may be paying an un-healthy price for our ecological naivety. Although Sao Paulo is a city celebrated for its ultra polluted air, Sao Paulo environmental sloppiness is also fast and furiously helping slay our global climate and crucial ecosystems. Some of Henrique’s beautiful plywood with a beautiful wood grain was probably used to make the unsustainable concrete and steel buildings, and unsustainable sprawl being thrown up by the big money and greedy factions of Sao Paulo. http://voxerth.net/2012/01/green-washing-a-piece-of-virgin-plywood/