Henrique Oliveira — Small abstractions



Henrique Oliveira
Small abstractions

Past: October 21 → December 3, 2022

Henrique Oliveira left his hometown of Ourinhos (Brazil) in 1990 in order to study visual arts at the university of São Paulo. From painting to architecture or sculpture, Oliveira’s works explore the original nature of materials in order to redefine their ordinary use.

For his third solo exhibition at Galerie Georges-Philippe & Nathalie Vallois, Henrique Oliveira creates two new series of small and medium formats where painting prevails.

The first series of the exhibition, “EXLP” (Estudo para Xilempasto / Study for Xilempasto) is a ‘volumizing’ of paint. These ‘sculpture paintings’ are the result of a series of methodic stages: the artist first creates large-scale oil paintings where material is used in thick layers. He then chooses a fragment to extract from the canvas, which he enlarges as if he were zooming in to reveal the effects of matter and movement. To that end, he creates a papier-mâché structure replicating the volume of the chosen fragment, and to which he adds a thick layer of paint creating the effect of an over-materiality of paint. Toying with techniques and textures, each of the works in this series works as a magnification, an exaggeration of pictorial matter, imparting it with the status of a sculpture.
If Henrique Oliveira doesn’t shy away from references to great masters such as Rembrandt (the colors used in some EXLP vividly recall the flesh of the Slaughtered Ox), Van Gogh (in the volumes the artist created in the layers of paint), Lucian Freud or Francis Bacon (for their palettes and brushstrokes), it is clear that his focus in these artists is honed in on the technique rather than the subject. Zooming into one of their canvasses will naturally offer an abstract image. In this series, Henrique Oliveira offers a realist representation of these abstractions.

Exercises in color, materials, volumes and movements: one recognizes the ‘study’ aspect of these works. The importance of this stage is revealed in the second series in the exhibition, titled Xilempastos. Oliveira uses a specific technique he is particularly fond of: the assembly of wood elements reclaimed from building sites. This technique, usually displayed in his large-scale sculptures or in situ installations displaying organic materiality, adopts resolutely more domestic proportions in this new series, at a crossroads between painting and sculpture. Natural and painted wood pieces are combined in order to create three-dimensional compositions whose vivid movements evoke those of Action Painting — the main difference here is the expression of the apparent slowness of the gesture, the quasi-meditative state in which the artist creates these works. The perceived viscosity of a material — paint — depicted by a dry material such as wood confers an eerie sensation to these works.

The title — Xilempastos — refers to the wood protection palisades typical of Brazilian construction sites. From a particularly cheap material, Henrique Oliveira creates delicate sets of colors and movements, abstract transpositions of urban landscapes. He thus gives new life and sublimates what we usually consider refuse.
Creating a feeling of speed in slowness, of viscosity in dryness, of preciousness in scantiness, Oliveira links rather than confronts — a way of being in the world.

David Moinard
  • Opening Thursday, October 20, 2022 9 PM → 6 PM
06 St Germain Zoom in 06 St Germain Zoom out

33/36, rue de Seine

75006 Paris

T. 01 46 34 61 07 — F. 01 43 25 18 80



Opening hours

Every day except Sunday, 10 AM – 5 PM

The artist