Published August 9, 2016
The UB Art Galleries will present the first solo museum exhibition of Brazilian-born artist Lydia Okumura in the United States Sept. 8 through Jan. 7 in both the UB Art Gallery in the Center for the Arts and the UB Anderson Gallery.
“Lydia Okumura: Situation” is a survey of Okumura’s career from 1971 through today, showcasing her dynamic installations, indoor and outdoor sculptures, and works on paper.
During the exhibition, Okumura also will create a new work for the UB Art Gallery titled “Diagonal Light.”
The exhibition’s opening reception will take place from 5-8 p.m. Sept. 8 in the UB Art Gallery; a reception in the UB Anderson Gallery from noon to 1 p.m. on Sept. 10 will feature a conversation between the artist and Rachel Adams, senior curator of exhibitions for the UB Art Galleries and curator of this exhibition.
Recognized widely in Brazil for her spatially engaging work, Okumura is not as well-known in the U.S., her adopted country.
Her work actively challenges viewers to question their perception of space through sculptures, installations and works on paper that blur the line between two and three dimensions. Using such simple materials as string, glass and paint, she balances line, plane and shadow, and continues to explore the realms of geometric abstraction through re-imaginations of both past installations and new work.
Among the work to be exhibited at UB is “In Front of Light,” which won Okumura a prize in the 1977 São Paulo Biennial. Additional installations are the colored-string “Prismatic Appearance” (1975), as well as several wire mesh sculptures from her 1984 solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in São Paulo, including the large-scale installation “Labyrinth.”
Okumura’s work is rooted in the history of geometric abstraction, influenced by Constructivism and the Bauhaus, as well as the Concrete and Neo-Concrete movements in Brazil. While working in São Paulo in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Okumura joined Francisco Iñarra and Genilson Soares to form a collective called Equipe3. Together, they were awarded the Juror’s Prize at the São Paulo Biennial in 1973 for their work “Pontos de Vista” (Points of View). Okumura’s contribution marked the beginning of her signature style of extended geometric compositions in site-specific spaces, and spurred her move to New York to pursue her career.
Okumura continues to live and work in New York. She was born in 1948 in São Paulo to a Japanese immigrant family and attended a Japanese school in Brazil — a merger of two distinct cultural influences that continue to resonate in her work.
She first traveled to Japan in 1979 as a resident artist at Wako University, and subsequently has had numerous exhibitions in Japan, including in “Today’s Art of Brazil” in 1985 — an exhibition at the Hara Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo.
Her work is included in numerous collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York; Museo de Art Moderna in Brazil; the Akron Art Museum in Akron, Ohio; and Museum of Belas Artes in Venezuela, as well as the Hara Museum in Tokyo.
The UB Art Gallery in the Center for the Arts is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and from 1-5 p.m. on Saturday. Hours for the UB Anderson Gallery, located at One Martha Jackson Place off Englewood Avenue near the South Campus, are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday and from 1-5 p.m. on Sunday.
Admission to both galleries is free.