(Palmares / PE, Brasil, 1952 - Rio de Janeiro / RJ, Brasil, 2016) The artistic practice of Tunga (Antônio José de Barros Carvalho e Mello Mourão) moves freely through an array of disciplines, such as sculpture, drawing, performance, installation, poetry and video, transgressing borders not only in the scope of artistic expression but also in relation to other human practices, from science and alchemy to ancestral rites. One of the most powerful and influential artists of his generation, he has developed, over 40 years, an integrated body of work that is characterized by an associative interpenetration––such as mirroring and self-reference––between individual pieces. Organic elements and morphological shapes move, and are fluidly drawn between abstraction and figuration, engulfing themselves in the deeper layers of human sensory experience, ranging from unconscious sexual symbolism to the transformation of matter into spirit.
With a degree in architecture from the University of Rio de Janeiro, he founded, in the 1970s, alongside the artists Cildo Meireles, Waltercio Caldas and José Resende, the magazine Malasartes and the short-lived journal A Parte do Fogo. He has held solo exhibitions at important institutions such as the Center d'Art et de la Nature, Domaine de Chaumont-sur-Loire, France (2015); MoMa PS1, New York, USA (2008); Musée do Louvre, Paris, France (2005); Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume, Paris, France (2001); Phoenix Art Museum, USA (1998); Museum of Contemporary Art, Miami, USA; Bard College – Center for Curatorial Studies, New York, EUA (1997); Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, USA; Kanaal Art Foundation, Kortrijk, Belgium; Whitechapel Gallery, London, UK (1989); and Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (1974). In 2012, Instituto Inhotim (Minas Gerias, Brazil) inaugurated a second pavilion dedicated to his work.
Tunga has participated in numerous group exhibitions and Biennials around the world, including the Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw, Poland (2017); Bienal de São Paulo, Brazil (1981, 1987, 1994, 1998 and 2013); Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, Spain (2001); Guggenheim Museum, New York, USA (2001); Biennale de Lyon, France (2000); Mercosul Biennial, Porto Alegre, Brazil (1999); Documenta X, Kassel, Germany (1997); Bienal de la Habana, Cuba (1994); Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA (1993); Ludwig Museum, Köln, Germany (1993); Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA (1993); Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume, Paris, France (1992); Kanaal Foundation, Belgium; Stedelijk Museum, Netherlands (1989); Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, Japan (1985); and Venice Biennale, Italy (1982).
His work is part of important collections such as the Peggy Guggenheim, Venice, Italy; The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, USA; Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM), USA; Château la Coste, Le Puy-Sainte-Réparade, France; Museu de Arte Contemporânea da Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil; Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA; Instituto Inhotim, Minas Gerais, Brazil; Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de Buenos Aires, Argentina; Museo de Arte Moderno de Bogotá, Colombia; among others.