Two Top U.S. Galleries Take on Sonia Gomes, Brazilian Artist Known for Intricate Fabric Sculptures
By: Claire Selvin
Sonia Gomes, a São Paulo-based artist known for her abstract sculptures made with wire, textiles, and found objects, has joined Pace Gallery and Blum & Poe, which will represent the artist in the United States and Asia. The gallery Mendes Wood DM, which has worked with the artist for over 10 years, will continue representing Gomes.
Pace will open an exhibition featuring Gomes’s recent sculptures and works by her contemporary, Marina Perez Simão, at its East Hampton Space on September 2, and the artist will have a solo exhibition at the gallery’s New York City space in 2022. Blum & Poe will present an online exhibition—organized in collaboration with Mendes Wood DM—of 16 new works by Gomes on June 20, and the artist’s first solo show in the United States will go on view at the gallery’s Los Angeles space in 2021.
Reached by ARTnews, dealer Marc Glimcher compared Gomes’s work to that of artists Louise Nevelson and Agnes Martin, both of whom are on Pace’s roster.
“[Nevelson and Martin] imbued the work with some kind of magic—they woke something up out of very simple materials or very simple pictorial structures, and they woke up some spirit in those artworks that everybody connects to,” Glimcher said. “[Gomes’s work] is in that tradition of waking up those spirits in the materials and everybody feeling it.”
Glimcher added that the gallery’s representation of Gomes aligns with its “process of making systemic change.” Other than Gomes, only one other living Latin American artist—Beatriz Milhazes—is on Pace Gallery’s roster.
“We’re not in the business of congratulating ourselves for things that should’ve been happening for the last four centuries,” he said. “She’s a great artist, period, and a very good fit for our program.”
Dealer Tim Blum told ARTnews that Blum & Poe’s representation of Gomes stems from the gallery’s “very close relationship” with Mendes Wood DM.
“It’s so perfectly dovetails with all these affinities we have together as galleries and what Sonia represents for the world,” Blum said, adding that the artist represents a “singular, powerful voice of a particular part of Brazilian culture.”
Gomes’s intricate, multifarious sculptures explore memory and identity, and the pieces in Blum & Poe’s forthcoming online exhibition are “intensely beautiful, intimately-scaled cages” that speak to “crashing through suppression or oppression,” Blum said. The artist’s works vary in size and scale, with some exhibited hanging from ceilings and others affixed to walls or the ground.
“My work is Black, it is feminine, and it is marginal,” the artist has said. “I am a rebel. I never worried about masking or stifling anything that might or might not fit standards of what is called art.”
Gomes’s forthcoming projects include commissioned works for the 2021 Gwangju Biennale and 2021 Liverpool Biennial.
Born in Caetanópolis, Brazil, in 1948, Gomes began her art career mid-life, and her work appeared in the 2015 Venice Biennale organized by the late curator Okwui Enwezor. She was the first Afro-Brazilian woman to have a solo show at the Museu de Arte de São Paulo in 2018. She had her first institutional solo exhibition in Europe in 2019 at the Museum Frieder Burda in Baden-Baden, Germany, and her work has previously appeared in group shows at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C., the Rubell Family Collection in Miami, and the Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg.