Lenora de Barros

1953 | São Paulo, Brazil
— Lenora de Barros

Brazilian visual artist.

lnfluenced by the work of her father, the artist Geraldo de Barros (1923-1998), and his peers, Lenora de Barros took an early interest in concretism. ln 1970 she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in linguistics from the School of Philosophy, Universidad de São Paulo, and immediately began considering the intersections between her already developed poetry practice and visual art. ln 1975, together with Augusto de Campos, Haroldo de Campos, Julio Plaza, and Regina Silveira, she edited the magazine of experimental art and visual poetry Poesia em greve. ln 1979 she developed one of her first visual poems, Poema, a series of photographs depicting the artist’s tongue interacting with the mechanism of a typewriter. She spent much of the 1980s writing poems, publishing her first book, Onde se vê [Where it’s seen] in 1983. Also in 1983 she presented visual poems at the 17th Bienal de São Paulo in a section titled “Arte em videotexto.” From 1986 to 1989 L. de Barros worked at the Brazilian newspaper Folha de S.Paulo, initially as an editorial assistant and then as an art editor.

ln 1990 she moved with her husband to Milan, where, despite staying only two years, her encounter with experimental Italian artists rekindled her interest, in the space of words and her own visual art production. ln Milan she held her first solo exhibition, Poesia é coisa de nade (1990), consisting of five thousand Ping-Pong balls covering the gallery floor, each inscribed with the title of the exhibition. The balls, or “ping-poems” as L. de Barros later named them, would become a staple of the artist’s practice, reappearing during the next two decades in her installations and performances. ln 1994 she began putting the bouncing balls in motion so that their sound became part of the piece.

Between 1993 and 1996 the artist wrote a weekly column she called Umas [Some] for the São Paulo newspaper Jornal da Tarde. L. De Barras used the publication for experimentation and dialogue with other artists, presenting photo performances and visual poems that explored the relationship between image and text. L. De Barras has said that the column served as her personal laboratory, as many of the columns were later developed into artworks. While text always remained central to her work, L. de Barros’s practice expanded to live, video-recorded, or photographed performance. Still actively creating work today, de Barras incorporates tenets of pop art, Fluxus, conceptual art, and body art to explore visual and verbal communication. She has received several awards, including the Boisa da Fundação Vitae (2002) and Prêmio multicultural do jornal O Estado de São Paulo (2000). Her work is included in collections such as the Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona, Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo, Centra Cultural São Paulo, and Daros Latinamerica Collection in Zurich.

Courtney Smith

© Radical Women: Latin American Art, 1960-1985

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