Sonia Gomes

1948 | Caetanópolis, Brazil
Sonia Gomes — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Portrait of Sonia Gomes by Pablo Saborido, courtesy of Mendes Wood DM

Brazilian multimedia artist.

Sonia Gomes gave up her career as a lawyer to devote herself to art in the 1990s. She enrolled in the art department at the Escola Guignard de la Universidade del Estado de Minas Gerais (UEMG), where she studied from 1995 to 1997. Her sculptural objects are sourced from natural materials and draw on narratives and practices historically associated with women and Afro-Brazilian tradition. Memória [Memory, 2004], comprised of knotted pieces of fabric and wire structures fitted with lace, proposes a discussion about the definitions of art and craftwork, challenging the historical limits on women of African origins and their place in the Brazilian art canon.
In Mãos de Ouro [Golden hands, 2008], S. Gomes appropriated the title of the popular magazines sold at newsstands in the second half of the twentieth century intended to teach women the manual skills for activities reserved for private spaces.  She subverted these publications and their mission by making an artist’s book using embroidery, pencil, feathers, lace and cloth, materials associated with women’s handicrafts, while playing with the specific practices of contemporary art.

The series Torção [Torsion] presents objects made of braided wire that seem to hold themselves up in space. Playing with found and second-hand materials, and the morphologies of the exhibition space, the series enters into a dialogue with the vocabulary of contemporary sculpture, minimalism and religious spaces of the African diaspora.

Sonia Gomes began to achieve more international critical recognition in 2015 when she was the only Brazilian woman artist selected for the 56th Venice Biennale by the Nigerian curator Okwui Enwezor (1963-2019). The first retrospective of her work, titled Ainda me levanto [And still I rise], a reference to a poem by Maya Angelou, was held in 2018, simultaneously on view at a room in the Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand and the Instituto Bardi/Casa de Vidro. A solo show of her work was held at the Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Niterói that same year.

Her production can be found in the collections of international museums such as the Guggenheim in New York, the Buenos Aires Museo de Arte Latinoamericano, the Muzeum Susch in Switzerland, the Museu Afro Brasil and the Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand (both in São Paulo) and the Museu de Arte (MAR) in Rio de Janeiro.

Igor Simões

Translated from Spanish by Leo Stephen Torgoff.

A notice produced as part of the TEAM international academic network: Teaching, E-learning, Agency and Mentoring

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