The exhibition of photographs by Caio Reisewitz that recently opened at the International Center of Photography offers a window on a visual culture of great fascination and complexity.
On the surface these large-format landscapes, many of lush tropical forests, seem to pay homage to the shrinking Atlantic Forest of Brazil, which has been savagely cleared for farming and industry—a subject notably documented by another Brazilian photographer, Sebastião Salgado. In terms of his artistic approach and presentation, however, Mr. Reisewitz (who studied at the University of Mainz in Germany from 1992 to 1997) emulates the style of the Dusseldorf School through large-scale prints mounted under Plexiglas.
The exhibition offers several clues worth further exploration, for the author’s progress from straight-on mural-size landscapes, such as a view of Sao Paulo from 2003, to collaged and manipulated scenes created as recently as 2014, underscores his immersion in Brazil's particular heritage.
During a walkthrough at the media preview on May 13th, curator Christopher Phillips noted the significance of a stately interior of the Real Gabinete Português de Leitura (Royal Portugese Reading Room), 2004, in Rio de Janiero, which houses the largest collection of Portugese literary works outside of that country. One of four interiors in the show, it alludes to Brazil's rich Colonial and Modernist cultural and architectural heritage.
Caio Reisewitz, Sepetuba, 2009. Courtesy Luciana Brito Galeria, São Paulo. © Caio Reisewitz.
Further reading, as well as important exhibitions at Hauser & Wirth, and Grey Art Gallery in the last several years, reveal that both photography (from its inception) and European Modernism have influenced Brazil’s visual heritage—but reinterpreted in the spirit of the country that produced, among other notable firsts, Brasilia—a city designed to be seen from the air, placed in a remote forest, and best approached by plane.
Past readings reverberate in recent landscapes made by Mr. Reisewitz, in which urban scenes are almost invisibly woven among branches and leaves of the forest. They would surely be overlooked by the casual viewer. Through a process of fragmentation and reconstruction uniquely his own, Reisewitz becomes the architect of a singular vision, which brings together a contemporary view informed by the spirit of Brazil’s heritage.
Most recently, the photographer has reinterpreted several of China’s mythic landscapes. In one instance he interweaves a section of the Great Wall into another ancient structure; in a visual reconstruction of Xingping, a historic fishing village on the Li River, he transforms an ancient banyan into a tree house.
Left, at the preview: Christopher Phillips, left, and Caio Reisewitz. Right: Close-up of Joacaba, 2010. Photos: Peggy Roalf.
Caio Reisewitz continues through September 7 at the International Center of Photography. 1133 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY. Information.
Note: On Friday, The ICP Store will host a book signing at, 6 pm: Aaron Stern | I Woke Up in My Clothes. ICP Store, 1133 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY. Information. This event takes place during voluntary contribution hours at the museum. Exhibitions.
Born in São Paulo in 1967, Caio Reisewitz studied at the Kunstakademie Mainz in Mainz, Germany, before returning to Brazil to launch his photographic career. Although his admiration for such German photographers as Thomas Struth, Candida Höfer, and Andreas Gursky is evident in the meticulous accuracy of his monumental color photographs, Reisewitz has developed his own immediately recognizable approach to the portrayal of Brazil’s landscape and architecture. His work has been widely exhibited in Latin America and Europe, and he represented Brazil at the 2005 Venice Biennale with a solo exhibition titled Threatened Paradise. His photographs were recently featured in the landmark exhibition América Latina 1960–2013 at the Fondation Cartier in Paris.
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