The poetic and autobiographical artistry of José Leonilson is considered one of the most important to emerge from the collapse of the Brazilian dictatorship in 1985. The first major European retrospective of the artist, who died of AIDS in 1993, is now shown at Malmö Konsthall. In an intimate and direct form Leonilson depicted homosexuality, gender stereotypes, the feeling of being an outsider, and the enormous divide between the poor and the affluent in Brazilian society.
The work of Leonilson is poetic, vulnerable and intimate, filled with emotions and ambiguity, often including written elements. ”I don’t express myself with violence, or using power. I believe small, quiet things pierce you as sharply as a bullet in the head”, reads a quote from the artist. Ideas and materials were sourced in everyday experience, and transformed into art objects strongly informed by the artist’s personal relationships, particularly his romantic engagements with other men.
Leonilson – Drawn: 1975–1993 gives an overview of Leonilson’s entire oeuvre. The exhibition presents a selection of 250 works, from his early paintings to the late introspective embroidery, created after he was diagnosed with AIDS.
Art Week offers the last chance to experience the exhibition, which runs until October 10. The exhibition was compiled at the KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin.
Source: Malmö Konsthall