Artist Spotlight: Paulo Nazareth


The Tiroche DeLeon Collection proves again ability to detect contemporary art on the rise: Brazilian born artist who travels the world, Paulo Nazareth.

Since his first, and now widely acclaimed presentation on the international art scene at Art Basel Miami Beach in 2011, where he displayed the major installation and performance “Banana Market/ Art Market” at the Mendes Wood booth in Art Positions (devoted to emerging artists and galleries), Nazareth has become widely recognized as one of Brazil’s most interesting young artists. Tapped by savvy collectors, a growing roster of international galleries and international curators, demand for his work has grown steadily, along with prices.

“The Banana Market/Art Market” display in Miami sealed a 15 country journey through the Americas. Departing from Minas Gerais, Brazil with a simple pair of Havaianas, Nazareth made his way up north. Without preconceived strategies or formulas, Nazareth dedicated his route to elaborating a living body of work. Concerned with the web of human affairs and the social and personal ties that exist from household to household, he travelled from village to village, city to city. The installation, a green old-school Volkswagen van filled with sweet yellow bananas spilling out of it, was the culmination of the long artistic process. Nazareth used the art fair platform to create his own ‘market within a market’, wandering around the space, selling autographed bananas for $10 a piece or photos with him posing as “exotic man” for $1. 

Nazareth explains: “I wanted to tell something about the market and the business (Art business, War business, Mafia, etc.) (...) It's about the history of Latin America, about the dictatorship that started in Guatemala and affected many other countries (…) It's a period of social revolution, agrarian reforms and disappropriation. I wanted to say something about the big business of The United Fruit Company and the history of land monopoly. The bananas that I sold are a symbol for this part of history and it's monopoly powers.”

Understanding how significant this work was and how Nazareth creates a new form of performance art, the Tiroche DeLeon Collection immediately acquired the entire installation on the opening day of the fair, along with another smaller work displayed in the booth, thus front-running museums and other important collections that expressed interest in the work later. The installation included the van itself (we insist on keeping the original even though the artist/work doesn’t require it) along with 72 unique photos documenting Nazareth’s travels, two drawings and three placards.

According to the fair’s catalog entry, "Nazareth's 'Banana Market/Art Market' questions the dynamics of the art market and the art fair as a space for transactions and raises questions about the relationship between cultural value and retail price." It seems only fit that prices and cultural value of his own work has only risen since this display.

Amongst many other achievements, accolades and institutional recognition, Nazareth was awarded the 2012 “Prêmio MASP Mercedes-Benz Prize” by Museo de Arte de São Paulo, was invited by Massimiliano Gioni to do a site specific installation at the 55th Venice Biennale in 2013 as part of the main exhibition “The Encyclopedic Palace” and is currently nominated for the Investidor Profissional Art Prize – PIPA, the most important prize for contemporary Brazilian art. He participated in “Walking Drifting Dragging” at the New Museum in NY, and is currently showing in “Imagine Brasil” at the Astrup Fearnley Museet in Oslo, Norway; “Territori Instabilli – Confini E Identita Nell’arte Contemporanea” at the Centro di Cultura Contemporanea Strozzina in Florence and is participating in the Biennale de Lyon with a new artistic-nomadic quest:"Notebooks Africa ", where Nazareth retraces the African slave route, walking the entire distance, several thousand kilometers, from Johannesburg to Lyon, creating the artworks which are now on display.

Artist Bio

Paulo Nazareth (1977, Brazil; lives and works in Belo Horizonte) embodies the idea of the artist as a sort of connector, a performative decoder or a kind of philosopher. His work draws on language, ideas, actions and objects in order to establish or reveal the bonds that exist between people and their surroundings. Simple but strong gestures are used to evoke historical memory as well as highlighting social and economic tensions and class struggle—tensions especially apparent to him in Brazil and, more widely, in South America. Nazareth has had solo exhibitions at MASP – Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand, Sao Paulo (2012-2013); Museu de Arte da Pampulha, Belo Horizonte (2007) and the Centro Cultural São Paulo, São Paulo (2009). Nazareth has also participated in numerous group exhibitions, including, Museum as Hub: Walking Drifting Dragging, New Museum, New York (2013); Bienal de Montevideo, Montevideo, Uruguay (2013); Bienal de Benin, Cotonou, Benin (2012-2013); Il va se passer quelque chose, Maison de l’Amérique Latine, Paris (2012); Mythologies, Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris (2011); Caos e Efeito, Itaú Cultural, São Paulo (2011). He has taken part in wide array of artist residency programs: Buenos Aires, Argentina (Taller Imaginario, 2010); Belo Horizonte, Brazil (JACA, 2010); Jakarta, Indonesia (ruangrupa, 2009 and Galeri Nasional, 2008); Jatiwangi, Indonesia (Jatiwangi Art Factory, 2008) and New Delhi, India (Khoji Studios, 2006), among others. His work can be found in the permanent collections of the Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo; Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro – The Gilberto Chateaubriand Collection.

Nazareth is currently represented by Mendes Wood in Brasil, Franco Noero in Italy and Meyer Riegger in Germany, and is in discussions with several leading galleries in South America, the US and Europe. His Artfact global artist ranking has rocketed from 95’000 in 2010 to 5’387 in 2013.