In this eighth issue of Paris Photo online, we present you the work of Miguel Rio Branco (Las Palmas, 1946), one of Brazil’s contemporary artists with widest international recognition.
His multidisciplinar career crosses over the fields of photography, painting, video and installation. Rio Branco’s highly poetical compositions are characterised by an eloquent and overwhelming aesthetic, which often relies on his use of chromatic intensity and chiaroscuro techniques.
Rio Branco is currently featured in two important exhibitions in Europe and Latin America. Le Bal, in Paris, gathers his first photographic period in Miguel Rio Branco – Photographies 1968-1992, which will be held from December 16 until March 21 2021. In São Paulo, Instituto Moreira Salles presents Palavras cruzadas, sonhadas, rasgadas, roubadas, usadas, sangradas, an intensive retrospective which, taking the artist’s personal archive as a point of departure, goes over the main themes of his work.
Visceral aesthetics in the aftermath of pictorialism
Rio Branco does not shy away from the body, rather he dives into visceral tones. His photography and cinema bear the influence of his pictorial training, which imbues his style with a particular materiality. Displacement, loss and grief are key themes in Rio Branco’s oeuvre. Pain and sexuality are sublimed in his use of saturation and contrast. All of these elements are conjugated under a prevalent sign of ambivalence, especially in his photographs: opposing courses of action confront each other, caught in a vicious struggle over the ownership of the image. Turned into a sort of visual trench, the image becomes a site of excess, heavy with meaning. Rio Branco does not intend to mirror that which already is, but rather he creates new possibilities of existence, new gazes, new truths.