The Roswitha Haftmann Prize 2023 is being awarded to the Brazilian artist Cildo Meireles (b. Rio de Janeiro, 1948). With a value of CHF 150,000, the Roswitha Haftmann Prize is Europe’s best-endowed art award and has been presented since 2001 by a jury chaired by the Director of the Kunsthaus Zürich.
Meireles is one of Brazil’s most important artists. His multi-layered work is poetic and conceptual but also critical and socially relevant. It covers a range of genres, including sculptures, installations and performance. One of the younger members of a generation that transformed Brazilian art in the late 1960s, along with Lygia Clark and Hélio Oiticica, he adopted a direct and sensual approach to his audience. He is es- pecially known for his highly sensory, immersive installations, many of which express opposition to political repression, (colonial) exploitation and the unethical extraction of resources. His work sharpens physical perception through senses other than sight (tactile, aural and taste sensations), and gains meaning through interaction with visitors, viewers and other participants. Meireles’s works serve as visual metaphors for a range of political, philosophical, existential and scientific issues, and attest to his ability to stimulate critical thinking. ‘The jury was impressed by the artist’s exceptional talent for involving his audience both intellectually and emotionally with politically charged and aesthetically fascinating works’, says Yilmaz Dziewior, member of the Board of the Roswitha Haftmann Foundation.
Born in Rio de Janeiro in 1948, Cildo Meireles began studying under the Peruvian artist Félix Barrenechea in Brasilia in 1963. In 1965, while still a student, he took part in the 2nd Modern Art Salon of the Federal District. His first solo exhibition was held in 1967 at the Modern Art Museum of Bahia. Annual group shows followed, before he moved to the US. At a 1970 exhibition at MoMA in New York, Meireles presented for the first time the now iconic works ‘Insertions in Ideological Circuits: Cédula Project’ and ‘Insertions in Ideological Circuits: Coca-Cola Project’. Both explore the notion of pro- duction, circulation and control of information. In 1973 he left New York and moved to Rio de Janeiro, where he lives and works to this day. In a career spanning more than 60 years, he has attracted the attention of the world’s leading museums, including Tate Modern, which devoted an exhibition to him in 2008, and the Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid, which accorded him the same honour in 2013. He has been invited to appear at the Venice Biennale on no less than four occasions, and has also shown his work at biennials in Sydney, Johannesburg, Lyon, Istanbul and São Paulo as well as Documenta in Kassel.
Image : Cildo Meireles, via Wikimedia Commons
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