Biography

Erika Verzutti (b.1971, São Paulo, Brazil) has spent the last two decades cultivating a visual language in which painting and sculpture are united. The playful, humorous objects she creates inhabit a spectrum of shapes and scales, and evolve from a core set of materials that include bronze, concrete, clay and papier-mâché. Into these elemental forms, whether a towering floor-based construction or a small rectangular composition, Verzutti integrates watercolour, oil, pigmented wax and acrylic. Components such as eggs, balls and geometric cut-outs, which in many cases are placed into cavities, are also frequently used.

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Although the artist draws upon recognisable sources – fruit, gemstones, animals, cemeteries – her sculptures transcend literal associations. As the artist has remarked: ‘I find myself using nature itself as a found object…but [also] inventing my own rules to create a different nature’. Rather than prioritising conceptual or thematic frameworks, Verzutti strives for her art to develop on its own accord. ‘I always try to find fertility in my practice,’ she has said, ‘to have the feeling that the work will naturally grow from a small molecule of a decision’.

Materiality is often the instigator for Verzutti’s creative process: her sculptures are dependent on activating a material and testing its limits. ‘It’s a negotiation between the power of bronze and treating it not as such a precious thing,’ Verzutti says about one of her most relied upon mediums. There is also a reluctance to adhere to traditional hierarchies. Her first papier-mâché work, Grandfather (2014), resulted from ‘knowing that I can do practically anything in a day using only shredded newspaper and glue’. Verzutti continues: ‘My hope is that this autonomy of home-made sculptures ends up contaminating the process of the bronze sculptures’. Such intentions are reiterated by the presence of the artist’s hand throughout her work, as seen through surface indentations and rudimentary outlines.

In her approach to sculpture, Verzutti also positions the object within the realm of the two-dimensional image. This echoes her ongoing interest to engage with images that she sources from the internet, which merge spacial structures and challenge ways of perceiving. In 2013 the artist embarked on a series of shallow rectangular reliefs that were inspired by the shape of an egg carton. Reminiscent of painting palettes, books and make-up sets, Verzutti made the decision to hang these works on the wall, leading to a critical breakthrough for the artist. Most recently, the hyper sensory era of internet culture has proved particularly pertinent, with Verzutti seeking to use her works to push the boundaries of visual stimulation.

Emerging in the early 2000s, the artist’s initial experiments with sculpture centred on gaining an understanding of the inherent qualities of a material – as well as the classical configurations of sculpture itself. ‘I would always try to make a swan or a dinosaur – shapes that were the essential vertical move from the clay up’. Being able to relate form to context – ‘to what I was living through’ – also started to become pivotal to her practice at this time. Verzutti’s experiences at Goldsmiths College, London, where she studied in 1999 had proved revelatory. ‘At university I realised what art really meant in its deepest sense,’ she reflects, ‘I deconstructed many premises I used to believe in.’

Prior to arriving in London, Verzutti had studied graphic design in Sao Paulo. Her interest in art was sparked during this time by radical Brazilian artists emerging in the 1980s, including Leda Catunda and Jac Leirner. Although Verzutti has carved out her own unique trajectory, outside of the traditions of Latin American modernism, the context of Brazil remains important. Verzutti’s wider interest in art history has prevailed through various citations in her work, whether to Picasso and Tarsila do Amaral, or Maria Martins and Henry Moore. ‘Sometimes I don’t know how much of that is a joke,’ she has said. ‘It’s probably more of a serious quote, but I’m hiding behind some funny way to put it out’.

Verzutti has had solo exhibitions at Nottingham Contemporary, Nottingham, UK (2021); Alison Jacques Gallery, London, UK (2020); Fortes D’Aloia & Gabriel, São Paulo, Brazil (2019); Aspen Art Museum, Colorado, US (2019); Centre Pompidou, Paris, France (2019); Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York, US (2018); Misako & Rosen, Tokyo, Japan (2018); Pivô, São Paulo, Brazil (2016); Galeria Jacqueline Martins, São Paulo, Brazil (2016); Alison Jacques Gallery, London, UK (2015); SculptureCenter, New York, US (2015); The Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, New York, US (2014); Centro Cultural São Paulo, Brazil (with Antonio Malta, 2012); and Galpão Fortes Vilaça, São Paulo, Brazil (2011). Verzutti will open her first UK solo museum exhibition at Nottingham Contemporary in 2021.

She has had work included in group shows at Plan B, Berlin, Germany (2020); Office Baroque, Antwerp, Belgium (online exhibition, 2020); VIN VIN, Vienna, Austria (2020); OTR Espacio de Arte, Madrid, Spain (2020); Anozero’19 – Coimbra Biennial of Contemporary Art, Coimbra, Portugal (2019); Bergamin & Gomide, São Paulo, Brazil (2019); Mendes Wood DM, Brussels, Belgium (2019); Lulu, Mexico City, Mexico (2019); Iberê Camargo Foundation, Porto Alegre, Brazil (2019); 57th Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy (2017); Whitechapel Gallery, London, UK (2017); Marciano Art Foundation, Los Angeles, California, US (2017); MASP, São Paulo, Brazil (2017); CAC Vilnius, Lithuania (2017); 32nd Bienal de São Paulo, Fundação Bienal, São Paulo, Brazil (2016); and MAM São Paulo, Brazil (2015).

Her work has been acquired by major museums, including Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation, Miami, Florida, US; Colección Cisneros, Caracas, Venezuela; François Pinault Collection, France; Instituto Inhotim, Brumadinho, Brazil; Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo, Brazil; Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo, Brazil; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, US; and Tate, London, UK.

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Works

Cultured Meat with Yellow Highlights, 2020

Oil on bronze
26 x 35 x 10 cm (10 1/4 x 13 3/4 x 4 in)
Courtesy: © Erika Verzutti

Surrealista, 2021

Papier mâche and polystyrene
174 x 77 x 41.5 cm (68 1/2 x 30 1/4 x 16 3/8 in)
Courtesy: © Erika Verzutti; photo: Stuart Whipps

Airplane, 2020

Aluminium, papier-mâché, oil and acrylic paint
52 x 48 x 6.5 cm (20 1/2 x 18 7/8 x 2 1/2 in)
Courtesy: © Erika Verzutti

Water, 2015

Bronze, aluminium and oil paint
31 x 21 x 7 cm (12 1/4 x 8 1/4 x 2 3/4 in)
Courtesy: © Erika Verzutti

2 Eggs 1 Gold Nugget, 2020

Papier-mâché, oil, acrylic and wax paint
100 x 71 x 9 cm (39 3/8 x 28 x 3 1/2 in)
Courtesy: © Erika Verzutti

Naked, 2020

Bronze, unfired clay and pigmented wax
46.5 x 41 x 7.5 cm (18 1/4 x 16 1/8 x 3 in)
Courtesy: © Erika Verzutti

Kiss on the cheek, 2020

Bronze
40 x 40 x 20 cm (15 3/4 x 15 3/4 x 7 7/8 in)
Courtesy: © Erika Verzutti; photo: Stuart Whipps

Dieta, 2018

Papier-mâché and ceramic
47 x 66 x 12 cm (18 1/2 x 26 x 4 3/4 in)
Courtesy: © Erika Verzutti

Tarsila with Orange (Tarsila com Laranja), 2011

Bronze and acrylic
27 x 34 x 27 cm (10 5/8 x 13 3/8 x 10 5/8 in)
Courtesy: © Erika Verzutti

Picasso with Strawberries, 2019

Bronze and oil paint
36 x 41 x 8.5 cm (14 1/8 x 16 1/8 x 3 3/8 in)
Courtesy: © Erika Verzutti

Mineral, 2019

Acrylic on papier-mâché, eight parts
Overall: 512 x 200.5 x 256 cm (201 5/8 x 79 x 100 3/4 in)
Courtesy: © Erika Verzutti

Iceland, 2020

Oil on bronze
39 x 22.5 x 5.5 cm (15 3/8 x 8 7/8 x 2 1/8 in)
Courtesy: © Erika Verzutti

Black Sun, 2015

Bronze and wax
65 x 66 x 5 cm (25 5/8 x 26 x 2 in)
Courtesy: © Erika Verzutti

Venus Carnaval, 2021

Industrial Papier mâche and styrofoam
536 x 90 x 90 cm (211 1/8 x 35 3/8 x 35 3/8 in)
Courtesy: © Erika Verzutti; photo: Stuart Whipps

Man Ray with Fish, 2019

Bronze, cast aluminium and oil
70 x 57 x 10 cm (27 1/2 x 22 1/2 x 4 in)
Courtesy: © Erika Verzutti

Grayscale, 2011

Concrete and graphite
Overall: 25 x 9 x 9 cm (9 7/8 x 3 1/2 x 3 1/2 in)
Courtesy: © Erika Verzutti

  • Cultured Meat with Yellow Highlights, 2020
  • Surrealista, 2021
  • Airplane, 2020
  • Water, 2015
  • 2 Eggs 1 Gold Nugget, 2020
  • Naked, 2020
  • Kiss on the cheek, 2020
  • Dieta, 2018
  • Tarsila with Orange (Tarsila com Laranja), 2011
  • Picasso with Strawberries, 2019
  • Mineral, 2019
  • Iceland, 2020
  • Black Sun, 2015
  • Venus Carnaval, 2021
  • Man Ray with Fish, 2019
  • Grayscale, 2011

Press

10 Stops to Make During Frieze Week

Harriet Lloyd-Smith, Wallpaper

October 2020

Crystals and Geodes as Nature’s Art

Emily Watlington, Art in America

April 2020

Erika Verzutti’s Work Seduces and Repels in Equal Measure

Fernanda Brenner, Frieze

November 2019

Review: Erika Verzutti, Centre Pompidou

Charles Asprey, Burlington Contemporary

March 2019

Stone Fruit and Paper Insects

Wilson Tarbox, Frieze

March 2019

Reloading Gurus: Erika Verzutti and Fernanda Brenner in Conversation

Fernanda Brenner, Mousse

February 2018

Review: Erika Verzutti, Pivô

Kiki Mazzucchelli, Frieze

May 2016

Echoes of Touch

Michele D’Aurizio, Flash Art

January 2015

Erika Verzutti Discusses her Latest Work and Shows

Frank Expósito, Artforum

July 2014

Erika Verzutti Talks Art and Cities

Phaidon

December 2013

Exhibitions

Erika Verzutti: Year

7 October4 November 2020

Books

Erika Verzutti

Centre Georges Pompidou

2019

Erika Verzutti: Mineral

The Frances Young Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College

2016

Erika Verzutti

Cobogò

2013

Erika Verzutti

Cobogò

2007

News

Erika Verzutti

in ‘Portals’, NEON, Hellenic Parliament Library and Printing House, Athens

Erika Verzutti

Museu de Arte de São Paulo

Erika Verzutti

Nottingham Contemporary, UK

Erika Verzutti

in ‘La Boîte-en-Valise’, Antwerp

Erika Verzutti

in ‘Crumple’, Vin Vin Gallery, Vienna

Erika Verzutti

in ‘Coimbra Biennial of Contemporary Art’, Portugal

Talk: Erika Verzutti, ‘Art and Feminisms in Latin America’

Whitechapel Gallery, London

Erika Verzutti: Venus Yogini

Aspen Art Museum, Aspen

Erika Verzutti

Centre Pompidou, Paris

Erika Verzutti

in ‘ISelf Collection: The Upset Bucket’, Whitechapel Gallery, London

Erika Verzutti

in ‘Viva Arte Viva’, La Biennale di Venezia

Erika Verzutti: Swan, Cucumber, Dinosaur

Pivô, São Paulo