Raul Mourão was born in Rio de Janeiro in 1967 and, during his childhood, his contact with art began through visits to museums, with his family, and through the observation of paintings and drawings that his father made as a hobby. During his adolescence, he develops great interest in cinema, literature, music and sports. In the second half of the 1980s, he took free photography courses and theoretical workshops on film at the Cineclube at Estação Botafogo, a place he started to attend frequently. His contact with different cultural areas, as well as his interest in sports and the poetics of the city and the streets are fundamental in the development of his practice.
In 1986 he started a graduation course in Communications at Faculdade Helio Alonso. In the same year, he enrolled in a painting course, Bloqueios Criativos, held by Charles Watson, at the School of Visual Arts at Parque Lage (EAV-Parque Lage). He interned in an independent video production company and, at that point, has his first experience with cinematography and film editing.
In 1988, he entered the Universidade Santa Ursula’s Architecture College. He took classes again at EAV-Parque Lage which, at that time, was run by the art critic Frederico Morais. Over the next three years, Mourão attended school taking courses and holding small exhibitions. During this period, he meets Adriano Pedrosa, Afonso Tostes, Ana Rondon, Augusto Herkenhoff, Cabelo, Cassia Castro, Daniel Feingold, José Bechara, José Damasceno, Marcelo Rocha, Marcia Thompson, Tatiana Grinberg, among others. He also became close to the so-called Geração 80, with artists such as Alex Hamburger, Analu Cunha, André Costa, Barrão, Marcia X, Marcus André, Marcos Chaves, Luiz Zerbini, Ricardo Basbaum, Ricardo Becker, Ricardo Maurício, and Roberto Tavares.
In 1989, during the public security crisis experienced by Rio de Janeiro, he began photographing the metal grids that were starting to be installed in the city for protection and isolation of residences and commercial properties, in addition to public spaces and urban furniture. These records end up generating the research Grades, which Mourão develops from the urban landscape along the three following decades.
In 1990, he transferred to the Architecture and Urbanism course at the University Federal of Rio de Janeiro. He shared a studio for a short period with José Damasceno, on Rua Taylor. He started making first three-dimensional experiments, producing sculptures and objects like Cream Cracker and Ovo Violão. He creates, in partnership with Damasceno, the fictional artist “Cafio”, a kind of heteronym of the two artists.
In 1991, Raul Mourão participates in his first group show, the 15th Salão Carioca de Arte, at EAV-Parque Lage, with three drawings and wins second place from the jury award, formed by art critics Frederico Morais, Ligia Canongia, Marcus de Lontra Costa, Paulo Venâncio Filho and Reynaldo Roels. The artist, who is participating at an art salon for the first time, has his work and award disseminated with great prominence in the media.
At the beginning of 1992, shared a studio with Angelo Venosa, Cassia Castro, José Bechara and Luiz Pizarro, in a house on Rua Visconde de Paranaguá, in the neighborhood of Glória, Rio de Janeiro. In March of the same year, he held a small show together with artist Cabelo at Livraria By the Book, in Rio. In this mini-individual, entitled Sculptures / Drawings, Mourão shows two pieces in galvanized iron sheets and two works in oil on paper. In the following year, 1993, he accomplished what he considered his first solo exhibition. From the invitation of Everardo Miranda, he presents Humano, at the Espaço Cultural Sérgio Porto, with works in marble, iron, glass and water.
Throughout the 1990s, Mourão participated in many individual and group shows, where he presented works that announced issues and procedures that will mark the artist’s entire production. In 1993, he returned to the Salão Carioca de Arte, at EAV-Parque Lage, and in its 17th edition he presents the sculpture Sem Título, which refers to the situation of the maximum penalty of a football match. It’s his first work that proposes a dialogue with the sport.
In the following year (1994), he participates in the exhibition Preto no Branco and / or…, curated by Paulo Herkenhoff, also at EAV-Parque Lage, alongside Amador Perez, Anna Maria Maiolino, Franz Weissmann, Maria do Carmo Secco, Mira Schendel and Manoel Fernandes. Mourão presents drawings in oil on paper. In the text published in the exhibition folder, Herkenhoff writes:
“In this exhibition, Raul Mourão’s work seems to deliberately propose a clutter. The raw material of the oily paper bundles contrasts with the opposition of light/dark graphics of the ‘figure’, gestural line or contour line. (…) If this is drawing, strange is its bodily opulence. If this is painting, the graphic incorporated in pictorial charge is striking. However, to inquire whether it is painting or drawing, would be an idle doubt, in this historical process of expansion of the field of languages. (…) In this work, yet can be found a disparity of moods. There are severe visual games. There are other ironic ones. The consequence focuses on a vocabulary of strangeness, of primitive, phantasmatic forms.”
In 1995, at the Espaço Cultural Sérgio Porto, creates the video 7 artists, where he invited André Costa, Barrão, Carlos Bevilacqua, Eduardo Coimbra, Marcia Thompson, Marcos Chaves and Ricardo Basbaum. Mourão hangs them with mountaineering belts on the gallery walls, filming the action and the exhibition space occupied by them. Playing with humor and irony, the artist performs his first video work, addressing the universe of art. Lasting 60 seconds, 7 artists has as photography director Paulo Violeta and editing by Leonardo Domingues. According to Mourão, “this work is a kind of visual gag, where artists and artworks are mingled and occupy the same place.”
In 1996, Mourão held his second solo exhibition at Galeria Ismael Nery, located inside the Calouste Gulbenkian Arts Center. It features four sculptures in iron and a digital image. On the occasion of the show, there is a debate with the artist Marco Veloso, who also writes a text about Mourão’s work, whose title is Um lugar que não existe:
“(…) Objects of everyday life are pulled out from their contexts, delicately, for a poetics, then launched in the art environment, made in iron, and then aggressively inserted in an artistic language of almost nonsense. It can be a soccer goal, a broom, a chest of drawers or a napkin over a glass. If everyone who makes art is characterized by a style, this mixture of violence and sensitivity are Raul’s signature. But, there are no rules in art, and Raul may not even have a style.”
In 1999, he held the individual show Sintético at Fundição Progresso, gathering the work Sente-se, Alcoólatra: indivíduo dado ao vício do álcool, Patas, Bolas, MAM, Carro/Árvore/Rua and Barcos/Cabeça. In the published folder, excerpts of a conversation are presented, via the answering machine, between Mourão and artist Laura Lima, who also opens an exhibition on the same place. In one of the messages, Mourão quotes an excerpt from the book “Quincas Borba”, by Machado de Assis, which refers to the universe and thoughts presented in the artist’s work:
“Anyone who knows the ground and the underground of life knows very well that a part of a wall, a bench, a rug, an umbrella, are rich in ideas or feelings when we ourselves are as well, and that the reflections of partnerships between men and things compose one of the most interesting earthly phenomena.”
In the same year, also at Fundição Progresso, he presented the sculpture Cartoon at the show Fundição em conserto. For this work, filmmaker Piu Gomes writes the following:
“It is a classic scene: from the top, a heavy object falls on top of the character, that, sprawled on the floor, sees stars in the air. CARTOON delocates the irony of one of the icons of animation cinema to the art space. One headless body, literally a wooden jacket that ends in a heavy, disproportionate big box . / Are we flattening rational thought, crushed by an emotional blitzkrieg? Or realizing that real life can be as unpredictable as cartoons, where things fall upon us without warning? / Did you see the bighead around? Says a Golden Boys song. Stop making sense, says a song by Talking Heads. CARTOON radicalizes this proposal by being faithful to the universe that originated it: simply, nonsense. Break your head.”
Still in 1999, he participated in the show Os 90 at Paço Imperial, invited by the artist Iole de Freitas, one of the curators. He presented the installation Não Realizados, composed of pieces that are part of large-scale projects developed by Mourão.
In parallel to the exhibitions, in 1992 he met film director Roberto Berliner and starts a working partnership that, throughout the 1990s, led him to carry out co-direction and art direction of music videos (Skank, Os Paralamas do Sucesso, Lobão, Pedro Luís e a Parede, among others) and documentaries (Som da Rua e A pessoa é para o que nasce). In 1996 he made a design for the Nove Luas CD from Paralamas do Sucesso. Artists Beatriz Milhazes, Barrão, Daniel Senise, Ione Saldanha, Lygia Pape and Victor Arruda are also invited for this project.
In 1995, Mourão, Eduardo Coimbra and Ricardo Basbaum launched, at EAV-Parque Lage, the Item magazine, conceived and edited by the three. Item-1 presents a drawing by Artur Barrio and texts by Leonilson, Lygia Pape, Ricardo Basbaum and Sergio Romagnolo. The first issue, with totally unprecedented content, has as a central theme artists’ writings. Item-2, having music as a theme, features a drawing by Hermeto Pascoal and texts by Ronaldo Brito, Arthur Omar, Nuno Ramos, Itamar Assumpção, Paulo Herkenhoff and José Thomaz Brum. Published in October, the second issue was released in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Brasilia and in Goiânia. From the following issue, Mourão is no longer participating in the editing of the magazine.
Still in partnership with Coimbra and Basbaum, in 1998 they founded and coordinated the AGORA – Agência de Organismos Artísticos, created in Rio de Janeiro to act in a dynamic and independent way of conceiving and realizing projects that aim to expand the field of action and debate of contemporary Brazilian art.
In May 2000, Mourão, Eduardo Coimbra, Ricardo Basbaum and Helmut Batista, founded and started to coordinate Espaço AGORA / Capacete, the result of the union of the groups AGORA and Capacete Entretenimentos, located at Rua Joaquim Silva, located in the neighborhood of Lapa, Rio. Coordinating producer is historian Luiza Mello. At the opening event, Chelpa Ferro group presents the performance A garagem do gabinete de Chico. In the same year, AGORA started publishing a weekly column, for three months, about contemporary art on the super11 website, where Mourão writes some texts.
In 2001, he organized Fernanda Gomes’ individual show at Espaço AGORA / Capacete. He writes the text Visita à camarada F., about the artist’s work, which is published on the super11 website. In the occasion, Mourão participates in a debate with the critic Paulo Venancio Filho. In the same year AGORA / Capacete space was selected by the Petrobras Visual Arts program. The approved project includes the production of six shows, two Item magazine editions and creating a website.
This decade is marked by taking part in a series of exhibitions. Still in 2000, he participated in the show A imagem do som by Gilberto Gil, at Paço Imperial, presenting for the first time a work from the Grades series, entitled Protótipo. In the next year, the Grades / Rio de Janeiro / 2000 research is selected by the 6th RIOARTE Scholarship Program, from Rio de Janeiro’s City Hall. With the scholarship’s support, Mourão develops the research for a year (from September 2001 to 2002), dedicated to registering the metal grids in the urban space. First restricted to Rio de Janeiro, the research now included the cities of Porto Alegre, São Paulo and Vila Velha. According to the artist:
“(…) the disorderly occupation of public roads we observe in Rio is also repeated in those cities. The chaos is the same and I ended up discovering new objects-structures-grids: trolleys from paper collectors, fences for trees, the stalls structures from the street vendors, makeshift barbecue grills, easels, etc. All of this was photographed and this new material ended up being incorporated into the research.”
Still in 2001, he made the video-performance Artistas for the III Mercosul Biennial, in Porto Alegre, in which he resumed the idea developed in 7 Artistas (1995). Mourão invited artists Lucia Koch, Mário Ramiro and Nelson Rosa to participate in the performance, held during the opening night of the Biennial, at Hospital Psiquiátrico São Pedro. The three are hung, with mountaineering equipment, on the walls of the exhibition space, and remain there for an hour, while the space remains open to the guests. The action is recorded by several cameras. The following day, positioned in the same locations and secured with the same equipment, there are video monitors installed, which present records of each artist, with the span of 58 minutes.
Mourão also shows the sculpture A Grande Área, produced with painted steel and following the official dimensions of the football field, according to FIFA regulations. The artwork was part of the urban interventions exhibition held at Sirotsky Sobrinho Park.
Also in 2001 Mourão presents the installation O carro/A grade/O ar at Panorama da Arte Brasileira, curated by Paulo Reis, Ricardo Basbaum and Ricardo Resende, at the São Paulo Museum of Modern Art. Participates in the exhibition Outra Coisa, organized by AGORA, at the Vale do Rio Doce Museum in Vila Velha, alongside Brígida Baltar, Eduardo Coimbra, João Modé and Ricardo Basbaum. In the exhibition’s text, art critic Paulo Sergio Duarte writes:
“(…) The reflective vein of contemporary art in Brazil has managed to manifest itself, with evident plastic impact, in a rich and generous attitude towards the viewer, without giving up the complexity necessary for the critical exploration of its limits and boundaries. It is inside this recent tradition that these works are inscribed. The richness of each of the works is evident and a long dissertation would fit to point out their contributions, however, it is worth highlighting a common feature: the formal research by these artists dares to break certain tics of recent Brazilian artistic practice that cheapen its history.”
In 2002, the Love’s House exhibition, idealized by Mourão and produced by AGORA, brings together thirteen artists from Rio: Brígida Baltar, Carla Gagliardi, Chelpa Ferro, Eduardo Coimbra, Fernanda Gomes, João Modé, Laura Lima, Lívia Flores, Marcos Chaves, Ricardo Basbaum, Ricardo Becker, Tatiana Grinberg and Mourão himself. For one week, simultaneously with the 25th São Paulo Biennial, each artist occupies a room on the third floor from the Love’s House hotel, which was next door to AGORA headquarters, in Lapa. In room 303, Mourão presents Área de Queda, installation from the Grades series, consisting of three pieces in white painted steel.
In the same year, he wrote a text for the exhibition Estímulo Puro, by João Modé, which coincides with AGORA‘s closing show. The collective, with nearly three years of activity, presented works by artists Antoni Muntadas, Brígida Baltar, Carlos Bevilacqua, Chelpa Ferro, Fernanda Gomes, Foreign Investment, João Modé, Jordan Crandall, Karin Schneider, Laura Lima, Livia Flores, Nicolás Guagnini, Tatiana Grinberg, and texts by the critics and curators Claudio Dacosta, Glória Ferreira, Ligia Canongia, Paulo Herkenhoff, Paulo Sergio Duarte, Paulo Venâncio Filho and Ronaldo Barbosa.
Still in 2002, he produced the video Cão / Leão [Dog / Lion], which presents one afternoon of a mutt dog’s life. According to Mourão, “the video is a parody of a reality show that transforms the mutt dog’s routine. From a despised and abandoned figure, the dog transforms itself in the main character of a film, the center of attention of a shooting crew. It is a sarcastic mix of documentary images in National Geographic’s style Walt Disney narrative. It goes from anonymity to stardom in just 15 minutes. “The 45-minute video is directed by Mourão in partnership with director Paola Vieira and edited by Leonardo Domingues.
It was also in 2002 that he made his first solo show in Belo Horizonte. Carga Viva gathers sculptures and serigraphs at Celma Albuquerque Art Gallery artworks from Grades, Cartões, Sem braços e sem cabeça series and Artistas/Lucia Koch video-object. In the catalog, critic Fernando Cocchiarale writes:
“Instead of the ready made logic, the appropriations made by Mourão are mostly restricted to the sphere of working materials, often determined by the analogy with raw materials used in real objects that serve as a reference to the artist’s recreations. (…) He almost never uses previously produced objects. He takes them, before, as a reference for his work, never as models. However, here, as for the opposition to the ready made, there is no proximity to the valorization of handicrafts, mimesis, or other forms of representation.”
In Rio de Janeiro, he also participates in the collective exhibitions Caminhos do Contemporâneo 1952/2002, at Paço Imperial; A cultura em tempos de AIDS, at Museu Nacional de Belas Artes; and the aforementioned Panorama da Arte Brasileira, at Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo [São Paulo Museum of Modern Art]. The latter then heads for the Museum of Modern Art of Bahia. In 2003, the artist presented the solo exhibition Cego só bengala, at the Centro Universitário Maria Antonia from the Universidade de São Paulo. Mourão exhibits the series of photographs DRAMA.DOC and sculptures, made from the Grades research. In the catalog, critic Daniela Labra writes:
“In a provocative parody, Mourão outlines a certain situation in the panorama of an urban space and glues in the physical space reserved for Art. Of his particular fascination with metal grids, the artist explores the social issue embedded in the hysterical importance given to these structures and mainly the plastic side of the anti-aesthetic absurdity of many constructions that end up becoming ‘sub-architectures’ in the name of enhanced security. The city serves us daily with a feast of visualities but, used to aberrations around us, we walk unscathed through the congested roads of dirt and wonders, forgetting that everything we see is a product and a consequence of ourselves.”
At the end of 2003, he presented the exhibition Pequenas Frações, his first individual at LURIXS Arte Contemporânea. In this show, Mourão gathers works made from images, signs, symbols and landmarks of daily life in the city and his own life. Caderno de anotações, for instance, is a 20 minutes long digital animation made from drawings taken from his personal notebooks. Mourão also presents the serigraphs Maracanã enterrado, Escultura para Waly and Mata-mata, also two sculptures from the Boxer series and two paintings in automotive and formic paint on MDF. In 2004, at the invitation of art critic and curator Agnaldo Farias, he presented the installation Entonces, from the Grades series, composed of 100 steel sculptures, in the show SP 450 Paris, at the Tomie Ohtake Institute, in São Paulo. In the same year the installation opens in Paço Imperial, in Rio de Janeiro, and art critic Luiz Camillo Osório writes:
“Entonces, which is a suggestive title for the exhibition, seems to unfold a question about what we did with our urban space. We protect and cloister ourselves, this is a paradox of a city in a state of panic. (…) As in other moments of its trajectory, it is also the ambivalence between sign and form something determinant in this artwork. The deconstruction of the sign and the constitution of the forml take place in the displacement from ‘the grids’ to the gallery, in the disruption of functionality, in the production of a non-place.” (Source: Segundo Caderno, Jornal O Globo, May 18th)
Invited to the second edition of the special projects of the Museum of Contemporary Art from Niterói, the artist presents, still in 2004, the exhibition DRAMA.DOC, composed of photographs and sculptures. Regarding Mourão’s work, the critic and curator Guilherme Bueno writes:
“(…) Taking visuality as an affirmative act, which puts itself, in a certain way, is a historic challenge. Because, if the grid was the Renaissance style instrument of a glimpse cosmic order (or perspective) or, in the case of a modern artist like Mondrian, the purified expression towards liberation of the individual throughout the world through gaze, here it seems to make its return to anxiety in the opposite direction: it is no longer the object of crossing towards pure content, but the actual materiality of what surrounds us. (…)”
In 2005 he held the exhibition Luladepelúcia, at LURIXS Arte Contemporânea. Based on the image of President Lula, Mourão industrially produced plush dolls, in addition to drawings and graphic works in partnership with artists Barrão, Carlos Vergara, Fábio Cardoso, Lenora de Barros, Luiz Zerbini and Marcos Chaves. André Eppinghaus, Daniela Labra, Fausto Fawcett, Marcelo Pereira, art critic Paulo Reis, Piu Gomes and artist André Sheik write about the artwork. The series of works presented at the show, which has immediate repercussions in the national media, began to be conceived by the artist when the President took office in January 2003.
Still in 2006, he held the exhibition Luladepelúcia e outras coisas at the Galeria Oeste, in São Paulo, presenting a new series of characters still inspired by the figure of the president. Mourão invites 20 artists to carry out the drawings in partnership with him: Afonso Tostes, Artur Lescher, Barrão, Carlito Carvalhosa, Carlos Bevilacqua, Daniel Steegmann, Ding Musa, Eduardo Coimbra, Fabio Cardoso, Guto Lacaz, José Spaniol, Leda Catunda, Lenora de Barros, Marco Gianotti, Marcos Chaves, Nina Moraes, Paulo Climachauska, Renata Lucas, Rochelle Costi and Sergio Romagnolo.
In the following year, he presented his third solo exhibition at LURIXS Arte Contemporânea, showing two series of works, all produced in the same year. In the Fitografias [Fitographies] series he immersed himself in the observation of the informal street beverage business from Rio de Janeiro, appropriating the colorful geometry of the adhesive tapes that protect the Styrofoam boxes from street vendors to make screens and a three-dimensional object with colored Formica strips applied over MDF. In the other set of sculptures that completes the exhibition, Mourão mixes boxes with small tables and benches creating works that resemble everyday objects, but devoid of their functional characteristics. Still for this exhibition, he produced the animation 4 boxes / 4 bases, in which different combinations of bases and boxes are displayed.
In the same year, Raul Mourão assembled the Mechanic solo show at 3 + 1 Arte Contemporânea in Lisbon, Portugal, where he presents works from the Fitografias series, Notebooks and the video Cão / Leão.
In 2008 at Caixa Cultural do Rio de Janeiro he participated in the group show Travessias Cariocas with the installation Daisy e Eu, the result of the experience proposed by the poet and critic Adolfo Montejo Navas, where each participating artist should appropriate from the poetics of another member of the show. Raul is inspired by the work of Daisy Xavier.
The following year, he presented an installation in the garden of the Museu da Casa Brasileira in São Paulo, composed of a set of rough stones surrounded through steel grids, as part of the exhibition Experimentando espaços, curated by Agnaldo Farias.
Still in the 2000s, in addition to participating in art shows, he founded Tecnopop, multimedia design producing company, alongside designers Marcelo Pereira and Sonia Barreto, journalist Luis Marcelo Mendes and entrepreneur Rodrigo Machado. In 2003, the designer and architect André Stolarski joined the group as a partner.
2010 was a transition year for Raul Mourão’s practice. Inspired by experiences that dancers from the Intrépida Trupe dance company developed with some of his sculptures from the Grades series, to present the show Coleções, Raul realized the possibility of creating kinetic sculptures. What marked that transition was the Passagem installation presentation in March at Projetos (in)Provados exhibition curated by Sônia Salcedo at Caixa Cultural from Rio de Janeiro. The show’s starting point is the relationship between art and architecture, gathering works by 12 artists in the exhibition space, within and also around the CAIXA building, such as Largo da Carioca, including installations, interventions and their respective records and projects.
Still in that year, he inaugurated the solo show Balanço Geral at Atelier Subterrânea, in Porto Alegre – the artist’s first solo exhibition to present kinetic artworks. In the presentation text, entitled Do ferro ao afeto (2010), critic Felipe Scovino comments:
“It was impressive to realize not only a new possibility for a kinetic experience in the arts, but fundamentally the action in its raw state transforming into something which we always identify as inert. Therefore, an action that, breaking with the inertia of its matrix form, projects the sculpture in the space. Through the action of the gesture on the matter, these sculptures remain the same, but only absolutely different from each other. Each one is unique, being fundamentally all of them. In the displacement of contemplation for action, Balanços promotes a kind of suspension of the subject; its starting point is the activation of the kinetic mechanism by the viewer’s touch. In the coordinated rhythm of its movement, a fraction of time (which does not correspond to chronological time, but is placed as space / experimental time of freedom) imposes what we could qualify as kidnapping the viewer: as if in that exact spatial and temporal condition, the work announced that art is not reduced to the object that results from its practice, but it is the practice itself as a whole.”
In the following months, there were two other solo shows featuring kinetic sculptures: Cuidado Quente [Beware Hot] at Galeria Nara Roesler in São Paulo, and Chão, Parede e Gente [Floor, Wall & People] at LURIXS: Arte Contemporânea in Rio de Janeiro. Critic Frederico Coelho wrote the text that was featured in the carioca exhibition, where he points out:
“Raul Mourão has always been terrified. Armored in abstractions, he walked in the streets and saw metal grids where they saw salvation. He enclosed cars, enclosed stones, enclosed trees, chased dogs, crushed heads, shut up deaf people, boxed up myths, hung up artists, expanded hatreds, cultivated partners. Through a crack, when we resumed illusions and celebrated life for no reason, Raul found lightness. One way to ward off evils and expand affections presented to him where he least expected: in the geometric comes and goes from steel. In the coldness of the straight angles, the artist opened a new avenue for his eyes. Yet the dread remains. Being terrified is not an option, but a condition. Raul and his studio locate the whole world from a street in the Lapa neighborhood. Sometimes, he settles up the stairs, where the gringos and the whores and the kids and tiles and families and couples and abandoned people cross his frantic days. Ignoring shocks of order and condominiums with gyms, the streets of Lapa are still hallucinating. Raul knows that. The kinetic sculptures of this exhibition are proof that even in this urban hallucination, even in the rust they form, even pressed between floor, wall and people, there is still beauty.”
In 2012 he presented at the Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro the solo show Tração Animal [Animal Traction], where he presented sculptures produced with tubes of galvanized steel and clamps, the Sala / Sombra installation and the Plano / Acaso [Accidental Take] video, forming a representative set of recent works. For the exhibition’s catalog, critic Luiz Camillo Osório, the exhibition’s curator, wrote:
“The world’s plastic and visual presence is part of his work, not as a theme, but as energy that infiltrates the creative process, unfolding the curious gaze in kinetic structures, in rhythmic planes, in dancing shadows. The movement of the swings displaces to the vertical planes of the elevator, and from this, to the mysterious design of light and shadow. If in the shadow room, despite the physical presence of the small sculptures, there is a kind of magical enchantment, which surprises the viewer and takes him to a kind of fantastic plane, somewhat illusory, in the video, despite the virtuality of the medium, what prevails is the materiality that insinuates itself between the of light, shadow and concrete shots. One takes us to a dream, the other takes us to the city. This game between dream and city is something that has always been part of Raul’s poetics and invites a deconditioning of perception. Things can be perceived without a functional determination, without the prescription defined by any order of necessity. This is the freedom of an aesthetic look that seduces itself by the mere appearance of phenomena, by the simultaneity and for the uniqueness of the sensitive data of the event. The open camera and attentive to the slow movement of the elevator is available at random and the mere enjoyment of what is presented in each passage of light.”
In the same decade, his kinetic sculptures gained scale and started to be imagined for museums’ external areas, and also for the urban space. Still in 2012, the exhibition Toque Devagar [Handle With Care] took to Praça Tiradentes, in downtown Rio de Janeiro, six large kinetic sculptures. In 2016 the Museu Brasileiro da Escultura e Ecologia (MuBE) presented the exhibition Você está aqui [You Are Here], which, in addition to the artworks in the museum’s exhibition space, showed a large kinetic sculpture in the external courtyard. Cauê Alves, the curator, highlighted:
“In fact, there is a playful tone to Raul Mourão’s pieces. They dance, behaving as if pinching the architecture and evoking a spontaneous, relaxed and unpretentious action of the visitor’s body. The rhythmic movement and the balance of the sculptures entertain the public, attract the eye, while provoking questions. Is the exhibition ready? The unfinished appearance, the transparency of its parts are relevant in drawing attention to the construction process, to becoming. The modular structures, used in large projects of engineering, could indicate to the unsuspecting subject that the museum’s building undergoes some renovation. Although MuBE is well maintained, conceptually it is revitalizing, under construction. A new curatorial project and management are being implemented. Raul Mourão’s show is part of the new MuBE and collaborates for another relationship between art, architecture and the urban landscape, highlighting the place where we are: here.”
The year 2013 also marks the artist’s move to New York. He then is based between his studios in Lapa (Rio de Janeiro) and Harlem (New York). Among the exhibitions in the latter city, is the group show All The best Artists Are My Friends – part 1, curated by artist Ray Smith in 2014 at the Mana Glass Gallery. In 2015 he presents the Please Touch show at The Bronx Museum bringing together a homonymous installation of large scale on the museum terrace, in addition to the Street Arrow works (inspired by road signs and old billboards) and Cave (a reference to metallic cellar doors found in front of restaurants and wineries across the city).
Still in 2015, he performed Su Casa at the Gitler & _____ space, presenting paintings from the Janelas [Windows] series. In the same year, eight paintings from this series form the nucleus center of the Fenestra exhibition, at LURIXS Arte Contemporânea, curated by Eucanaã Ferraz. In the presentation text, he he writes:
“In the sculptures presented at LURIXS, the metal grids remain outside the focus of interest, but the abstraction also retreated, to give place to something prosaic and recognizable, that the bars stole from the eye: the windows themselves. We are, however, facing invention, and with it arises a fragmentary and mobile architecture, dancing, thanks to a kinesis of matter that remakes to the viewer’s eyes – and touch – the conditions of weight, volume, movement, balance, time, value. Here, matters less the function or usefulness of things than its situation and ontology. Mourão’s gaze turns mainly to intelligibility of the forms, as if they spoke directly to us. His set of works – sculptures, drawings, paintings, prints, videos, installations, performances – always searched subjectivities in action, in permanent coincidence with the real space in which they move. If the city however, does not separate itself from its inhabitants, and vice versa, landscape or the contingencies of time and space do not matter as a simple backdrop bottom: the shapes uprooted from the city matter as an instance of the memory of social practices. So, instead of pure forms, we have that impure geometry, in which it is no longer possible to glimpse a stricto sensu abstraction nor mere figuration.”
In 2019, he presented his third solo show at Galeria Nara Roesler: Introdução à teoria dos opostos absolutos [An Introduction to the Theory of Absolute Opposites]. Full of antagonisms, the exhibition reaffirmed the artist’s multimedia production – composed of sculptures, photographs, paintings and videos – and incorporating poetic comments about the current Brazilian social and political chaos. One of the works is the video Bang Bang (2017) in which six sculptures, made with steel and glass bottles, are shot by firearms. In this work, in addition to returning to the theme of violence, recurrent in his work, the artist refers to the hatred for artistic creation, in reference to the censorship episodes suffered by artists and exhibitions in Brazil after the closing of the exhibition Queermuseu – Cartografias da Diferença na Arte Brasileira, at Santander Cultural in Porto Alegre in 2017. In a text about the artwork Bang Bang, critic Luisa Duarte says:
“Raul thinks and performs Bang Bang in the light of the events of 2017, when the Brazilian contemporary art became the target of a fascist rage that plagues Brazil, making us witness countless cases of censorship of freedom of expression.The video can, therefore, be read as a response to a moment in which art became the target of violent forces. But, note, Bang Bang never illustrates such a situation, which would make it pamphleteer. Rather, it establishes a poetic event marked by conciseness. The bottle, the geometric shape in steel, the kinetic register invested there that puts everything in a fine balance: the artist creates a scene that is both playful and rigorous, affective and sober, delicate and tense. A sort of an hourglass that counts time that can, at any moment, break. A meeting of opposites: empty bottles full of memories that bring countless possibilities of narratives and metallic geometric shapes closed in themselves.”
In the same year, Raul Mourão presents with artist Cabelo the show Experienza Live Cinema #4, gathering at the studio OM.art works of the two artists and one work done by the two. With sculptures, photographs, objects and projections, the exhibition is at the threshold between exhibition and performance, establishing free dialogues between the artists, and guests. Participations in the exhibition included artists Lenora de Barros, Lucia Koch, Marcos Chaves, the collective Chelpa Ferro, Crackboysjr, and Anani Sanouvi (Cia Kawin). Within the program, conversations with the artist Aleta Valente, the philosopher Bernardo Oliveira and researcher and professor Frederico Coelho were open to the public. Experienza Live Cinema #4 also revealed an old working partnership between the two artists, who together in 2011, created Rato BranKo. In 2016 the project was reconfigured as a production company, an experimental laboratory focused on making films, music, and art objects.
In 2015, the artist released the first edition of the Raul Mourão Book-Magazine – Volume 1. Divided into 14 chapters, the publication is a kind of depository of ideas, Mourão’s works and exhibitions in the previous ten years. Gathering sculptures, drawings, paintings, projects, photos, video frames and electronic models in addition to critical texts and interviews, the project has also the participation of other artists and thinkers. In 2020 Volume 2 was released. Both were published by Editora Automatica.
Still in 2015, he launched, as editorial director, Jacaranda – quarterly magazine about Brazilian art published in English and distributed internationally. The publication is part of the eponymous platform for the dissemination of the international Brazilian art scene, created in 2014 from a series of meetings between artists and critics, organized by Carlos Vergara. In the same year as the launch of the magazine, Jacaranda also started an edition of multiples, developed especially by artists, with value collected on the sale is reverted in the maintenance of the platform.
In 2019, he premiered, O mês que não terminou [Endless June], Francisco Bosco and Raul Mourão’s first feature film. With a world premiere at the 43rd Mostra Internacional de Cinema de São Paulo, the documentary proposes to analyze the institutional process and social security from June 2013 until the election for president of Jair Bolsonaro in 2018, from the analysis of activists, political scientists, philosophers, psychoanalysts and economists. Videos by visual artists complement the reflection on the facts narrated.