The Art Institute of Chicago has put on one of the most interactive exhibits with “Hélio Oiticica: To Organize Delirium.”
This latest exhibit in the Regenstein Hall is the first U.S. retrospective of the influential Latin artist, who is known as the father of Tropicália. The exhibit holds true to Oiticica’s belief that those viewing art should be able to interact and participate in it. What starts as flat pieces inspired by European modernism transforms into works visitors can walk through, dance with, and play with.
The exhibit standout is “Eden.” This installation allows visitors to walk through sand, water, straw, and rocks. The environment helps the visitor travel to Brazil with palm trees, live Amazonian parrots, and a pair of headphones with “Baby” by Os Mutantes playing, a Brazilian band in the Tropicália movement. As you walk through this tropical environment there is also a lot of small spaces, tarp, and plywood. There is one part where you walk in a tiny, maze-like space that is barely a shoulder’s width apart that ends in a small room with a small television playing. It helps juxtapose the tropical elements while giving visitors a glimpse of what it might feel like to live in a favela in Brazil.
Aside from the installations other interactive elements include the Parangolés. These capes and banners made of different fabrics and some with slogans on it were worn by samba dancers. Visitors can try on the Parangolés. Next to the capes you’ll see a pool table in a red room, which is Oiticica’s interpretation of Van Gogh’s “Night Cafe,” where you and a friend can get in on a game.
These elements along with the look at Oiticica’s time in New York and return to Brazil are a testament to his idea that art needs to be experienced. It’s not hard to leave the exhibit agreeing with that idea.
“Hélio Oiticica: To Organize Delirium” is on view until May 7 at the Regenstein Hall at The Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S. Michigan Ave. For tickets and more information visit artic.edu/about/press/press-room/exhibition/h-lio-oiticica-organize-delirium.