Brazilian indigenous artist Aislan Pankararu at Salon 94 New York

Opening April 30th, 20204, Salon 94 (3 E 89th Street, New York) will host the first US solo exhibition of Brazilian indigenous artist Aislan Pankararu (born 1990, Brazil; lives and works in São Paulo). Titled Endless River, the exhibition features over two dozen paintings, including several large-scale canvases.

Born in Petrolândia, a city in the interior of the state of Pernambuco, and member of the indigenous Pankararu people, Aislan Pankararu began his career in medicine. In 2019, on the verge of completing his medical degree at the University of Brasília, he rediscovered the practice of drawing that had accompanied him for years. Since then, his artistic production has been continuously evolving, expanding into painting and installation.

The works on view at Salon 94 synthesize heritage and healing in abstractions deeply rooted in the cosmology of the Toré, a ritualistic dance central to the Pankararu people’s way of life. Toré bridges the earthly and spiritual worlds, highlighting the interconnectedness of all beings by opening pathways for divine communion through music, movement,and body painting. Pankararu’s paintings also refer to the rich and diverse flora of Northeastern Brazil and the generational, indigenous knowledge passed down through his community, explaining how plants are used for healing and growth.

Pankararu’s work arises from the memory of his origins and the need to connect with and express his ancestry in the present day as a gesture of cultural preservation, self-determination, and contemporaneity. Initially drawing and painting on paper, and later on canvas and linen (in addition to experimenting with leather), the artist employs traditional pictorial resources from the body painting of his people to craft his lines and figures. In the three-dimensional realm, references to the materials and elements that constitute their rituals and the landscape of the Caatinga (a semi-arid region in Brazil) form installations and sculptural works.

Across media, the works evoke the visual and symbolic richness of the Pankararu people, highlighting both their struggle and resistance and their past and future.

Pankararu’s exhibition runs concurrently with a presentation of furniture by Brazilian artist, architect and designer José Zanine Caldas (1919-2001) made between 1975 and 1980. Completely self-taught, Caldas’s work of this period includes his trademark carved and chiseled works of which some dozen examples will be on view across Salon 94’s third floor.

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