Portrait of Teresinha Soares

The Brazilian artist Teresinha Soares was born in 1927 in Araxá, in the state of Minas Gerais. Soares dedicated herself first to writing and acting, activities she has never completely abandoned. In 1965 she began her visual arts training in Belo Horizonte at the Universidade Mineira de Artes. The next year she took classes in composition with Fayga Ostrower (1920–2001) and in metal engraving with José Ronaldo Lima (b. 1939) at the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais. In 1966 Soares moved to Rio de Janeiro, where she studied at the Museu de Arte Moderna with the artists Ivan Serpa (1923– 1973), Rubens Gerchman (1942–2008), and Anna Maria Maiolino (b. 1942).

The bright colors and bold shapes of Soares's two- and three-dimensional pieces connect the artist with pop art and Brazilian new figuration. Although she actively created artworks only between 1965 and 1976, Soares left an indelible mark on the Brazilian art scene. Her career coincided with the early years of military rule in Brazil, and she often used humor and eroticism as strategies to defy conservatism and censorship. This is evident, for example, in Caixa de fazer amor (Lovemaking box, 1967) and Camas (Beds, 1970). Both pieces were open to participation by the public, an important aspect of her production. In 1970 she created the artist's book Eurótica, a collection of line drawings showing an unrestrained female view of sex and desire, whose title plays with the words eu (I) and erótica.

During the 1970s Soares also created groundbreaking installations and performances, such as the multimedia piece Corpo a Corpo in Cor-pus Meus (Body to body in color-pus of mine), one of her best-known works. Presented at the 2nd Salão Nacional in Belo Horizonte in 1970, the piece combined performance, installation, poetry, and dance and made explicit references to sexuality. In the performance Morte (Death, 1973), the second part of the trilogy Túmulos (Graves), she enacted her own death, complete with the arrival of an ambulance to the opening of the Salão Nacional de Arte Moderna in Rio de Janeiro. Soares's daring work attracted much criticism from the conservative Brazilian establishment, and she was repeatedly attacked in print.

Her first exhibition was held in 1967, at Galeria Guignard in Belo Horizonte, and she has participated in important group shows, for example, the Bienal de São Paulo (1967, 1971); Neovanguardas (2007), Museu de Arte da Pampulha, Belo Horizonte; and The World Goes Pop (2015), Tate Modern, London. Among her many accolades, Soares received second grand prize for painting at the Salão Municipal de Belas Artes in Belo Horizonte (1968); the acquisition prize at the 3rd Salão Nacional de Arte (1971), organized by the Museu de Arte da Pampulha; and the Jury Exemption Award at the Salão Nacional de Arte Moderna (1973) in Rio de Janeiro.

—Mariana von Hartenthal

Selected Solo Exhibitions

1967 Teresinha Soares caixas e óleos, Galeria Guignard, Belo Horizonte, Brazil

1969 Teresinha Soares, Museu Dona Beja, Araxá, Brazil

1971 Teresinha Soares, Petite Galerie, Rio de Janeiro

2010 Teresinha Soares, Galeria Livroobjeto, Belo Horizonte, Brazil

2017 Quem tem medo de Teresinha Soares?, Museu de Arte de São Paulo

Selected Bibliography

Gotti, Sofia. "Eroticism, Humour and Graves: A Conversation with Teresinha Soares." N. Paradoxa 36 (July 2015): 67–73.

———. "A Pantagruelian Pop: Teresinha Soares's 'Erotic Art of Contestation.'" Tate Papers, no. 24 (Fall 2015): 1–13.

Morgan, Jessica, and Flavia Frigeri, eds. The World Goes Pop. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2015.

Ribeiro, Marília Andrés, and Fernando Pedro da Silva. Teresinha Soares: Depoimento. Belo Horizonte, Brazil: C/Arte, 2011.

Ribeiro, Marília Andrés, and Teresinha Soares. "'Fiz do meu corpo a minha própria arte': Entrevista—Teresinha Soares." Revista UFMG 19 (January–December 2012): 130–39.