Between the cities of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, in leafy Minas Gerais, lies Inhotim Art Park. An unorthodox art haven that houses the work of some of the world’s most celebrated artists, from Brazilians Hélio Oiticica and Adriana Varejão to the English conceptual artist Simon Starling.
Inhotim Art Park started as a 3000-acre ranch before being transformed into a private 5000-acre botanical park, designed by the illustrious landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx. It wasn’t until the park’s owner – controversial mining tycoon Bernardo Paz – was convinced to collect contemporary art by a friend that the park began to flourish into what it at the present day. Eventually Paz began to commission artists to create large, monumental pieces specifically for Inhotim, before opening the park to the public in 2006.
The tropical garden offers a divergent experience from most art establishments. It’s central South American location bestows it with a sense of the tropical, this is heightened by the occasional encounter with the exotic species that inhabit the land.
However, in a similar manner to much-endorsed biennales, the park is divided into pavilions, that organise the 500 pieces of modern art; and like a biennale, you may wish to visit the park several times as a means to absorb the works in all their distinction. A particularly imposing pavilion is in dedication to Brazilian artist, Adriana Varejão and encompasses her monumental, Panacea Phantastica, 2003 – 2008. Other pieces that hold the attention are Jorge Macchi’s Piscina, a conceptual sculpture of a pool with an address-book like set of steps, Edgard de Souza Untitled trio of bronze statues, and Cildo Meireles’ Red Shift I: Impregnation , a room installation adorned with deep red furniture.
It’s central South American location bestows it with a sense of the tropical, this is heightened by the occasional encounter with the exotic species that inhabit the land.
From sculpture and paintings to video and sound installations, the park hosts a well-considered concoction of abstract and conceptual pieces from international artists that coincide and complement the unparalleled melange of forest, mountain and botanical gardens that encompasses them.
Inhotim Art Park is a potent example of the nimble manner in which contemporary design and art are brought together in harmony, and with outstanding results in Brazil. The art of Inhotim Art Park doesn’t solely lie within the pieces of work scattered around the vast mass of land, but rather the park itself, and this is why it should be on the list on everyone visiting the country.