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Abraham Palatnik Op Art, Mobiles and Sculptures.

April 9, 2018

Abraham Palatnik is a Brazilian artist born in Natal, Brazil in 1928.

He says “my role as an artist is to discipline the chaos regarding information,” Abraham Palatnik organises the patterns in technology and nature into art, becoming a pioneer of the Op Art movement and the founder of the technological movement in Brazilian art. He trained as a painter, and moved away from the conventions of this medium and towards abstraction and technology in the late 1940s. He created his first “Kinechromatic Devices” in 1949, one of which, a motorized light sculpture which cast a play of light and shadow into space, was shown at the first Bienal de São Paulo (1951). It is said that Joan Miro, after seeing the kinechromatic devices at the 1964 Venice Biennial, traveled to the Hochschule Museum in Saint Gallen, Switzerland, where Palatnik was holding a one-person exhibition, and asked the director of the museum for an armchair to spend time contemplating these “ painting machines ”.

It was met with critical acclaim, as were the many optical experiments that followed.

These include abstract paintings on glass and compositions based on magnetic fields, to name only a handful of Palatnik’s ongoing investigations into art, technology, and perception itself.

Throughout his practice in over sixty years, Abraham’s work questions time, movement and the relationship of man to nature.

Abraham says ” In reality, all of nature’s physical forces are of interest to me. Magnetism is so fascinating that it could never have escaped my aesthetic curiosity and I’ve made some magnetic pieces. I sent a multiple of this piece to “The New Dimension of the Object,” a group show currently in exhibition at the University of Sao Paulo’s Museum of Modern Art, in Sao Paulo. It is an object that explores the nature of the positive and negative poles of magnets, in terms of attraction and repulsion. ”

Abraham’s other artistic flair is for designing Op Art acrylic animals. These are from the ‘Artemis Collection’ made in Brazil in the 1970s in a factory that Abraham opened and produced in until 2001. His early designs were inspired by cave drawings, geometric figures and irregularly shaped objects.

There were obviously quite a few, and many colourful variations too, this is a sample of three pages from an 8 page catalogue, listing all of the pieces !

You get a better idea from these larger scale pieces. I like their internal pattern.

I can’t discover how the pieces are formed but I’m guessing that the illustration is printed onto a clear film and then trapped between two sides of acrylic substance, thus creating a shape that from a distance appears to have greater volume in depth. The curve of the edges, makes the animal (and its illustrated lines, dots etc) optically distort, allowing it’s form to appear more 3-d.

Does anyone else remember having a kit called Plasticraft in the 1970’s which had chemicals that would make you high whilst you sat and made keyrings and trapped old coins or shells into see through resin !

Of course Abraham’s sculptures are a little more sophisticated lol.

There are some great shapes.

I particularly like the birds.

Such a variety of line and pattern.

Turning 90 this year, Abraham is still creating new art.

There’s a more detailed biography here.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 9, 2018 10:41 pm

    Thanks for another great introduction to an artist I was not aware of. I love his pieces inspired by magnetism and I agree with you about the glass birds being a delight. I had totally forgotten about Plasticraft until I saw the image embedded in your post. Blast from the past! I remember making all sorts of resin odds and ends. I seem to remember making a ring for my aunt out of tiny spiral shells.

    • April 10, 2018 8:10 am

      Thanks Laura, glad you remember Plasticraft too. How lethal were those fumes ! Wouldn’t be allowed today for children… what a lucky childhood we had eh!

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