20 1/8 x 23 5/8 inches
The Adolpho Leirner Collection of Brazilian Constructive Art, museum purchase with funds provided by the Caroline Wiess Law Accessions Endowment FundArts of Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean
As a member of the Grupo Frente (1954–56) and later the Neo-Concrete movement (1959–61), Hélio Oiticica explored ephemeral materials, multi-sensorial art, and spectator participation. Vermelho cortando o branco is part of Metaesquemas (1957–58), a series of grid-based compositions in which the artist virtually dissolves the two-dimensional plane and its surrounding frame. The series comprises more than 350 works and owes its name to the combination of the Portuguese words meta (beyond vision) and esquema (structure).
Oiticica considered Metaesquemas as something in between painting and drawing, or an evolution of painting beyond representation. The series involves an “obsessive dissection of space” by means of color, reduced to the horizontal and vertical play of monochromatic rectangles and squares that constantly defy the picture plane. The Metaesquemas depend on a “mirror effect”—that is, the inverted repetition of geometric configurations that plays with the eye of the beholder creating a highly dynamic perceptual field, which introduces ambivalence and disruption into the plane.