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Mendes Wood DM New York
October 14 - November 11, 2022

Mendes Wood DM New York presents an exhibition with works by the painter Maria Auxiliadora. Born in 1935 in Minas Gerais, Brazil, Auxiliadora lived and worked in São Paulo until her death in 1974. Her mixed media paintings depict scenes of daily life, often with elements of carnival, agrarian culture, romance, and her own experience with cancer.

Auxiliadora’s works show moments of community life in São Paulo. In particular, the Afro-Brazilian religions Candomblé and Umbanda as well as Orixá deities, are central to her work. Many of her paintings are wildly joyful yet still intimate and marked by gestures of affection. Her paintings communicate scenes of belief, romance, and the everyday from the lives of her friends and family, as well as reflections of the self. She used bright oil paints, plastic adhesive, and strands of her own hair in her practice, creating visual works from her own experiences and embodying them with her own being.

In 1981, The Museu de Arte de São Paulo (MASP) held Auxiliadora’s first large-scale museum exhibition. At the time, her work was considered peripheral, often discussed in terms of its difference from modernism and neo-concretism that dominated narratives of Brazilian art history at the time. In 2018, after nearly forty years out of the public eye, Auxiliadora was featured in a new solo exhibition at MASP, Maria Auxiliadora: Daily Life, Painting and Resistance.  

The works lend new perspective into marginalized cultures in Brazil as well as her personal experiences. Auxiliadora invites us to understand her works as a gesture of resistance and an embrace of Brazilian life.

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