Frida Baranek is representative of the new generation of sculptors in Brazil who rose to prominence in the 1980s. Creating works that are studies in paradox and contrast, she is part of a strong intellectual vanguard in Brazilian art. She uses industrial debris to shape forms that juxtapose and reconcile opposite qualities such as heavy and light, solidity and stability, organic and industrial.
Baranek uses heavy tools, mechanical equipment, and discarded industrial materials to create large sculptures. She transforms leftover steel sheets and tubes, iron wire, and even airplane parts into abstract sculptures that seem to resemble forms found in the natural world. The organic appearance of industrial waste is not the only paradox evident in Baranek’s work. Despite the weight of her materials, her delicately woven grids of metal and the organic forms of her nest-like constructions, which often support or suspend even heavier pieces of metal debris, appear surprisingly light and airy. The apparent weightlessness of such heavy pieces and the use of line to define space characterize her work.
Baranek also explores certain social issues in her sculptures. By demonstrating that even industrial debris and other discarded materials can have meaning if reused and remade, Baranek’s sculptures lie at the crossroads of two important issues in our world today: environmentalism and recycling. These ideas are particularly important in her home country of Brazil. In the past forty years, this largest of South American countries has experienced immense changes related to rapid urbanization and industrialization. Baranek is one of a generation of artists who are using industrial materials and commenting on the health of Brazil’s environment and industrialization more generally.
Like many contemporary artists, Baranek is a “global citizen” of the world. Since the 1980s, she has lived and worked in São Paulo, Paris, Berlin, and New York City. Baranek has participated in many solo and group exhibitions, including the Venice Biennale and the São Paolo Bienal.
Parsons School of Design, New York, NY, USA (1984-1985)
Museu de Arte Moderna and Escola de Artes Visuais, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (1982-1984)
Universidade Santa Ursula, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (1978-1983)
Prize, Mid-America Arts Alliance Art, Kansas City, MO, USA (1991)
Prize, 10th National Competition of Art, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (1988)
Prize, 11th Carioca Competition, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (1987)