José Leonilson

Empty Man


José Leonilson (1957–1993) came of age as an artist during the 80s generation in Brazil. What he shared with this diverse artistic milieu was the so-called ʻjoy of painting,ʼ rediscovered in the years following the end of Brazilʼs dictatorship.

What separated him from his contemporaries was his personal way of working and his distinct aesthetic centred on raw emotional feelings, introspective musings, and private affairs.

Focusing on Leonilsonʼs production as a mature artist, the catalogue will feature approximately fifty paintings, drawings, and intimate embroideries made between the mid -1980s until 1993, when the artist died of AIDS.

This short yet prolific period showcases the artist’s fully developed language, connecting his oeuvre with contemporary art practices, Brazilian vernacular traditions, and global issues prompted by the AIDS crisis.

Published on the occasion of the exhibition, José Leonilson: Empty Man at the Americas Society, New York (27 September 2017 – 3 February 2018).

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