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Brazilian art space Galeria Nara Roesler encompasses three locations—one in Sāo Paolo, Rio de Janeiro, and New York City. Recently, the U.S. space relocated from the Upper East Side to Chelsea. Along with the move, it invited Brazilian design studio Bloco Gráfico to reimagine its visual identity.
Inaugurating the new location, the gallery opens this week with a multi-part exhibition titled “Cross-Cuts” (on view through February 13), organized by the former MoMA curator Luis Perez-Oramas. To learn more about the gallery’s fresh identity, the change in scenery, and what they’re looking forward to in 2021, Whitewall spoke to the gallery’s Daniel Roesler.
WHITEWALL: What prompted you to move your New York space from the Upper East Side to Chelsea? Tell us about the new gallery.
DANIEL ROESLER: We wanted to provide our artists with more space to show their work in New York and after an extensive search we found this blank slate more than four times the footprint we had in the Upper East Side—high ceilings, on street level, in the heart of Chelsea.
I think Chelsea will continue to be the main gallery hub in the city and will be strengthened by the renewed presence of the Dia Art Foundation one block away from our space. The new gallery will bring a different perspective to the local scene, a global perspective rooted in a southern hemisphere, more specifically Brazilian, point of view. I hope it will enrich the conversation.
WW: Along with the new space, you’ve had Bloco Grafico help to revamp your visual identity. Tell us about this look—how did you incorporate the gallery’s original identity into a fresh style?
DR: We decided this would be a good moment to make changes [to] our visual identity as we are consolidating a few different programs like our publishing activities and the Roesler Hotel curatorial program under the same Nara Roesler roof. For that, the gallery commissioned Bloco Grafico with the challenge to evolve the identity we very much cherished, created in 2008 by one of the most influential Brazilian designers of recent years: André Stolarski / Studio Tecnopop.
WW: Do you think the material and programming on view in your Chelsea gallery will call for a different approach from the UES gallery, based on the feel of the space and the neighborhood?
DR: Absolutely. We will be able to be more adventurous with our artists, to go deeper in the presentation of the oeuvres of our historical figures, and to explore connections, evident or unexpected, among them and other artists.
WW: You’ve inaugurated the Chelsea gallery with an exhibition called “Cross-cuts,” curated by Luis Pérez-Oramas. Can you tell us what to expect from the show and why it felt like the right exhibition to open the new space?
DR: “Cross-Cuts” will present five different focused installations, each one lasting a week, for five weeks. This will give us a crash course on working with our new space. It will also present some of the diversity from our roster ranging from solo presentations of two of the important estates we represent—Antonio Dias and Tomie Ohtake—to rich conversations between works of two or three artists.
Expect to see visual discussions about the intertwining of art and politics; the resilience of figurative and post-expressionist contemporary painting; ideas on drawing and sculpture within the context of landscape and architecture in the post-industrial context. Also, expect to see a dialogue around a shared interest for the notion of public space: its practice, its image, its politics, its aesthetics. And get ready to be introduced to the final body of work of an artist that bridged the cultures of Japan and Brazil, produced when she was already 101 years old.
WW: What kind of crossover happens between your Brazilian galleries and the New York space? Do you typically share the same artists in all three cities?
DR: Each city has a different program that is developed from the pool of artists we represent but not limited to that. We are working on having our Rio space, for instance, transformed into a curatorial lab for the most part of 2021. New York is going to be mostly developed for our artists that have yet to be shown here.
WW: 2020 has been a crazy year, and yet it seems you’ve been able to make the most of it. What are your hopes for Nara Roesler in 2021?
DR: Yes, 2020 has been crazy and we mourned the passing of friends including one of our most beloved and important artists Abraham Palatnik, due to COVID. However, we believe the crisis will come to an end and that art will continue to be important and best experienced in real life, in a gallery.
We cannot think of a better place to have a gallery than New York, with its tremendous cultural infrastructure, so we have spent the pandemic working to make sure we would be ready when the health crisis is over. It is not there yet, but we are now ready to open in accordance with safety guidelines and we will use this new, expanded space to advance our conversation with the city's large and passionate art community.