In 2014, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao staged Ernesto Neto: The Body That Carries Me, a unique retrospective of this Brazilian artist. Born in Rio de Janeiro in 1964, Neto is considered to be one of Brazil’s greatest living artists, and he is internationally recognized for his mostly colossal biomorphic sculptures, created with translucent, stretchable polyamide fabrics, and sometimes filled with other materials.
In more than 25 years, Neto has created a large body of works that range from fine drawings to large-scale installations. He keeps his pieces open for people to interact with them, to walk inside, to inhabit, feel and even smell them, so that they can experience art through their bodies and senses. Visitors, however, must interact with his works with care, always bearing in mind that, just like the human body, they are fragile and delicate.
In the mid-nineties, Neto abandoned the geometric language of his early oeuvres to create sculptures of polyamide fabrics stuffed with Styrofoam balls, flour or spices. The resulting pieces resembled the human body and other living organisms.
White Bubble (2013/17) is based on one of the elements of Hyper Event Horizon, included in Neto’s 2014 exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. The artist reshaped and adapted it to the space created by Frank Gehry’s iconic architecture. The piece explores the limits of the human body, transforming the approach to art from visual into a multi-sensory moment while drawing the viewer’s attention to the purest sensations as perceived from the surfaces of the universe constructed by Neto. The artist intends for visitors to merge with the piece, encouraging them to experience the encounter as something that goes beyond and transforms them. Walking through it, the viewer feels how the translucent structure changes with their weight and the trace they leave behind is transformed by the marks of the human bodies coming later.
White Bubble constitutes a valuable exploration and reflection on the limits of the human body. In Neto’s exhibitions, the museum is transformed into a space for poetry: “We are constantly receiving information, but I want this to be a place where we stop thinking.”