Sonia Gomes, To De Kooning, 2019. Mixed Media, 180 × 90 × 60 cm © Sonia Gomes; Courtesy of Mendes Wood DM São Paulo, Brussels, New York; Foto: Bruno Leão

Sonia Gomes - I rise

I’m a Black Ocean, Leaping and Wide
12 October 2019 – 08 March 2020


My work is black, it is feminine, and it is marginal. I‘m a rebel.

- Sonia Gomes

I Rise – I’m a Black Ocean, Leaping and Wide in Museum Frieder Burda, Baden-Baden and the Salon Berlin, is the first institutional exhibition in Europe of the work of Brazilian artist Sonia Gomes. Museum Frieder Burda’s Salon Berlin is presenting the first part of the exhibition until 22 February 2020. The second part, a cabinet exhibition, has just gone on show at Museum Frieder Burda in Baden-Baden.

Sonia Gomes’ biomorphic sculptures have an eerie, almost magical presence. Born in 1948 as the extramarital daughter of a white industrialist and a black woman, she grew up between two worlds. Gomes uses all kinds of found or gifted materials for her work, such as textiles, driftwood, furniture or wool, transforming them into sculptures or room-sized installations. Her works become vehicles for her own individualism, blending technical virtuosity and a materiality rooted in African folk art and spiritual traditions, a surreal language of form, Brazilian modernism and various currents of contemporary art.

The artist specially created the sculpture To De Kooning, 2019 as a treatment of one of the icons of Museum Frieder Burda, the painting Untitled XV by Willem de Kooning. Sonia Gomes’ choice of colors and the sculpture’s intricately intertwined twists and turns give rise to a fascinating dialogue between the two artworks.

The poetic title of the exhibition is inspired by passages from the poem Still I Rise by Maya Angelou (1928-2014). It is an anthemic protest against racism, sexual violence and the marginalization of black women and reflects the history of slavery. Having previously participated in the 56th Venice Biennale in 2015, Sonia Gomes now counts among the most influential artists in Brazil.

To accompany the exhibitions in Berlin and Baden-Baden, a catalogue will be published by Edition Cantz including installation shots as well as an introductory text about the artist, her life and work.