Marina Francisco: Brazil’s art-world outpost 

Creative director Marina Francisco was born in Sao Paulo but lived all over the world. In 2009 she moved to London where she’s worked as a creative director for a host of big names in the fashion business including Prada, Bottega Veneta and, most recently, Burberry. She told us about an out-of-the-way art foundation in Brazil that’s up there with the best in the world

I’ve had three major memorable art experiences in my life. The first was the Judd Foundation in Marfa, Texas. The second was Naoshima island in Japan. And the third was Inhotim, the open-air art foundation in Brazil. It’s in the countryside outside Belo Horizonte, which is a city known for its craft and artistry, and was set up by a local collector, Bernardo Paz.

He commissioned the famous Brazilian landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx, who worked with Oscar Niemeyer, to create the site and it’s a perfect marriage of brilliant artworks, fantastic architecture and beautiful botanical gardens.

The foundation is full of works from artists from all over the world, including Yayoi Kusama, Matthew Barney and Steve McQueen, as well as lots of work by the best Brazilian artists including Cildo Meireles and Adriana Varejão, who has her own dedicated building. Her work explores the Portuguese colonisation of Brazil through installations, paintings and ceramics, and it’s incredibly visceral and moving.

You explore the enormous site in little golf buggies and even then you need at least two or three days to do it properly. The great joy of it is experiencing these amazing artworks surrounded by nature. There are bits that have been manicured, but it’s a part of the country that’s hot and wet so the vast majority of the site is wild and tropical with huge trees. There are endless new corners to discover and the whole site is respectfully integrated into the local eco-system. This in itself is a true labour of love.


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