Born in Fão, Portugal, in 1941, Ascânio has been living and working in Rio de Janeiro since 1959. His formal education includes the Escola Nacional de Belas Artes [National School of Fine Arts] between 1963 and 1964 and the Architecture and Urbanism College at Rio de Janeiro’s Federal University (FAU/UFRJ) from 1965 to 1969, where he graduated. He worked as an architect until 1976.
Ascânio started developing his artistic work in 1966, when he was still at the Architecture and Urbanism College in Rio de Janeiro, and later along with his work
as an architect. In that same year he showed his work for the first time to the public,
at the Salão de Abril at Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro [April Exhibition
at Rio de Janeiro’s Modern art Museum]. The Caixas [Boxes] – wooden cubes on which the spectator can move different sized squares, making diverse drawings –
are from this period.
The relationship among sculpture, Mathematics and Philosophy became a central matter in his work during the 1970s. In this period, from an axis, he explored progressions in vertical and horizontal twists, using wooden slats painted in white.
In the 1980s, with reliefs and sculptures Fitangulares, he became interested in raw wood; white, light and shadow were not the main issue anymore. He began to explore different kinds of wood and their natural colors (cedar, mahogany, and other South American woods such as salmwood, Ipê and Pau-marfim). In the late 1980s he made the first Piramidais in wood.
In the 1990s, working with great dimensions became a core matter to Ascânio, and the research on aluminum profiles intensified. Aluminum became, thus, the basis for the creation of new works, always using a module. This phase’s sculptures are characterized by aluminum tubes cut into rectangles, which generate great dimension sculptures with hollows and sequences of transparencies and opacities, making them almost immaterial depending on the viewer’s position.
In the 2000s Ascânio develops Flexos e Qualas. In the first works, the bolts used on Piramidais were replaced by stainless steel wire that tied the centimeter tubes together, making a flexible mesh. In Qualas the wire was replaced by rings, resulting in a mesh “that crosses the sight, the light, the wind”.
In the 2010s, with Quasos, Ascânio remains focused on aluminum and its possibilities, and starts reversing the traditional logic behind the use of bolts. These works have twists and bends that result from the deconstruction of the geometric mesh, introducing the matter of unpredictability into his works. Color was used again,
but in a subtle way.
Ascânio’s artistic production was the object of study and critical analysis by Paulo Herkenhoff in the book Ascânio MMM: Poética da Razão [Ascânio MMM: The Poetics of Reason] (BEĨ publishing, 2012). In 2005 Ascânio MMM (Andrea Jakobsson publishing, 2005) was published with passages by Paulo Sergio Duarte, Lauro Cavalcanti, Fernando Cocchiarale e Marcio Doctors.
The artist’s work is in important public and private art collections in Brazil and abroad, and has been exhibited at the São Paulo Biennial (1967 and 1979) and at Panorama da Arte Brasileira [Panorama of Brazilian Art] (1970, 1972, 1975 e 1985), among other important collective and individual exhibitions, such as: MAM RJ, Paço Imperial, Palácio das Artes, Dominique Lévy Gallery, Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Buenos Aires, Argentina; MAR - Museu de Arte do Rio, Rio de Janeiro; Instituto Valenciano de Arte Moderno, Valência (Spain); Panorama da Arte Brasileira in 2008, MAM SP, Arte como Questão - Anos 70, Tomie Ohtake Institute, São Paulo, Itaú Cultural Institute, São Paulo, I Mercosul Biennial, Porto Alegre (RS), MAC SP, Barbican Center, London, MASP SP, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon, among others.
Fundação Edson Queiroz [Edson Queiroz Foundation], Fortaleza, Brasil
Gilberto Chateaubriand, Rio de Janeiro
Sérgio Fadel, Rio de Janeiro
Itaú Cultural, São Paulo
Ronaldo César Coelho (Instituto São Fernando [São Fernando Institute]),
Rio de Janeiro
Coleção Roberto Marinho [Roberto Marinho Collection], Rio de Janeiro
Manuel de Brito, Lisbon, Portugal
Norman Foster, London, United Kingdom
Ron Dennis, London, United Kingdom
Padma Vattikuti, Miami, USA
Selected Public Collections
Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Buenos Aires [Buenos Aires Contemporary Art Museum], Argentina
Museu de Arte do Rio [Rio Art Museum] – MAR, Rio de Janeiro
Museu de Arte do Rio Grande do Sul [Rio Grande do Sul Art Museum] – MARGS, Porto Alegre, Brazil
Museu de Arte Contemporânea da Universidade de São Paulo [São Paulo University Contemporary Art Museum] – MAC, São Paulo
Museu de Arte Moderna [Modern Art Museum], São Paulo
Museu de Arte Moderna [Modern Art Museum], Rio de Janeiro
Museu Nacional de Belas Artes [National Fine Arts Museum], Rio de Janeiro
Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo [State of São Paulo Art Gallery]
Museu Oscar Niemeyer [Oscar Niemeyer Museum] - MON, Curitiba
Selected Public Works
Rio de Janeiro
Centro Empresarial Rio [Rio Business Center] – Praia de Botafogo, 228, Botafogo
GlaxoSmithKline Headquarters - Estrada dos Bandeirantes, 8464, Vargem Grande
Royalty Barra Hotel – Avenida do Pepê, 690, Barra da Tijuca
Royalty Hotel – Rua Tonelero 154, Copacabana
Rio de Janeiro City Hall - Rua Afonso Cavalcanti, 455, Cidade Nova
Daniel Maclise Building - Rua Cosme Velho, 415, Cosme Velho
Praça da Sé, Centro
Jardim da Luz, Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo
Nissin Building – Tokio, Japan
Caixa Geral de Depósitos Headquarters – Lisbon, Portugal
Largo do Cortinhal – Fão, Portugal