10 | La concentracion del cuerpo, 2007

In recent years Neto has created a series of sculptures in iron and wood that are inspired by a brand of children’s building toys from the 1960s. He’s fascinated by the idea of building a structure without nails or glue of any kind – of holding the structure together only with weights and balance. The possibilities have proved endless, and each project lays the groundwork for new projects.

Describing himself as a sculptor, Neto is concerned with how problems related to sculpture are constantly changing. He studies the raw materials used in antique artworks; Egyptian, Greek, Pre-Columbian Olmec and, not least, Aztec sculptures inspire him. He puts the antique material into non-traditional contexts, such as in the work O escultore a deusa from 1995, which shows a small antique figurine wedged between two lips. This kind of continuous fluctuation and playfulness is the precondition for many of Neto’s works. His will to experiment, to investigate apparently ordinary shapes, is something he shares with fellow Brazilian artist Lygia Clark, who, in the 1960s, created a series of works called Bichos. These were small sculptures made with thin metal plates, but without any discernable, final form. To the contrary, they could be folded and bent repeatedly, and the objective was for the public themselves to define the work in the moments of viewing. Clearly, the principle underlying Clark’s sculptures has been a spur for Neto. Yet it is also worth mentioning another modernistic artist, namely the American Alexander Calder. Calder is famed for his hanging mobiles. Neto has studied Calder’s works for many years, and in 2007 had the opportunity to use the deceased masters studio. After that experience, he began working with sculptures inspired by the children’s building set.

Today this series consists of works executed in wood and iron. Sizes vary; some sculptures are so large, they easily recall another American sculptor, the minimalist Richard Serra. There is a clear connection between Serra’s large, elegant sheets of iron that challenge the laws of gravity, and Neto’s sheets of wood that balance against each other, seemingly with the greatest of ease.