When Japanese-Brazilian artist Tomie Ohtake passed away in February, one of her last wishes went unfulfilled: unveiling a new sculpture on São Paulo’s main thoroughfare, Paulista Avenue. The nonprofit Associação Paulista Viva worked to make Ohtake’s dream a reality, and the untitled piece was unveiled this morning.
Conceived three years ago by Ohtake, the 7-ton, 8-meter (25.5-ft.) piece was molded at a steel plant from a 20-centimeter (7.7-inch) model crafted by the artist, its angular shape typical of her abstractionist work. Tomie Ohtake “thought it was important for public art to maintain a dialogue with the population and with the public space,” Ricardo Ohtake, the artist’s youngest son and director of the Tomie Ohtake Institute, told ABr. “So, this piece on Paulista will maintain a dialogue with the whole city, because everyone hangs out there.”
The original intent was to place the sculpture on the so-called Praça do Ciclista (“Bicyclists’ Square”) — a planted median that serves as a meeting point for bicycle enthusiasts. City planners nixed the idea in July, claiming the sculpture would get in the way of a planned bike path. In Early August, the plan commission green-lighted an alternative location for the piece — a planted median that, coincidentally or not, is right in front of the São Paulo headquarters of the financial institution that agreed to foot the bill for the installation and maintenance of the sculpture, Citibank.
Several other public pieces by Ohtake can be seen across São Paulo, including four panels at the Consolação subway station and a reinforced concrete sculpture on 23 de Maio Avenue, conceived as a tribute to the city’s large Japanese immigrant community.
Photos by Rovena Rosa/ABr