Q + A with curator Dinah P. Guimaraens on Jay Milder

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Jay Milder in front of the title signage for his retrospective at the National Museum of Republic, Brasilia curated by Dinah P. Guimaraens

Dinah P. Guimaraens, Ph.D. ICOM Member n. 21759-REG IND BR. (International Council of Museums/UNESCO), is a curator of contemporary visual arts; Associate Director at the Museum of Art and Origins, NYC; professor in the graduate program of Architecture and Urbanism, University Federal Fluminense/UFF; and Advanced Researcher at Graduate Program in Museum Studies, University Federal of Rio de Janeiro/UFRJ. Her publications include: Kitsch Suburban and Rural (1979, 2006), Architecture of Motels (1980-2007), and Museum of Art & Origins. She has a Doctorate in Social Anthropology at Graduate Program of Social Anthropology, UFRJ; Postdoctoral Fellow in Anthropology at University of New Mexico. Dinah is certified by Museum Studies Program, Graduate School of Arts and Science, NYU (Fulbright Advanced Scholar), and joined the staff of the Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York. Dinah has introduced Jay Milder’s art to an widespread audience across Brazil and curated several retrospectives on Milder in Brazil’s top museums. Below is a Q + A between Dinah P. Guimaraens and myself about Jay Milder.

AZ How did you meet Jay Milder?

DPG I met the artist at the City College of New York. I was introduced by Professor George Nelson Preston, who was responsible for my Ph.D. at New York University/ Fulbright Scholarship at the Metropolitan Museum of Art of New York.

AZ What drew you to his work?

DPG The characterization of North American art as gesture-oriented, abstract and expressive that was deliberately ignored until the 1980 ́s. Jay Milder ́s work brings to the surface his interior by digging in the rich territory of unconscious, thus revealing an intriguing non- formalist composition and cabalistic ritualism.

AZ You have curated major Jay Milder retrospectives throughout Brazil. Can you tell me about each of these exhibitions and where they were held?

DPG In the 1990’s and 2000’s his work was admired as retrospective shows in international museums of Brazil. These included the National Museum of Fine Arts-MNBA, Rio de Janeiro; and the Museum of Modern Art of Rio de Janeiro-MAM-RJ; and the Museum of Modern Art, Salvador, Bahia and the National Museum of Republic, Brasília. These exhibitions focused on the evolution of his figurative animism in the 1960’s to the 1980’s to the vivid colors and the kabalistic numerology of his present work. His paintings were based on a philosophical thinking and a circular space, and an analogical perspective and geometric forms that compose chakras (fluxes of cosmic energy), which could cure the spirit through placement and quality and quantity of colors.

AZ What was the response from the Brazilian public to Jay Milder’s painting?

DPG Jay Milder’s exhibitions have received many positive reviews in Brazil, including articles in newspapers, magazines and the Internet, and the Brazilian public is still thrilled with his spiritual, powerful paintings. Coming from the gestural painting, his work discloses an ecological concept that opposes itself to the western construction of fragmentation. His spiritual research reveals not only the intuitive application of rhythmic order, but also experimentation with elements and materials; and the cabalistic geometry is used by the artist as a mathematical system and a structural and alchemical reference as well.

AZ Jay has been noted as a major influence on street art especially in Sao Paulo, one of the largest centers for street art in the world. What do you feel connects Jay’s work to this vibrant street art movement?

DPG Jay Milder had a highly successful first exhibition in Sao Paulo, inaugurated on October 2, 2009 at Gallery Romero Britto. On this occasion, he created a graffiti mural along with Eduardo Kobra, which was featured on the first page of the newspaper Folha de São Paulo: “American artist Jay Milder graffiti in SP: Jay Milder, one of graffiti precursors in New York, considered one of the greatest American expressionists, was today  (9/10) graffiting a wall at Avenida Rebouças in SP. Following the “lord street art” was the artist Eduardo Kobra, considered one of the top names in street art today”.

AZ How did the commission for Jay to paint a mural on Avenida Rebouças come into fruition?

DPG As the curator of the show at Galeria Romero Briito, I had the idea of inviting the artist Eduardo Kobra to paint a joint-mural with Jay Mider in Sao Paulo in 2009. Roberta Britto, owner of the gallery Romero Britto in Sao Paulo, established the contacts with Eduardo Kobra for painting the graffiti mural.

AZ Is the mural still up today?

DPG Yes, the mural continues to be shown at Kobra ́s street open studio in Sao Paulo.

AZ Are there any Brazilian artists working today that you would compare Jay Milder to?

DPG I can name Rubens Gerchman and Jorginho Guinle, both deceased, as two very important Brazilian expressionists that can be compared with Milder ́s figurative expressionist work. Luiz Áquila da Rocha Miranda is another artist with the same influence of North American gestural painting.


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