Exhibitions: Hugo França in Florida

Hugo França’s “Guaraci” chaise in pequi wood with woven leather, will be part of an exhibition of his work at the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Coral Gables, Florida. Photograph by Tuca Reinés, courtesy of R 20th Century.

“Hugo França merges the line between art and design,” says Cristina Grajales, the founder of the eponymous Manhattan gallery and an expert on 20th-century and contemporary design. Grajales is also the curator of an upcoming exhibition of Hugo França’s work at the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Coral Gables, Florida, part of the 2013–2014 Design at Fairchild season, itself a part of the annual Art at Fairchild exhibitions.

For Grajales, who curated a show last year at the garden, França’s work and background have an important aesthetic resonance along with a particular connection the South Florida area. “He works with trees that have fallen down, reclaiming them and giving them new life, transforming them and transforming them into beautiful shapes,” she explains. “In Florida, there’s a large group of Latin Americans and Brazilians living here, so we wanted to bring one of their own to be an artist at the Fairchild. Who better than França?”

For the exhibition, the pieces will be installed on the garden’s grounds (França’s work has been installed outdoors frequently in Brazil), allowing visitors to experience the objects in a setting outside of a gallery environment. Moreover, people will have the chance to sit on and otherwise physically interact with the pieces, allowing them a unique opportunity to add another dimension to their experience of França’s work. Grajales points out, “They can engage with them. Once you have the one-on-one relationship with a piece, it becomes an intimate relationship.”

With the World Cup and Olympics set for Brazil in the next few years, the exhibition is a great introduction to the design history of the country, which ranges from the legacy of Oscar Niemeyer to the Campana Brothers. “It’s wonderful to make people more aware of who Hugo França is and the work he does,” says Grajales. 

For more information on the exhibtion, opening December 1, visit Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden’s Web site

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