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The history of art exhibitions is an essential tool for understanding the history of art. The case of Bienal de São Paulo is especially singular, being that it was the first art biennial in a peripheral country in the southern hemisphere, where it provoked a unique local dynamic from 1951 on. The exhibition 30 x Bienal- Transformations in Brazilian Art from the 1st to 30th Edition seeks to verify the nexuses, contexts, relationships and processes that the artists and their works established as determining moments in the history of Bienal, and of Brazilian and international arts. Indeed, without Bienal’s uninterrupted routine, the formation of this modern and contemporary tradition which came about in a unique manner in the visual arts in Brazil--through contact and confrontation with international tendencies-- would have been quite unlikely—and which has, in turn, constructed the exhibition's own history. With each edition, Bienal has always served as a display of Brazil’s current artistic production. Thus, the positions of confrontation, relationships and approximations are inevitable. It was the event that broke the isolation of the visual arts and expanded its reach beyond that circle of members. As such, through the works and the artists included in the exhibit, as well as the critical writings in the catalog, the objective of 30 x Bienal is to demonstrate the transformations in Brazilian art that have occurred in the last 30 editions – from the controversy surrounding abstract art which dominated the 1950s, through to the New Figuration, experimentalism and the influx of Pop Art in the 1960s, the conceptual atmosphere of the 1970s, the return to painting in the 1980s and the so-called contemporary practices that emerged from the late 20th century on. In other words, the “Bienal effect” seen as a whole: a transformative process.

Paulo Venancio Filho