Five must-see Latin American shows

  • 4 July 2014

Is the World Cup giving you wanderlust? Travel from Mexico to Venezuela to Brazil with our five must-see Latin-American shows.

1. Made in Mexico: The Rebozo in Art, Culture and Fashion, The Fashion and Textile Museum, London, until 30 August. 50% off with National Art Pass

Popular among revolutionaries, artists, writers and collectors, the rebozo takes its name from a Castilian term which means to cover or protect yourself. The garment originated in Mexico during the early colonial period, when artisans hoped to emulate the embroidered shawls and mantillas of the Spanish. Today, most Mexican women own at least one rebozo and it is worn from birth to death – it functions as both a baby carrier as well as a shroud. The exhibition includes historic rebozos from the Franz Mayer Museum in Mexico City, as well as examples once owned by folk art academic Ruth D Lechuga, which are shown in the UK for the first time.

2. Serpentine Pavilion 2014: Designed by Smiljan Radić, Serpentine Gallery, London, until 19 October. Free to all

Chilean-born Radić is the 14th architect to take up the commission to design a pavilion for the Serpentine Gallery in Kensington Gardens – one of the few structures he has produced outside of his native country. White, translucent and made of fibreglass, he describes the structure as 'a fragile shell suspended on large quarry stones'. Its interior is organised around an empty patio with the natural setting appearing below, giving the sensation that the pavilion is floating. The semi-transparency of the shell has been envisioned so that at night 'the light will attract the attention of passers-by, like lamps attracting moths'. 

3. Pangaea: New Art From Africa And Latin America, Saatchi Gallery, London, until 2 November. Free to all

The exhibition's title, Pangaea, refers to the prehistoric landmass that conjoined Africa and Latin America, and the display includes examples of painting, photography, installation and sculpture drawn from across the two. While a few artists from Africa and Latin America have gained international acclaim, there are many more who remain virtually unknown. This timely exhibition reflects a growing interest in the art being produced in these regions, as well as a trend among UK museums to broaden their often Eurocentric collections. With representation from Colombia, Senegal, Brazil and other nations, the display reveals the shared experiences that continue to unite these peoples – such as rapid urban expansion, migration, and political and economic unrest – even many of thousands of years after their separation.

4. Radical Geometry: Modern Art of South America from the Patricia Phelps de Cisneros Collection, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 5 July – 28 September. Reduced price with National Art Pass

The exhibition spans a dynamic period in South American art, charting several distinct movements that emerged across the continent between the 1930s and 70s. Beginning with Uruguayan artist Joaquín Torres García's momentous return to Montevideo, where he founded the 'School of the South', the display encompasses the development of the Arte Madí and Arte Concreto-Invención movements, as well as the boundary-breaking work that came out of Brazil in the 1950s-60s. Among those featured are kinetic artists Jesús Soto and Carlos Cruz-Diez, whose work utilises optical illusion to respond to the lights of the tropics.

5. Gego: Line as Object, Henry Moore Institute, Leeds, 24 July – 19 October. Free to all

Born Gertrud Goldschmidt in Hamburg 1912, Gego emigrated to Caracas immediately after finishing her architectural studies in Stuttgart. She spent the rest of her life living and working in Venezuela, and in 1952 she was granted official citizenship. It was only after moving to Venezuela that Gego began practising as an artist. Beginning in 1957 and spanning up to 1991, the exhibition charts the evolution of her experimentation with the line. While she became known for creating large-scale nets, columns and spheres that filled gallery spaces, here a selection of her watercolours, ink drawings, prints and lithographs – similarly focused on the line – are also featured.