Madalena Santos Reinbolt: uma cabeça cheia de planetas [Madalena Santos Reinbolt: a Head Full of Planets], is the first solo exhibition devoted to the work of Madalena Santos Reinbolt (Vitória da Conquista, BA, 1919 – Rio de Janeiro, RJ, 1977). Although she has also produced paintings, the artist is acknowledged for her complex embroidery pieces made of hundreds of vibrant color lines—the so-called “wool paintings.” In them, Reinbolt depicted everyday life in the countryside and in the city, full of Black characters: meetings, festivities, celebrations, religiosities, and collective meals.
Santos Reinbolt grew up on a small farm with his family, where she learned about embroidery, weaving, ceramics, and painting in her childhood. In 1949, at the beginning of her adult life, she moved to Petrópolis, where she worked on the Samambaia farm, home of the architect Lota Macedo Soares (1910–1967) and her partner, the American poet and writer Elizabeth Bishop (1911–1979).
Although from an early age she practiced creative exercises, it was only in the 1950s that the artist began to devote herself to the production of paintings, drawing synthetic figures with expressive brushstrokes and using fragile supports, such as paper or straw, which showed the relevance of materiality in her work. At the end of the 1960s, Santos Reinbolt began producing her unique and trailblazing “wool paintings,” using 154 needles in different colors as a palette, which the artist handles as brushstrokes on oakum or canvas. In her work, the needle thus becomes an extension of the hand, like the brush in painting.
Despite her rich and unique production, Santos Reinbolt remained on the fringes of traditional art circuits of her time, and it was only in recent years that her work began to draw more attention. Even today museums and art spaces remain silent regarding the pioneering spirit of her production, something that MASP’s show intends to mitigate, proposing the debate around her history and contribution to Brazilian art.
Madalena Santos Reinbolt: uma cabeça cheia de planetas [Madalena Santos Reinbolt: a Head Full of Planets] gathers 44 works, including paintings and tapestry pieces, and is accompanied by a catalog devoted entirely to the artist, with unpublished images and essays.
The solo exhibition is part of MASP’s biennial program devoted to Histórias brasileiras [Brazilian Histories] (2021–22), on the occasion of the bicentennial of the Independence of Brazil in 2022. This year, the program also includes solo shows by Judith Lauand and Cinthia Marcelle.
Madalena Santos Reinbolt: uma cabeça cheia de planetas [Madalena Santos Reinbolt: a Head Full of Planets] is curated by Amanda Carneiro, Assistant Curator at MASP, and André Mesquita, Curator at MASP.