Rodrigo Braga is a Brazilian artist who uses animals and the natural world as his medium of expression. He often performs bold, if not grotesque acts in rural landscapes and then photographs or film them.
Braga’s work is rooted in the conflict between the human and animal. He frequently utilizes the organicity of nature as his subject and explores landscape as a way to confront humans with the rawness of life.
He has exhibited at various museums and galleries throughout the world, and his work is now in the collection of the Modern Art Museum of Sao Paulo and the Maison Europeene de la Photographie in Paris. He has also been featured in the 30th Bienal de Sao Paulo and other group exhibitions such as ‘From the Margin to the Edge’, Somerset House, London; ‘Reflected Mirror’, Centro Cultural Helio Oiticica, Rio de Janeiro and ‘In Praise of Vertigo’, Maison Europeene de la Photographie, Paris.
For his most recent piece, ‘Inland Sea’ for the Palais de Tokyo, funded by SAM Art Projects, Braga collected forty-five stones from French quarries and placed them in a shallow pool on the esplanade adjacent to the Palais de Tokyo and Musee d’Art Moderne in Paris.
The artist has a long history of body art that pulls from nature as its primary source. He has exhibited works such as the 2004 series ‘Fantasia de Compensacao’ (Compensation Fantasy), which saw him surgically stitching a dog’s facial features onto a silicone mold of his own face.
In many of his performances, Braga embodies the contrast between the exuberance of tropical vegetation and the stench of decomposing flesh – metaphors for the cycle of life – in strikingly hyper-realist ways. In ‘Fantasia de Compensacao’, for example, he had a veterinary surgeon sew the ears, muzzle and eyebrows of a dead dog to a silicone mold of his own face.
This gruesome act attracted a great deal of criticism and has been the subject of hate mail from animal protection organizations. Braga later retreated from that line of work, and began creating more introspective pieces that focus on his relationship with nature.
As his work developed, Braga found a balance between the natural and the manmade. His work reflected the aesthetic of Joseph Beuys, who often used animals and the natural world to create his work.