The word “tapumes,” in Brazilian Portuguese, means something like “fencing” or “boarding,” and it refers to the cheap, splintery plywood-like wood product used to create the cheapest homes in the country. Brazilian artist Henrique Oliveira often works with it, but his new installation, Transarquitetônica, may be the most stunning use of the material yet.
Installed at the Museu de Arte Contemporânea da Universidade in São Paulo, Transarquitetônica is Oliveira’s largest work to date. It consists of a huge framework that resembles the roots of some sprawling, otherworldly tree, with cheap tapumes nailed on the outside. The 1,600-square-meter structure is massive, so you can explore it from inside.
Oliveira says the work blends his early childhood with his young adulthood: When he moved from a village in the country to the big city, he saw wood being used in different ways. “Transarquitetônica” brings the wood full-circle–it takes the cheap, low-quality material and turns it into an organic, naturalistic arboreal structure.