From the Rice Gallery:
Oliveira uses tapumes, which in Portuguese can mean “fencing,” “boarding,” or “enclosure,” as a title for many of his large-scale installations. The term makes reference to the temporary wooden construction fences seen throughout the city of São Paulo where Oliveira lives. It also refers to the weathered wood Oliveira uses as the primary material in his installations.
Early on, Oliveira experimented with the surfaces of his paintings by gluing newspaper onto a canvas and scraping it, or mixing sand with the paint. A breakthrough occurred while he was a student at the University of São Paulo, where for two years the view from his studio window was a wooden construction fence. Over time Oliveira began to see the deterioration of the wood and its separation into multiple layers and colors as similar to the process of painting. One week before the final student show opened, the construction was finished and the worn out plywood fence was discarded. Oliveira collected the wood and used it in his first installation.
Oliveira’s installations, which he refers to as “tridimensionals,” have evolved into massive, spatial constructions that combine painting, architecture, and sculpture. In some installations he uses walls as supports, attaching and shaping lengths of PVC tubing to create enormous, protruding forms over which he layers thin sheets of wood. In others, he arranges thousands of pieces of painted wood into gestural abstract “paintings” that spill off the wall into the viewer’s space. The constants in Oliveira’s work are the visual and tactile qualities of wood that has been exposed to the elements, and though he incorporates new, flexible plywood into his work, his primary material remains the discarded wood collected on the streets of São Paulo.