35th Bienal de São Paulo
6 Set to 10 Dec 2023
Free Admission
35th Bienal de
São Paulo
6 Set to 10 Dec
Exhibition view of the work Rewe Rashūiti of MAHKU during the 35th Bienal de São Paulo – choreographies of the impossible © Levi Fanan / Fundação Bienal de São Paulo


Since it was founded in 2013 by Isaías Sales (Ibã), Txaná of the Huni Meka chants, and his sons Acelino, Bane, and Maná, the Movimento dos Artistas Huni Kuin [Huni Kuin Artist Movement] has been establishing a unique iconography whose formal solutions can be swiftly identified. Characterized by the presence of human and non-human figures which are integrated by a complex graphic plot that reflects the structure of body paintings while reserving small areas of intense colors, MAHKU painting dispenses with Western codifications: it renounces mimesis, perspective, the rules of proportion, and canonical technique, to commit itself solely to the forces of miração, the visionary experiences stimulated by the ingestion of ayahuasca during nixi pae rituals. The paintings may also present translations of mythical narratives and ancestral stories, described in the ritual chants, whose shared aspect is the living presence of the entities of nature and the relationship of continuity between them. The result of these procedures is a combination of forms and colors, which rekindles the problem of movement in painting, shifting it from the terrain of illustration to that of inner experience (which Ibã calls ‘spiritual art’), and seeks to account for the different rhythms of narration of the myths in the chants.

In Huni Kuin iconography, the area of imprecision between dream and myth is often indicated by a frame that adapts to the worked surface, granting the story autonomy and assuring its free manifestation. In the perimeter of miração, there are no hierarchies between the represented entities, and the fracture between abstraction and figuration loses all meaning. What we find is the result of an image-process, made by many hands, from the dialog and learning between those involved, whose ultimate goal is healing, both for those who made it and for the observer who accesses it, transforming it into a spiritual experience.

renato menezes
translated from Portuguese by philip somervell

MAHKU (Movimento dos Artistas Huni Kuin), founded in 2013, is an artists’ collective based between the municipality of Jordão and the village Chico Curumim, in the Kaxinawá Indigenous Land of the Jordão River, state of Acre, Brazil. The collective is a major player in the Brazilian contemporary art scene and is composed of artists Ibã Huni Kuin, Bane Huni Kuin, Mana Huni Kuin, Acelino Tuin and Kássia Borges.