Gretta Sarfaty Marchant

Brazil 1954

Installation, Performance Art, Photography

Gretta Sarfaty Marchant
Gretta Sarfaty Marchant
December 30, 2014

Gretta Sarfaty Marchant, also known as Gretta Sarfaty Grzywacz, was born in 1954 in Athens and named Alegre Sarfaty from parents of Italian, Greek and Turkish origin. When she was seven years old, she moved to Brazil. At the age of 17 she married José Grzywacz. Her first artworks she started creating when she was 25.

Gretta has earned international acclaim as a feminist performance artist. Alongside her artistic practice she was the founder of the project-led space, Sartorial Contemporary Art (2005–2010) and since 2010 has been running a family trust the Alegre Sarfaty Collection. Throughout her career Gretta Sarfaty exhibited mainly in São Paulo, New York and London. In the 70’s she participated in numerous solo shows in Brazil displaying her early paintings. Her world travels and mixed background has had an important influence on her more contemporary visual work, particularly her photography and collages which deal in themes of identity and culture, although her art is not restricted just to the canvas. Gretta’s work embraces a wide range of media including installation, photography, video, paintings and performance.

At the beginning of the 70’s she started creating the series of paintings, Metamorphosis and her work was noted by the Brazilian gallerist, Franco Terranova. In 1983 she created a series of paintings with a book, dedicated to the Brazilian culture, Self-Portrait of Brazil. This series of photos from 1976 is one of the first Gretta’s artworks dedicated to female identity and its various demonstrations. The artist’s face appears in sequences of beauty and ugliness, grace and madness. Another work from 1976, A Women’s Diary where the artist uses the medium of photography to create a diary of her own body, captured in almost abstract poses. The way that the body appears on the photos calls into question its materiality. In 1979 she performed Evocative Recollections in Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, as well as in Pallazzo di Diamanti di Ferrara, Italy. This performance was then showed in different locations in Belgium, Brazil and Italy. Under the same title, Evocative Recollections, Gretta continued the topic of female body and, so-called, women’s liberation in the series of photos from 1980–1981. During the late 1970s Gretta began to shuttle between Europe and Brazil, showing in group and solo exhibitions in most of the important European art capitals. The work was intended to be an objective and representative image of the country without any political connotations. She quickly came to the realization that few people knew anything about her country. This discovery combined with her belief that Brazilians do not value their own culture highly enough, lead her on a single-minded effort to capture the spirit of Brazil in a series of portraits depicting the 50 most prominent and legendary people of Brazil, at that time. Self Portrait of Brazil (1981–1983) was exhibited in 1983, in Museu de Arte de São Paulo, Brazil and published as a book accompanying the exhibition. In 1983 she moved to New York and after a traumatic event, the fire in the Hotel Chelsea, she decided to begin a collaboration with American video and performance artists InterComm group. During that time she also started to discover the Kabbalah esoteric thought. She became friends with Simon Jacobson and Kenny Vance and she decided to picture the Kabbalah community in her paintings Kabbalah, 1984–1985. At that time she also created a performance, Goya Time (1985) and a video, My Single Life in New York (1987). In the late 80′ and early 90′ she created a photographic series of Body Works, where naked bodies constitute a denunciation of the hedonistic and alienating practices to which the female form is submitted, a denunciation of the repression and mystification to which women’s education exposes them from every direction. In 1995 she moved to London and married Richard Marchant, one of the greatest Chinese porcelain connoisseurs. She continued creating photography related to questions of femininity and identity. Woman as a central artistic subject appears not only in her auto-portraits but also in the series of paintings dedicated to an issue of female identity and body, Reflections of a Woman (1997) that were exhibited in the Wolseley Fine Arts, London, in 1997. In the period from 2003 to 2005 Gretta created photographic collages titled Myth of Womanhood. The title itself is a provocative statement by the artist in relation to the Female versus Feminism issue, and how the use and abuse of that subject has now become a cliché. The series comprises of one photographic image which is duplicated several times to form a stimulating kaleidoscopic final picture. Her latest work consists of two series, Familia Memorabilis that presents several snap-shots that preserve specific moments of the artist’s personal life and Wedding Pictures that capture the flow of “real time”, reviewing the photo album of Gretta’s first wedding. Each page is transformed into digital format, assembled into pairs so as to create a single image.

Gretta has curated several shows at Sartorial Contemporary Art including Notting Heaven (2008), Mothers (2008), Remember My Name (2008), Burning Candy (2008), Obsession (2006) and Water (2006). Along with Jasper Joffe and Harry Pye she has been a co-editor of The Rebel magazine. She has also exhibited in the show Bad Girls (2010), together with Marina Abramović, Annette Messager, Orlan and Gina Pane.

Gretta Sarfaty Marchant currently lives and works in London, São Paulo and New York.

YearExhibition TitleGallery/MuseumSolo/Group 
2012LIBRISTE DALLA COLLEZIONE DI LIBRI D’ARTISTA di Marco CarminatiIstituzione Biblioteca Classense, Ravenna ItalyGroup
2012A NEW HISTORY OF LATIN AMERICA FotoGrafica Gretta Auto-Photos - Le Bal, ParisGroup
2011 ARTE COMO REGISTRO, REGISTRO COMO ARTE (performance with film)Museu Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo, BrazilSolo
2011PERFORMATIVE Jake and Dinos Chapman, Nicola Ruben Montini and Gretta SarfatySartorial Contemporary Art, LondonGroup
2010THROUGH A GLASS DARKLY (photos, performance). Film by Gordon BeswickSartorial Contemporary Art, LondonSolo
2010SESC Colecao de Arte BrasileirasCanto das Artes, Prefeitura de Sao Paulo, BrasilGroup
2008GRETTA 'S PROGRESS (photos, performance with catalogue)Leeds College of Art & Design, UKSolo
2008AGAIN AND AGAIN Gretta & Mister SoloEast London College of Art, LondonGroup
2008BLACK HISTORY MONTHLewisham Library. Curated by Harry Pye , LondonGroup
2007Notting HeavenSartorial Contemporary Art, LondonGroup
2007 NOTTING HEAVENSartorial Contemporary Art. Curated by Jasper Joffe, LondonGroup
2007THE THURSTON REVIVALSartorial Contemporary Art with 'The Record of the Day', London Group
2006ObsessionSartorial Contemporary Art, LondonGroup
2006Half LifeFieldgate Gallery, LondonGroup
2006X-RAYPerseverance, LondonSolo
2006OBSESSIONSartorial Contemporary Art. Curated by Robin Mason, London.Group
2006LONDON BIENNALE IN ARCADIACurated by Jill Rock – Arcadia London, UKGroup
2006HALF LIFEFieldgate Gallery, LondonGroup
2006PEOPLE LIKE US (with publication)Nomoregrey Gallery, LondonGroup
2006BODYNOBODYMilan, ItalyGroup
2005Current VisionSartorial Contemporary Art, LondonGroup
2005THE OH HOUSE & NIGHT ON EARTHThe Oxford House. Curated by Harry Pye, London Group
2005ART IN MINDLa Viande Gallery, London Group
2004SOULMATESSartorial Contemporary Art, LondonGroup
2003LIFE WORKS473 Broadway Gallery, New York, USA Solo
2002MYTH OF WOMANHOOD & YOUTH VERSUS GRAVITY (with catalogue) Sartorial Contemporary Art, The Courtauld Institute of Arts, London Solo
1999THE WORLD OF HORSERACING (with catalogue)The National Horseracing Museum of Newmarket, UK Solo
1999THE WORLD OF HORSERACING (with catalogue) Wolseley Fine Arts, LondonSolo
1997REFLECTIONS OF A WOMAN (with catalogue) Wolseley Fine Arts, LondonSolo
1993BODY WORKS (performance and photos with catalogue)Foster Goldstrom Gallery, New YorkSolo
1993BODY WORKS (with catalogue)Jansen-Perez Gallery, Los Angeles and San Antonio, Texas Solo
1993BODY WORKS & SOHO SCENES (with catalogue)Escritório de Arte Renato Magalhães Gouveia, Sao Paulo, BrasilSolo
1988BODY WORKS & EVOCATIVE REINCARNATIONS (with catalogue)Keith Green Gallery, NYCSolo
1988EUROPA FRANCA & BAHIAMuseu da Imagem e do Som and Museu Paco das Artes.Solo
1988Gretta's retrospective of 15 years of works (with catalogue)Sao Paulo, BrazilSolo
1988Europa, França e Bahia, Gretta Sarfaty, Paço das Artes, SP. Vídeo, Info-arte, pinturas, gravuras, Arte PostalCentro Cultural São Paulo, BrazilSolo
1987BIENAL INTERNATIONAL DE PINTURA 87Museo de Arte Moderna, Cuenca, Equador Group
1987BIENAL DEL AUTO-RETRATOlnstituto Cultural Dominican Republic. Group
1986BODY WORKS (with catalogue)Galeria Sao Marcos, Brasília, BrasilSolo
1984TRUMP TOWERAmazoni Gallery, New YorkGroup
1983SELF PORTRAIT OF BRAZIL (with book)Museu de Arte de São Paulo, BrazilSolo
1983SELF PORTRAIT OF BRAZILMuseu Nacional de Belas Artes, Rio de Janeiro, BrazilSolo
1983EVOCATIVE RECOLLECTIONS (with catalogue)Galeria A. Niemeyer, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Solo
1981EVOCATIVE RECOLLECTIONS (with catalogue)Galleria Multimedia, Brescia, ItalySolo
1981EVOCATIVE RECOLLECTIONS (with catalogue)Centro de Arte Euro-Americano, Caracas Solo
1981EVOCATIVE RECOLLECTIONS (with catalogue)Galeria Singular, Porto Alegre, BrasilSolo
1981EVOCATIVE RECOLLECTIONS (with catalogue)Galerie B14, Stugart Germany Solo
1980EVOCATIVE RECOLLECTIONS & TRANSFORMATIONS (performance with catalogue)Internationaal Cultureel Centrum (ICC), Antewerp , Belgium Solo
1980EVOCATIVE RECOLLECTIONS (with catalogue)Galleria La Filanda, Veranno, BrianzaSolo
1980EVOCATIVE RECOLLECTIONS (with catalogue)Galeria de Arte Parnaso - Brasilia, BrasilSolo
1980EVOCATIVE RECOLLECTIONS & TRANSFORMATIONS (with catalogue)Museu de Arte Contemporanea (MAC), Sao Paulo, BrasilSolo
1980TRANSFORMATIONSGalleria Arte Verso, Genova , ItalySolo
1980TRANSFORMATIONSGaleria A. Niemeyer, Rio de Janeiro, BrasilSolo
1980ESPACES LIBRESMusée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, France Group
1980MULTIMEDIA INTERNATIONAL, USPUniversidade de São Paulo, BrasilGroup
1980TRIENAL LATINO AMERICANO DE GRABADOCentro de Arte y Comunicacion, Buenos AiresGroup
1979EVOCATIVE RECOLLECTIONS (performance with catalogue)Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris Solo
1979EVOCATIVE RECOLLECTIONS (performance, video with catalogue) Pallazzo di Diamanti di Ferrara, ItalySolo
1979TRANSFORMATIONSGalleria Diagramma, MilanoSolo
1979TRANSFORMATIONSGalerie Papala, Karlsruhe , GermanySolo
1979TRANSFORMATIONSGaleria Andre Sigaud, Rio de Janeiro, BrasilSolo
197929ème SALON JEUNE PEINTUREMusée du Palais du Luxembourg, Paris, France Group
1978TRANSFORMATIONS (with catalogue)Galeria Bonfiglioli, Sao Paulo, Brasil Solo
1977SALON DE MAI Paris, FranceGroup
1976METAMORPHOSIS (with catalogue)Galeria de Arte Global. Curated by Franco Terranova, SPSolo
1974METAMORPHOSISPetite Galerie, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Solo
1973METAMORPHOSISGaleria Documenta (with catalogue), Sao Paulo, Brasil Solo