Henrique Oliveira’s ‘Corupira’ Brings Brazilian Legends to Brisbane

Enchanted forests have been core places of fairy-tale magic from the classic Mesopotamian "Epic of Gilgamesh" to an 18th-century French tale of Beauty and the Beast. Enchanted forests stood as a constant and part of the magical world. A new group exhibition at the Brisbane Gallery of Modern Art catches the aura of these magical environments and beyond happily-ever-after worlds.

So, rather than starting a clichéd "once upon a time," "Fairy Tales" opens with a twisty labyrinth of rupturing trees. The latest work from Henrique Oliveira, seen here earlier in the show, the installation is undulating and called "Corupira," forming a tortuous path within the gallery. "I've tried to set it up so you have a different relationship with the space, and somehow you are back to watch out. If you don't look up, you're gonna hit your head on a branch," he says in a video about the project. “Get back to your senses. I think that’s something the world misses today.”

“Corupira” twists the Tupi-Guarani myth of the demonic curupira, a redheaded creature with the power to ignite.

The legend was that, with its origin back to the Brazilian Amazon, the monster had backward feet so that the adventurous brave, getting into the forest to be confused, as the feet of the monster were wrongly placed. Fairy Tales is on view in Brisbane through April 28. Be sure to watch the timelapse below for an overview of how the installation came together and find more from Oliveira on Instagram.