The Ibero-American Utopias exhibition is at the Embassy of Brazil, London 14 – 16 Cockspur Street, SW1Y 5BL from 16th November to 8th December 2017. Private view: 15th November 6.30pm

“For some time, we have wanted to put on a major event to commemorate the relaunch of our activities, as well as to celebrate the rich cultural diversity of the countries that we represent. Fortuitously, our plans thereby coincided with the 500th anniversary of the publication of Thomas More’s ‘Utopia’, so we thought we would explore how More’s fictional account of an ideal world could be said to speak to the Ibero-American situation – therefore, this year’s theme will be ‘Ibero-American Utopias’. This also speaks to our interest in fostering cultural interchange, and in stimulating new interactions between the Ibero-American and British worlds. In this case, we are linking a key text of the UK’s Renaissance intellectual history to current trends in contemporary art, and revisiting and investing with new significance the story of the relationship between these two spheres.

So, how about the link?  If you stop to think about how Spanish and Portuguese explorers first fantasized about the Americas as a kind of ‘new Eden’; how Latin American thinkers have sought to forge their own unblemished ‘native’ consciousness; about Don Quixote and his impossible dream; or Pablo Neruda’s hymns to the ideal of Pan-American unity; or Mário de Andrade’s irreverent utopian novel Macunaíma, his rhapsodic amalgamation of brazilianness, – you will see that the intellectual and art histories of Ibero-American countries are indeed a rich tapestry of utopian dreams and contestations. And it isn’t just Ibero-American artists who have been inspired by the myth of El Dorado. You need look no further than Voltaire’s Candide for an example of how Latin America, Spain and Portugal have long served as beacons of utopianism to writers and artists from beyond their borders.”

– Hayle Gadelha, Cultural Attaché, Embassy of Brazil