Dr Michael Asbury

TrAIN Member


I was born in Teresópolis, in the mountains of Rio de Janeiro, the son of British missionaries. After twenty years in Brazil I came to England to study engineering but fortunately to myself (and others) changed course and went on to complete an MA in The Study of Contemporary Art at Liverpool University and a PhD in the History and Theory of Art at The London Institute (now UAL). The former focused on British art and architecture in the post-war era, while the latter took me back to Brazil through the work of Hélio Oiticica and his relation to the development of modernism in Brazil and elsewhere.

I have since been attached to the very research centre where I undertook my PhD studies, working initially as a research fellow and expanding my range of interests. I am now a Reader in the Theory and History of Art and course leader for the MA Visual Arts: Transnational Art, at Camberwell College of Arts.

My research on Brazilian constructivism led me to be invited to join the curatorial team for ‘Century City: Art and the Modern Metropolis’, Tate Modern’s inaugural temporary exhibition in 2001, during which I also convened a conference entitled ‘Ideals of Modernity’ which focused on the ‘Rio de Janeiro 1950 – 1964’ section of that exhibition. My work with Oiticica also led to my contribution in 2007 to the Tate publication ‘Oiticica in London’, with an essay entitled ‘This Other Eden: Hélio Oiticica and Subterranean London 1969’. Other commissioned essays have been published by Art History, ArtNexus, inIVA/MIT, Liverpool University Press, Editora Perspectiva, Rodopi, amongst others, with contributions to exhibition catalogues for institutions such as Tate Modern, The Henry Moore Institute, Parasol Unit, Pharos, and Documenta 12.
Since 2005, I have worked as an exhibition programme consultant for the Pharos Centre for Contemporary Art in Nicosia, Cyprus, where I have curated exhibitions and co-edited books on the artists Antonio Manuel, Detanico & Lain, Anna Maria Maiolino, José Patricio, Cao Guimarães and most recently the 10th anniversary of the foundation exhibition Pharos = 10, which gathered the work of artists from around the world, including (other than the Brazilians already mentioned): AES+F, Sarkis Hamalbashian, Joanna Jones, Cildo Meireles, Richard Serra, Richard Wentworth, Bill Viola amongst many others.

Recently I co-edited a special issue of the journal Arte & Ensaios (Art & Essays) entitled Transnational Correspondence: a collaborative project between TrAIN and the School of Fine Arts at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. The publication was launched at a two-day conference at Tate Modern. My activity over the last year has included: presenting papers at the International Congress of Art Historians (CIHA) in Melbourne, at the 1st European Brasilianist Congress at the University of Salamanca, convening a one day conference at the 28th São Paulo Biennial, co-organising a series of talks and screenings with South London Gallery, as well as curating seven exhibitions including Cildo Meireles’ installation ‘Occasion’ at the Rootstein Hopkins Parade Ground, Chelsea College of Art & Design, in conjunction with the artist’s retrospective exhibition at Tate Modern.

I am currently working as co-investigator (with Prof. Valerie Fraser at the University of Essex and Dr Isobel Whitelegg at TrAIN) of a large three years AHRC funded research project entitled Meeting Margins: Transnational Art in Latin America and Europe 1950-1978.


Related Projects

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    Transnational Correspondence

    Transnational Correspondence is a collaboration between TrAIN and PPGAV, the centre for fine art research of the School of Fine Arts, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. It stems from ongoing research carried out by TrAIN Research Fellow Dr Michael Asbury into the comparative reception of Brazilian art at national and international levels.
    Find out more about Transnational Correspondence

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    Nation, Identity and Modernity

    Nation, Identity and Modernity, Visual Culture of India, Japan and Mexico, 1860s-1940 was funded by the AHRC (then AHRB) between 2001 and 2004. A collaboration between The University of Sussex and the University of the Arts London, this major research project was led by Professors Partha Mitter, Oriana Baddeley and Toshio Watanabe.
    Find out more about Nation, Identity and Modernity

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    Meeting Margins

    Meeting Margins – Transnational Art in Europe & Latin America 1950-1978. A new approach to the study of art from Latin America that questions the role traditionally ascribed to New York as the dominant force in modern art in the post-war years.
    Find out more about Meeting Margins

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    TrAIN/Gasworks Artists' Residency

    The TrAIN residency is open to emerging artists based outside the UK who are interested in researching the archives and special collections held at the Chelsea College of Art & Design Library.

    The selected artist will be invited to either use these collections as a point of departure for the development of new work, or to create and deposit his/her own ‘resident archive’ for future researchers at Chelsea College of Art & Design Library.
    Find out more about TrAIN/Gasworks Artists' Residency

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  • Suzana Vaz

    Completed PhD - Body/mind practices and creative process. The Japanese Gutai group and the Brazilian Post-Neoconcrete artists

    My research consists of a comparative view between the work and creative processes of two avant-garde groups, whose activity developed contemporaneously from the 1950s to the 70s. The Gutai group in Japan and Post-Neoconcrete artists in Brazil have important affinities, namely the intent to use concrete experience to access creative potency, the absence of an artistic protocol, and the insertion of avant-garde procedures into a cultural background of transpersonal references.
    Find out more about Suzana Vaz