São Paulo Art Biennial

The São Paulo Art Biennial is a large-scale art exhibition that features contemporary Brazilian and international art.

35th Bienal de São Paulo - 6 Set to 10 Dec 2023 - website

Founded in 1951, the São Paulo Art Biennial is the second oldest art biennial in the world after Venice, which is its role model. The biennial features contemporary Brazilian and international art and is one of the most important large-scale art exhibitions in Brazil and South America. Each edition lasts three months and attracts worldwide attention – 700,000 people visited in 2021. The biennial is one of São Paulo’s largest events. The exhibition and public programme of debates, seminars, performances and presentations are a catalyst for other meetings and events, which together generate significant income for the city.

In the past, the biennial had national pavilions; New Zealand artists were represented at the New Zealand National Pavilion, which was funded by Creative NZ Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa. More recently, New Zealand artists have presented their artwork at the biennial through a curated international exhibition. These artists include Darcy Lange (2021); Kathy Barry and Luke Willis Thompson (2016); Michael Parekōwhai, Dane Mitchell and Richard Maloy (2004); Andrew McLeod and Brendon Wilkinson (2006); Joe Sheehan (2008); Gavin Hipkins (2002); and Peter Robinson (1996).

Each edition of the biennial has a theme. The 24th biennial (1998) – said to have been the best yet – focused on anthropology. This theme permeated the work of its 76 curators, 53 national representations and solo shows. The event’s adjunct curator was Adriano Pedrosa, who is now lead curator and artistic director at the Museu de Arte de São Paulo. Adriano is currently curating Indigenous Histories – an exhibition featuring 14 Māori artists, which opens in October 2023. He will also be curating the 60th Venice Biennale International Art Exhibition in 2024, which will feature five New Zealand artists – the largest number of New Zealand creatives ever selected to present at this globally curated exhibition.

The theme of the last biennial (2021) was “Faz Escuro Mas eu Canto” (it's dark but I sing). Biennial curator Ruth Estévez visited New Zealand before the event to meet writers, art critics, curators and museum directors and present her curatorial practice at City Gallery Wellington | Te Whare Toi. This initiative was supported by Te Manu Ka Tau: Flying Friends programme, run by Creative NZ Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa.

The 35th edition of the biennial is taking place between September and December 2023, and a group of students from Te Kunenga ki Pūrehuroa Massey University will be attending. The event’s theme is “Choreographies of the Impossible” and the list of 121 confirmed artists shows the voices of diaspora and indigenous people are strongly represented.

Published 02 November 2023

“[At the biennial] we are witnessing the convergence of exceptional artists, transformative ideas, and an incisive dialogue about the urgent issues of our time. This exhibition will become a lasting legacy, inspiring future generations and redefining the boundaries of what is possible in artistic expression.”
José Olympio da Veiga Pereira, president – Fundação Bienal de São Paulo

Fundação Bienal de São Paulo website

People involved

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Key people collaborating on this project.


Adriano Pedrosa


Ruth Estévez


São Paulo Art Biennial - NZ artists

Institutions involved

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Key institutions collaborating on this project.


Fundação Bienal de São Paulo


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Dane Mitchell


Richard Reddaway


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Argentina & Brazil & Chile & Colombia & Mexico & Peru & Uruguay


Indigenous Histories

Brazil & Mexico & Peru