Aislan Pankararu

Aislan Pankararu | Endless River
Salon 94 89th Street

Installation Views


Aislan Pankararu was born in 1990 in Petrolândia, a small city in the interior of the state of Pernambuco and belongs to the indigenous Pankararu people of Northeastern Brazil. His work is informed by three streams: the Caatinga biome of Northeastern Brazil, the traditions and cultures—especially body painting—of his Indigenous Brazilian community, and his university training in medicine. The rich complexity of these simultaneous pursuits—how the body functions, how we heal, how we retain and honor communities and traditions, our relation to the outside, natural world—amalgamate knowledge traditions, patterning, and visual delight through each of the paintings and drawings in this exhibition, his first in the United States.

The works presented in Endless River refer to and build upon Pankararu’s unique worldview through the visual and material alike: the white pigment used in many of his paintings is a natural clay material traditionally used by the Pankararu to adorn the body for ceremonies, making each monochromatic work a body, a group of bodies, and a sampler of ornamental possibility. Other works burst with color, showing the vibrant and fecund natural world of cacti, roots, leaves, seed pods, and flowers that reference the earthy terrains and flora as well as the ingredients and elements for healing, as well as the forest setting where healers work.

Video by Francisco Miguez

Many of the works in Endless River are linked to the Toré, a ritual dance within Pankararu culture that is the fundamental connection between earthly and spiritual worlds. This is a sacred and divine practice that is expressed and practiced through the dynamics of creating pathways of connectivity through dance, movement, music and body painting. The sensory experiences of a total aesthetic experience such as the Toré is crucial to the infrastructure of Aislan’s aesthetic sensibilities and ongoing practice of Pankararu traditions. Artistic expression to Aislan is also a means to create visual systems that heal and soothe individuals in times and spaces of need to provide comfort, help and or support. The aesthetics of Aislan’s worldview embrace a vast flow of visions and memories that find endless freedom on the canvas or paper support: each work is a watershed moment, expressing and swelling with undulating waves of detail, potentiality, and richness of thought replete with histories of color, texture, and patterns drawn from nature, the community, and medicine. Aislan Pankararu’s mission is committed to not only healing and artistry, but to “the revindication for space, reconnecting with a place that was seized since colonization…it is a way to bring a new vision…”

The vision of Aislan Parakararu’s work underscores the tenacity of resilience, resistance, reclamation and the necessity of identity, agency, dignity of Indigenous cultures. In this era of ongoing global crisis and challenges of climate change, his combinatory position—itself a wisdom—is crucial to developing ways to honor and protect the environment and life forms, including their cultures, across the nations.

Leslie King Hammond,PhD

Endless River is organized in collaboration with Galatea, São Paulo and Alexandra Mollof Fine Art.

For additional information on this exhibition, please contact Andrew Blackley (


This Spring, Brazil Lands in New York: 5 New Shows Capture the Country’s Electric Art Ecosystem
Sara Roffino

Cultured Mag