Andrea and José Olympio Pereira
José Olympio Pereira, an investment banker, and his wife, Andrea, have one of the most prominent private collections of Brazilian contemporary art in the world, with more than 2,400 pieces in their holdings. The collection includes such notable names as Iran do Espírito Santo, Rosângela Rennó, Jac Leirner, Beatriz Milhazes, Vik Muniz, Ernesto Neto, and Adriana Varejão. The Pereiras live in São Paulo, where they have transformed both their home and an additional apartment in the center of the city into a private gallery and exhibition space. Among the most treasured pieces in their collection is Carmela Gross’s installation Facas (Knives). “Everything about it touches me—the forms, the palette, the hidden message or music in the sequences,” they told ARTnews. “We bought it having seen it only on photos. The impact we had when it was installed and we saw it live is unforgettable. It felt like we had found a treasure!”
The couple began collecting in consultation with the famous and now-deceased gallerist Marcantônio Vilaça, in the 1990s. Pereira once told an interviewer for Contemporary Magazine, “We quickly understood that Brazilian art was going through its most fertile period yet, and that we had to start buying before prices went up so much that we wouldn’t be able to acquire the best works of each artist…We went to Marcantônio and said: show us contemporary art.”
José Olympio is the grandson of a celebrated publisher in Brazil. From 1997 until 2004, he was the director and vice president of the São Paulo Museum of Modern Art. If his and Andrea’s collection illustrates anything, it’s that they aren’t afraid of a challenge. Among those who have produced work that was bought by the Pereiras is the São Paulo–based artist Henrique Oliveira, who creates sculptures that are often weighty, both literally and figuratively—monumental in size and packed with references to things like wooden fences that the elements deteriorate common throughout the Brazilian city. Oliveira’s works sometimes have to be built into the settings in which they are shown, and for Xilonoma Chamusquius (2011), the Pereiras cut open a wall in their home to install the work.