Belo Horizonte, Brazil, 1945.
Iole de Freitas was born in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, in 1945. She moved to Rio de Janeiro at age 7. As a child de Freitas took painting classes at the Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro with Ivan Serpa (1923–1973), one of the founders of the influential constructivist Grupo Frente. She studied dance from her youth into her twenties which relates to her proclaimed interest in space and movement. In the 1960s she became involved with the Ateliê de Ipanema where she learned to make copper jewelry and weave on a manual loom. There, she met artist Antonio Dias (b. 1944), who later became her husband. She studied at the Escola Superior de Desenho Industrial, from 1964 to 1965. In the 1970s, she worked in Milan as a designer at Olivetti’s Corporate Image Studio under the guidance of the architect Hans von Klier. de Freitas’ influences include Picasso, Cézanne, Degas, and Tatlin.
In Milan, she began to develop and exhibit her own work from 1973. During the 1960s, however, she had already produced a body of works that included photographic images, installations, and experimental films that critiqued the conceptualization of the female body and femininity by dominant representational systems. In terms of technique, her early works featured extreme proximity of the filmed or photographed object in relation to the image plane as well as the recurring image of the mirror. By reducing the distance in her photographs, she is bringing the camera into the experience as if the device is an extension of the body of the subject. Her style has been compared to the art of Carmela Gross, another Brazilian artist. This is attributed to their focus on the construction and deconstruction of the relations between things.
When de Freitas returned to Brazil, she focused on sculpture that followed the trends of the contemporary Brazilian sculpture. By 1974, her works focused on three-dimensional pieces that were made of wire, cloth, glass, and rubber.