The third of five children of Jayme and Anna Sister, who immigrated to Brazil in the 1920s from what is now the Ukraine, Sérgio Sister was born in 1948 in São Paulo, where he currently lives and works. His artistic training began at the studio of Ernestina Karman (1915-2004) between 1964 -1967. During this period, he also attended the Fundação Armando Alvares Penteado (Faap) and, in 1966, became a journalist, reporting for the São Paulo branch of the Rio de Janeiro newspaper Última Hora.
Sister first exhibited in the 1965 and 1966 editions of the Salão Paulista de Arte Moderna in the Galeria Prestes Maia, in the city of São Paulo, and the Salão de Arte Contemporânea de Campinas at the Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Campinas. In 1967, he participated in the 9th Biennale de São Paulo, the Museu de Arte Contemporânea da Universidade de São Paulo (MAC-USP), and at the Museu de Arte Brasileira (MAB-Faap).
In 1970, he was arrested for protesting military regime and was detained for 19 months at the Tiradentes Prison in São Paulo. Sister attended painting workshops held at the institution, and following his release from prison, Sister both returned to painting and resumed his journalistic activities (until the mid-2000s, successively, at TV Cultura, TV Bandeirantes, Rede Globo, Veja magazine, TV Tupi, and the periodicals Análise, Dinheiro Vivo, Carta Política and Valor Econômico, among others). Sister completed a degree in Social Sciences in 1974 and after, immediately began researching a master’s degree thesis on “union bureaucracy” in the Department of Political Science of FFLCH-USP, while continuing to paint. Until the middle of the following decade, Sister produces works characterized by irregular geometric shapes. During this period, the artist began to investigate the reflectivity of metallic inks and pigments “as a way to reflect the external world inside the picture,” which became one of the hallmarks of his work moving forward.
In 1983, Sérgio Sister has his first solo exhibition at the Paulo Figueiredo Art Gallery, in São Paulo. He then traveled to New York, which influenced his practice. In the late 1980s, Sister grew close to an informal circle of artists consisting of Célia Euvaldo, Fábio Miguez, José Spaniol, Laura Vinci, Marco Giannotti, Nuno Ramos, Paulo Monteiro, Paulo Pasta, and Renata Tassinari. In 1989, he participated in group shows and has solo exhibitions at Galeria Macunaíma of the National Arts Foundation in Rio de Janeiro, and the Centro Cultural São Paulo (CCSP), which played an important role in stimulating contemporary art production in Brazil.
In 1990, the artist had a one-person show at Galeria Millan, and participated in the Panorama of Current Brazilian Art at the Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo (MAM-SP). Two years later, Sister has an exhibition at the Morumbi Chapel in São Paulo. In 1992, Sérgio Sister helps organizes a group show at the Museu de Arte Moderna in Rio de Janeiro (MAM-RJ). That same year, Sister participates in the Panorama of Brazilian Drawing at MAM-SP.
Between 1994 and 1995, Sérgio Sister continues his series of monochrome paintings, but with rather pronounced tonal divisions. It is with works of this kind that the artist participates in the exhibition Morandi in Brazil, organized by the Fine Arts Division of the Centro Cultural São Paulo (CCSP). That same year, Sister has a one-person exhibition at Galeria Millan, and in 1996, a series of paintings with vertical stripes emerges. This approximation between distinct colors on a surface, while preserving the autonomy of each of them, leads the artist to experiment with a none-too conventional support for painting: fruit boxes; the kind made of wood, used for packing and shipping. Sister begins to apply paint flatly–something previously atypical of his work–to the slats of these boxes.
In 2000, the artist organizes an exhibition of his work at the Museu de Arte de Ribeirão Preto (Marp), São Paulo. In 2002, the monograph Sérgio Sister was published by the editions Casa da imagem, with essays by Alberto Tassinari, Lorenzo Mammì and Rodrigo Naves. In 2002, as the Brazilian Representation of the 25th Biennale of São Paulo curated by Agnaldo Farias and under the general direction of Alfons Hug, Sister presents a group of large paintings. Sister’s desire to “liberate” painting in space, finds expression in an exhibition held in 2003, at the 10.20 x 3.60 gallery. Sister continues to exhibit regularly throughout the 2000’s, and in 2007, Agnaldo Farias organizes Paintings Face to Face at the Instituto Tomie Ohtake in São Paulo. At this point, Sister’s work is celebrated in Brazil and abroad. His work is the subject of many articles, books, and publications as well as museum and gallery exhibitions in New York, Brazil, Baltimore, and beyond.
To date, Sergio Sister’s work has been celebrated extensively throughout the world, and is included in major public collections such as the Museu de Arte Moderna, the Pinacoteca do Estado in São Paulo and the Museu de Arte Moderna in Rio de Janeiro.