Artist

Manuel Graciano

Manoel Graciano
Reisado
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Biography

Manuel Graciano
[Manuel Graciano Cardoso]
1923-2014 Santana do Cariri – CE

He moved with his family to Juazeiro no Norte in the State of Ceará in 1929.
He began to work with wood when he was ten, “learning from nature” to make pestles, toys, which he would sell to other children. Married and with three children, he then went to produce ex-votos and Nativity scenes. He worked on the land for several years until he was discovered by woodcutter and chapbook author Abraão Bezerra Batista. However, although his work was well received, he did not leave the land that he rented one and a half leagues from his home, where he planted corn “to survive”. His sculpture in wood was soon acquiring its own authorial freedom. Manuel Graciano creates groups with various characters to form a true set of sculptures, with the possibility of changing the figures around. He is thrifty with color that he includes skillfully in the carved shape. In his Nativity scene, tones of earth, green and pink predominate with small but firm touch of blue in the angels’ clothes. Graciano has a sense of humor that can rise to the most blazing Expressionism in many of his works. In this Nativity scene his humor is apparent in the portrayal of the baby Jesus already grown up, possibly wearing a soccer player’s strip, another of Graciano’s constant figures, and he carves whole teams in wood. His refined tones are evident also in the wonderful Epiphany festival with predominantly blue, where the ten members of the mobile sculpture group receive a dosed addition of green and touches of red painted on the figures, whose clothes have always a white speckled hem. Manuel Graciano prepares his colors by using aniline mixed with pitch and alcohol, before applying them to the wood of the umburana or Californian pepper tree, which he carves. When he does carved compositions in a single block of wood, he prefers the animal forms to the human figure, painting them with distinctive brushstrokes, always in harmonious tonal refinement. Francisco Graciano Cardoso (1966) and grandson Francisco Edinaldo continue with his work. He took part in the exhibition Brésil, Arts Populaires (Grand Palais, 1987), Mostra do Redescobrimento (São Paulo Biennial Foundation, 2000), and his work is to be found in the collection of the Edison Carneiro Folklore Museum in Rio de Janeiro and in popular art exhibition of the São Francisco Cultural Center in João Pessoa, Paraíba State.

Little Dictionary of the Brazilian People’s Art – 20th Century, by anthropologist and poet Lélia Coelho Frota




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