Artist

Nuca de Tracunhaém

Nuca de Tracunhaém
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Biography

Nuca de Tracunhaém
[Manuel Borges da Silva]
1937, Nazaré da Mata – PE
2014 , Recife - PE

Nuca was born on the sugar plantation of Pedra Furada, and when still a lad moved with his family to Tracunhaém, where his father bought a small plot of land. There the family lived and planted for their subsistence. It is natural that Nuca, when he arrived at the large ceramic center of Tracunhaém, would become interested in the brickworks, and would closely see the work of Lídia Vieira and Zezinha, of whom he is an admirer (O Reinado da Lua, 1980). He married Maria and continued working in the brickwork trade and planting to survive. He was 37 years old when he began modeling clay, at the request of an antique dealer from Recife. Nuca then created beautiful sculptures of his lions that could be almost one meter long. Perhaps the lions of Portuguese porcelain decorating the entrance to old houses in Recife had being his starting point. But these animals, completely different from the realistic portrait, first recall the early centuries of the classic ancient times. With an archaic and solemn look of guardians – not of common dwelling, to where they finally arrived, but of sacred spaces - , they are the result of a harmonious concept of volume and treatment of the alternately smooth and worked surfaces with curly manes, or grooved with a knife. Nuca on this occasion would also carve human figures with the same ascetic and archaic simplification of shape, where the only ornaments are foliage and flowers. His wife, Maria Gomes, models small lions that she calls carrancas or figureheads. Roberto Burle Marx put Nuca’s lions at the entrance to his house on his museum-farm in Guaratiba, Rio de Janeiro. One of them is part of the collection of the museum of popular art the São Francisco Cultural Center in João Pessoa, in Paraíba State, after being part of the Brésil, Arts Populaires, in Grand Palais exhibition in Paris, 1987.

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

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