[Maria Auxiliadora Silva]
1935, Campo Belo - MG / 1974, São Paulo - SP
Maria Auxiliadora moved with her parents and siblings to the city of São Paulo, and stopped studying when she was 12 years old to help the family, working as a domestic servant and embroiderer. Her mother, Maria Almeida Silva (1912), also produced very interesting wooden sculptures in African style when interviewed her in 1972, and played a clearly matriarchal role in the family. Eight of her children, at the time, carved, painted or wrote poetry. The father, José Cândido da Silva, retired civil servant, had a gift for music and played the 8-bass accordion. When she was fourteen, Maria Auxiliadora began drawing with charcoal. She soon moved on to gouache and only when she was 26 years old did she try oils. Maria Auxiliadora herself, in deposition to Mitopoética de nove artistas brasileiros (1975), where I wrote the first essay about her work, defined her technical career: “My first oils in 1968 were flat, with no relief. But at the end of that year I had already begun doing relief with hair. First using the oil to fix it because at that time I didn’t even know about Wanda’s mass. I’d get very think paint and imprint the hair, very often my own, because very often I’d paint Creoles. I had this idea when I was painting a large picture of candomblé in1968”. Maria Auxiliadora also at that time spoke about the construction of the hybrid work between painting and high relief that characterized her visual expression, in which many saw a leaning towards pop art. In late 1960s and in the 1970s, she very often used to written dialogues leaving the mouths of the characters, like in comic strips. When she began using plastic mass, the undulation of the canvas was even more accentuated. The pronounced relief of the female genital organs, besides obviously underscoring the portrayal of sexuality, reminds us of rare but existing iconographies of orishas, Yemanjá, for example, who suggest fertility. This association is made by the social context shown by Maria Auxiliadora’s urban painting. The religious themes are represented in her work with as much intensity and frequency as the amorous themes, which described her being in the world through a great erotic vibration. Auxiliadora was born in Minas Gerais, moved to São Paulo when she was three, and has kept the nostalgic memory of life in the countryside, certainly kept alive by her mother’s accounts, and which he also portrayed frequently. However, the themes of candomblé, a caboclo’s house, fantastic scenes of dances, festivals, carnivals, loves and possession of orishas will be what comes most spontaneously to the eroded, volcanic surface of her painting. Maria Auxiliadora’s art also has an extremely interesting autobiographical soundtrack: she paints herself among relatives, at parties, as a painter before the easel surrounded by inspiring angels. Or in tears, from that hard time when she was told that she had an incurable disease, which caused her death before she was 40. In fact, the works Velório da Noiva (the bride’s wake), Enterro da Noiva (the bride’s burial) (1973) are clearly autobiographical, where she appears already dead, lying in a coffin, with family members and friends weeping around, and following on to her burial. Maria Auxiliadora participated in movements of the black consciousness, such as that of Trindade. Catholic themes, such as the Hole Family, were gradually substituted by candomblé and, in 1968, she wins a prize in the Plastic Arts Salon of Embu. The artist was recognized nationally and internationally in her next and last seven years. Mário Schemberg presented her exhibition in the USIS Gallery, One man show, 1970, to which she was invited by consul Alan Fischer, who saw her works displayed on the floor of the Praça da República on Sundays. Her work was also in the collectives taken by the Brazilian American Institute to Washington and the University of Indiana (USA, 1971). After Werner Arnholdt’s initiative, her painting was introduced in 1973 at the Basle and Dusseldorf Art Shows, and in Contemporary Art Salon in Paris. Many art collectors and galleries in Europe then acquired her works. Pietro Maria Bardi included her in the collective Festa de cores, and held and individual collective about it, also in MASP, in 1981. Bardi wrote about her work in the trilingual book Maria Auxiliadora, published by Giulio Bollafi Edditore, in Italy, with preface by max Fourny (1977). On 17 October 1981 critic Flavio de Aquino e Maria Alice Ferraz published in the Manchete magazine an illustrated 8-page chronicle about her work. Some of her works are in the National Museum of Fine Arts of Rio de Janeiro, Museum of Modern Art of São Paulo, Museum of the Sun in São Paulo, Museum of Art Naïf in Ile de France, Vicq (Paris), Rade Museum in Hamburg, Germany. She is found in the art dictionaries by Roberto Pontual (1969) and Walmir Ayala (1997). Her work was shown in the exhibitions Brésil, Arts Populaires in the Grand Palais (1987) and Brazilian Naïf Art (1993) in the Jacques Ardies Gallery in São Paulo.
Little Dictionary of the Brazilian People’s Art – 20th Century, by anthropologist and poet Lélia Coelho Frota