Artist

Antônio de Dedé

Antonio de Dedé
Accent with two heads
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Biography

Antônio de Dedé
[Antônio Alves do Santos]
1953-2017, Lagoa da Canoa - AL

Showing an easy smile and always with his inseparable hat, he is the eldest of five siblings. He started out by following his father in the carpentry trade and also on farms, at the tender age of eight. He was to help to make sure of the family’s sustenance. Since then, he shares his time in a place where the few employment opportunities arise according to the seasons of the year. Hence his commonly uttered phrase: “anyone who lives off only one art is dead.”
As a young boy, he would watch some typical festivities of his native state of Alagoas to have a bit of fun, these including the guerreiro and reisado parties. In addition, he would also go to the dances and balls of the area. He really liked to dance, but not any more. His wife, who had been his companion for over 30 years of married life, “went on her final trip” some four years ago, leaving an immense void amid nostalgia. A caring father, his main concern has been the future of his family, which is quite large. He has nine children – the eldest is 32; the youngest, nine. His children are already starting to lead their own lives, getting married, leaving the family home, and bringing his first grandchildren into the world.
Dedé says that his incredible skill in the art of sculpture is a “skill given by nature”, something that came to light with observance and also the wish to recreate his father’s work in his own unique way. This is a blessing received from his parents and which he now transmits to his children. He started to do his first “works” also at the age of eight. Toy cars and aeroplanes, made of wood and/or cans were his favourite repertoire at the time. Not long after, came forth the first interested parties – the other children, who were bowled over by his toys. He then enhanced his technique, increased the range of characters that were on show on the shelves of his home – a way of showing his work to the passers-by who could see the work through the cracks the slit in the door.
His name then caught on in the local community, and he became known as a “producers of dolls”. With this excellent repercussion in the local area, soon came the first yet sporadic orders, mainly from “casas de mãe de santo” (houses used by priestesses of Afro-Brazilian religions). Just over three years ago, however, he said that he “had finally been discovered”. This discovery refers to the arrival of external buyers linked to the universe of popular art, who tried to acquire and publicise his work on a national scale. Since then his work, and more recently also the work of the rest of his family, has been prominent within this field, for the forms, meanings and also the high degree of inventiveness.

“Expressions in wood - Antônio de Dedé Family” – Catalogue of the Edison Carneiro Folklore Museum




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