Artist

J. Borges

J. Borges
Astros and Signs
Singers Viola
Untitled
Untitled

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Biography

J. Borges
[José Francisco Borges]
1935, Bezerros – PE

His parents were farmers and Jota Borges, as he is called, was born on the farm Riachão das Torres, and worked on the land since he was eight. He worked as a goatherd, cabinetmaker, stonemason, carpenter, shop assistant, potter, made wooden spoons and toys before coming across bench poetry. He wrote texts, and worked an engraver, printer, publisher and singer of chapbooks in street markets. He spent a short time at school and left when he was 12. When he was 20, he bought copies of chapbooks to resell in Bezerros market. In 1963, he exchanged an old bicycle for a loudspeaker, to become a pamphleteer, receiving some money back in the deal. And in 1965, when he was 30 years old, he published his first chapbook: O encontro de dois vaqueiros numa vaqueijada, printed in the São Joaquim print shop and with the cover by Dila. After some time he began making his own cover woodcuts, after his first successful experiment on a genipap support. Today J. Borges has published more than 200 chapbooks. Since the 1960s, he realized, as other poets-cum-engravers did, that there was a market for larger engravings than those made for the cover of the small 11 x 16 cm chapbooks. J. Borges has an extraordinary sense of composition, masterfully balancing the filled in and empty areas, his remarkable gift for drawing animals is evident, for example, in the book No tempo em que os bichos falavam, published by Casa das Crianças de Olinda in the 1980s. Jota Borges built the Serra Negra Cultural Center in Bezerros to valorize the regional popular culture, and where he also has his studio. His brother Amaro Francisco and his cousin Joel Borges are also woodcut artists. Since the 1980s he became known nationwide and now received invitations to exhibit and sell his work abroad. In the 1990s, Marion Oetetinger, director of the Nelson A. Rockfeller Center for Latin American Art, said the following about him: “little technology always produces very powerful, touching and sophisticated results (when there is talent, of course)” referring to the simple knife and wooden block that Borges uses for his wonderful imagination. Barbara Mauldin, curator of the Santa Fé International Folklore Art Museum, USA, also says that “his sense of composition is superb, and his figures are daring, with informative narrative and a view that is humoristic and happy”. Jota Borges already exhibited in the Grand Palais (1987), Paris, in the part of the Brésil – Arts Populaires exhibition, and in the 1990s and turn of the century, in the Smithsonian and Japan. He is increasingly free in his expressive media, adding color to the woodcuts, and even experimenting marble as a support for his drawings. His work includes the calendar of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

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




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