Artist

Chico Tabibuia

Chico Tabibuia ( Francisco Moraes da Silva )
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Eshu 2 heads
Saci Three Brothers
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Woman
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Ghost Ship
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Biography

Chico Tabibuia
[Francisco Moraes da Silva]
1936 / 2007, Casimiro de Abreu - RJ

Chico Tabibuia was born in Silva Jardim County on Maratuã farm, Aldeia Velha, and was only registered by the judge from Casimiro de Abreu when he was 36 years old, together with his mother. His biographer and scholar Paulo Pardal explains that it was impossible to register births in the abject poverty in which he lived. Pardal recounted that his father was a mulatto, “grandson of a Portuguese estate owner who had 40 children with slave women”. His mother was a cabocla. His maternal grandfather was a carpenter, as was his great-father Antônio Anema. Tabibuia followed the strong African tradition that worships the presence of their ancestors and tells Pardal that his great-father Dominguinho Ferreira Neto, “was captured by kings and was a slave of kings, only freed when slavery ended”. But when he “went to heaven”, he taught his son everything that is good: “how to make a flour house, canoe, corn meal and coffee grinders, ox yoke and cart, wooden frames for building houses, small dump carts for slaves to pull provision”. Tabibuia’s mother, Francisca Neta, had Chico with Manuel Moraes da Silva, coffee worker and a poultry breeder. Later, with the 16 children from other marriages, Francisca worked by planting manioc and making mats, and she never left her family: “she gave none of us away to anyone. (…) She was the father that I knew”. When Chico was ten years old he carved his first “doll”, already endowed with a penis. When he was eleven he was a blind man’s guide, when he was 12 he went to work in the forest cutting wood. He made a flour house for his mother so that she could eat manioc, bread, as well as banana and boiled maize, yams and baked sardines. After other wanderings and attempts to work there in the region, Chico decided to work on his own “cutting tabibuia” (trumpet tree) for many years, which gave him his nickname, and whose wood is used in clogs and pencils. Around 1970, he began to carve again when he was 40 years old. He not only made sculptures, but also rustic furniture for the towns in the region, but since he did not receive what was due to him, he was about to give up when he met Paulo Pardal, who also had a house in Barra de São João, and who gave the artist a new hope. Paulo became his main collector and advertiser. His mother took him to a macumba center, which he would attend as a “cambono” (assistant) from 13 to 17 years old. In this ritual most of the entities were dozens of different kinds of exus (Afro-Brazilians entityies) The same exus that he would very often carve but not them alone since 1986 when he was now part of the congregation of the Assembly of God. Tabibuia was permitted by the Pentecostal belief to create the figure of Exu, since he was no longer considered to be a sinner, as he once was in umbanda. This was because it was now free from underground worship, and he said that when making it, the exu was imprisoned in the sculpture “to do no further evil to the people”, and increasingly “fugitive of the forests” where it could act freely. Tabibuia pays a tenth part of his increasing sales of his works to the Pentecostal cult and considers himself free to do his solemn and sacred erotic sculpture. Some days he is torn between “exu in the mind and God in the heart (…). I was born with this skill and who accompanies me are the heavenly angels. I sleep and have an Old Man who teaches me what God is”. Frederico Moraes noticed that “Tabibuia’s great creativity not only includes an erotic – not pornographic – element, strong in all Brazilian art”, but also the monumental size of many of his sculptures. Tabibuia built an important work in the Brazilian visual art scene with his undeniable personal stamp that, when returning to an African source, transcends it, expressing the force of Eros in male/female duality – perhaps the oldest and deepest in the history of human kind. Since 1981, he took part in more than twenty collective and ten individual exhibitions all over Brazil, as well as in anthological exhibitions abroad. His work is found in the main Brazilian popular art museums.

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




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