Exhibitions

Agostinho Batista de Freitas | Right to Poetry | from 01/10/2008 to 01/11/2008

Virtual catalog in PDF: download

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Introduction

Agostinho Batista de Freitas | Right to Poetry

I met Agostinho in the 1990s. I had already had several of his works in my collection, but I still needed to meet the man. Rugiero took him to my office and that short figure, a bit stocky and with an unfriendly look on his face, was soon an interest of mine. Soon after, he started to visit me and, once in a while, took over one of his works which I would then buy. We would have a chat, then he would go away and I would start thinking just how extraordinary the life, history and work of the artist actually are! After he died, his work was almost cast into oblivion.  Never more was an exhibition held, and the works appearing in auctions, even the better and cheaply priced items, are not always bought. This is a deep injustice, and we must not let this happen again. This exhibition, which is the first since his death, has the main aim of recovering the memory and the work of Agostinho Batista de Freitas. This is a not a retrospective exhibition, and neither does it intend to show his vast work in its entirety. We have made a kind of cutting, selecting the core issues present in his work, such as urban life, life in the rural countryside and also the popular folk festivities known as folguedos, this being the theme that we consider the best and also the most surprising.

Vilma Eid

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Curator

Agostinho Batista de Freitas | Right to Poetry


At some point in the middle of the 20th Century, the eyes of critiques and marchands within Brazilian plastic arts seemed highly attentive to everything which could arise at locations as yet improbable. These people, who sought creative impulses to define Brazil’s very own cultural production, took their eyes off the traditional Brazilian stages for plastic arts, such as museums, saloons and art galleries, seeking types of artistic expression that could emanate from the people without being put through the academicist and elitist filter of the traditional stages of critique. The discovery of a painter like Volpi, who starting out as a wall painter got converted into a major representative of national painting was significant; as even was the discovery of the paintings by Heitor dos Prazeres, in 1940, in Rio de Janeiro. These examples opened the doors so that art observers could acknowledge in the simplest works – and even precarious work – very rich artisanal solutions, which could indeed translate the reality, the expression and the imagination of large swathes of the Brazilian population, with greater authenticity and precision. The fundamental milestones of this attention to popular artistic production in Brazil were the exhibitions “Bahia in Ibirapuera” (1959) and “The Hand of the Brazilian People” (1969). Both were brainchildren of the Italian couple Lina Bo and Pietro Maria Bardi, who had come to Brazil in 1946 and then, at the initiative of Assis Chateaubriand, created the São Paulo Art Museum (MASP) in 1947. In opposition to the idea that there is a “popular”, “primitive”, “folkloric” or “spontaneous” form of art, Lina and Pietro considered that there was only the fullness of the aesthetic expression of the human being, “that does not accept any further divisions into categories or impervious compartments”. And it was the MASP director, Pietro Maria Bardi himself, who in 1952 discovered on the streets of São Paulo, allegedly in the Viaduto do Chá, the work of Agostinho Batista de Freitas, an artist who sold pictures to survive. At that time, he already drew attention because of the talent he showed in the representation of urban landscapes. Pietro then ordered a painting, gave it some touches of oil paints and a canvas, and then placed it on a building in downtown São Paulo. From then on, Agostinho painted his view of the city of São Paulo, a picture that remained in possession of professor Bardi through to the end of his days. Professor Bardi saw in Agostinho a great talent for the composition of urban perspectives and also in the capture of daily scenes of the city; he called him the “Brazilian Utrillo”, which is a reference to French painter Maurice Utrillo, of the Paris School of the early 20th Century. Utrillo was a master at drawing the landscapes of the Montmartre district in Paris. Agostinho did the same in São Paulo. As time went by, Agostinho started to draw not only the city of São Paulo, but also landscapes of other cities, farms, the rural countryside, popular festivities, animals and plants. These are work subjects that remind us of the work of Henri “Douanier” Rousseau, a French painter of the late 19th and early 20th Century. Agostinho Batista de Freitas remains today as an intelligent observer, and is part of the lineage of great observers in Brazil, from Franz Post and Carlos Julião through to Alberto da Veiga Guignard. Agostinho was never trained in classical painting techniques: he prepared his pictures and used paints as he wished. However, doing everything his own way, he was a great landscape artist who, in Lina’s words, “conquered the right to Poetry”.


João Grinspum Ferraz

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Release

Agostinho Batista de Freitas | Right to Poetry


The Estação Art Gallery shows, with Vilma Eid and João Grinspum Ferraz as curators, the individual exhibition of Agostinho Batista de Freitas (born Campinas, 1927, died São Paulo, 1997), an artist who was discovered on the streets of São Paulo in 1952 by Pietro Maria Bardi, then director of the São Paulo Art Museum (MASP). Right to Poetry: Agostinho Batista de Freitas brings together 67 works that, according to the curators, address the issues which are considered the most surprising in his work: urban scenes, farms and parties. Agostinho created his paintings in a detailed yet simple fashion, making an excellent representation of daily life. According to Mr Ferraz, Professor Bardi compared the artist to the master in representing Parisian landscapes, Maurice Utrillo. As time went by, Agostinho started to draw not only the city of São Paulo, but also landscapes of other cities, farms, the rural countryside, popular festivities, animals and plants. “This is work that reminds us of the work of Henri Rousseau, a French painter of the end of the 19th and the start of the 20th century”, said the curator. Without ever having studied painting techniques, the artist represented the world in his own way and, by means of non-conceptual art, became a great landscape painter. As Bardi said, “naive by nature, a festive simplifier of what he paints, an instinctive popular master (…), Agostinho is what he is: a painter”. Mr Ferraz also completes his argument: “He remains today as an intelligent observer, and is part of the lineage of great observers in Brazil, which extends from Franz Post and Carlos Julião to Alberto da Veiga Guignard”. Born in Campinas, Agostinho came to São Paulo when he was 11 years old to work at a toy factory in Mooca, from which he was fired for drawing during working hours. After working as an electrician’s assistant, the artist started to paint and sell his paintings on the pavement of Avenida São João, in downtown São Paulo. In 1952, P.M. Bardi passed by and showed interest in his talent, “a non-abstract vision, neither informal nor concrete”. In his opinion, Agostinho, from those days onwards, became his friend and did what he could, with conviction, so the artist could be well known. “[Agostinho] was working, always attentive and a born landscape artist, showing the same genuine expression”, he writes. The exhibition is a continuation of the work of the Brazilian People’s Imagination Institute (Instituto do Imaginário do Povo Brasileiro - IIPB), created to preserve and promote production arising from artistic execution of Brazilian popular origin, and seeks to preserve and promote Agostinho’s memory and works. “After his death, Agostinho was nearly forgotten, and this exhibition and the book are a way of recovering a famous figure and doing him justice, within the Brazilian artistic scene”, explains the curator, IIPB President and director of the Estação Art Gallery, Vilma Eid. On the opening of the exhibition, there shall be the launch of the book The Right to Poetry: Agostinho Batista de Freitas (Direito à Poesia- Agostinho Batista de Freitas), with texts by João Grinspum Ferraz, Pietro Maria Bardi and Roberto Rugiero, as well as 64 photographs, taken by João Liberato de Souza Vidotto and Luiz Hossaka.


 


Press Information: Marcy Junqueira – Pool de Comunicação marcy@pooldecomunicacao.com.br Telephone ++ 55 11 3032-1599 Facsimile: ++ 55 11 3814 -7000


 


 


 





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