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05/04/2011 | A curious rescue of photopainting from the Brazilian Northeast

This exhibition brings together some 150 portraits collected by a sociologist. An almost extinct tradition, photopainting has been losing ground to the facilities provided by digital photography. Very common in the Northeast, it keeps, when carried out, the desire of relatives to have the affective memories of their loved ones that had passed away. For example, as curator Eder Chiodetto says, the poorer people, who often only had one small document photograph of themselves, would give these photographs to the photopainter so that this latter professional could bring them together in a photographic and painted composition of a married couple, a family etc. A kind of “magic”, in the view of Chiodetto, photopainting has always been seen as a trade rather than an art. For this reason, it is now curious to see a set of 150 photopaintings like the ones in the exhibition that the Estação Art Gallery today opens for guests and tomorrow for the general public, under the curatorship of Chiodetto, presenting selected works from the private collection of German sociologist Titus Riedl. Living in Crato, in the state of Ceará, Titus Riedl acquired a collection of 5 thousand photopaintings produced in the Brazilian Northeast, between the 1950s and 1990s. In this way, the collection brings back a popular and anonymous practice that has been largely confined to history. Dignity: Photopainting was often a creative kind of composition. “The photopainter gave a feeling of dignity to those represented, by placing a suit and tie on the men and flowers and jewellery on the women”, says the curator of the exhibition. “It had characteristics of affection and also of an increase in self-esteem; it was an idealised painting, like any painting that we see in museums today”, Chiodetto adds. Riedl started his collection because of his master’s degree thesis “Last memories: representations of death in the Cariri, a region in the Brazilian Northeast”. Thus, the study highlights photopainting but, as the curator says, it also reveals “the traits of the Northeastern people”. For the assembly of the exhibition, Chiodetto says that he has decided to give the works a museological character – the photopaintings, small in size (mostly 19 cm x 24 cm and only one of 30 cm x 40 cm) were given special aseptic frames so that the focus is put on each work project.




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