13/11/2012 | Brasil 247 | 13 October 2012 – STORIES OF SEENING – BRAZILIANS STAND OUT AT EXHIBITION IN PARIS | By Luis Pellegrini

In one of the most important exhibitions of naïve art of all times, the Cartier Foundation of Contemporary Art, in Paris, brings together some 50 artists of excellent quality, chosen throughout the world. More than half of this universe is made up of Brazilian artists. By Luis Pellegrini, 13 August 2012. Sometimes, to find out about the good things that happen in Brazil, there is a need to go abroad – for example, go to Paris to visit the exhibition known as Stories of seeing, showing and telling, now being shown at the Cartier Foundation, in the district of Montparnasse. The exhibition, evidently very large in size, takes up the whole of the exhibition space of this Foundation, which is now considered as one of the main addresses for contemporary art in the world. Curator Hervé Chandés explains that the “Histoires de voir” exhibition came out of the curiosity of seeing and understanding what the so-called “naïve”, “self-learning” or “primitive” art consists of. “To come into contact with artists who have followed other paths, different from those enforced by the dominant visual Codes, revisiting the relationships between contemporary and popular art, between art and handicrafts”, says Chandés. Based on these principles, the Cartier Foundation organised a real audiovisual commemoration. At this event, the works can be discovered, and also the works tell the stories of over 50 artists from around the world, including sculptors, painters, drawers, cinema people and also people that follow mixed techniques. These are Brazilians, Indians, Congolese and Paraguayans, as also Mexicans, Haitians, Europeans, Japanese and North Americans, who live in Paris, in Port-au-Prince, in several locations scattered around the Brazilian Northeast, neighbourhoods of Mexico City, the remotest outposts of the Amazon and the outskirts of Mumbai. Nearly all have discovered that they are artists and have learnt how to “see” in unique circumstances and contexts; considered as “naïve artists” and hence victims of prejudice which regards this vision as a “lesser art”, meaning that they are rarely invited to present their work in those institutions dedicated to contemporary art. We can therefore say that this initiative of the Cartier Foundation is highly revolutionary in this regard, and its firing power was soon felt: the public responded with great enthusiasm and packs the space of the exhibition, every single day. In this great and brilliant set of forms and colours produced by artists “outside the dominant visual Codes”, Brazil calls the shots. Out of the 50 or so artists invited, almost half are Brazilian, namely: José Antônio da Silva from São Paulo, who died in 1996; Antônio de Dedé, from Lagoa da Canoa in the state of Alagoas; the baiano Nilson Pimenta, from Caravelas, who now lives in Cuiabá; the pernambucano artist Cícero José da Silva, a resident of Caruaru; Bahian artist Aurelino dos Santos, who lives in the Ondina slum in Salvador, very poor and schizophrenic, with a gripping story, who would change his paintings for packs of cigarettes – and who is now considered so valuable that the Cartier Foundation used a phrase penned by poet Fernando Pessoa to define him as a living myth: “The myth is the nothing that is everything”. The list of Brazilians continues with the Native Brazilian of the Guarany tribe, Valdir Benites, who lives on the Itaóca Native Brazilian Reservation, in São Paulo; Ronaldo Costa, also a Native Brazilian, who lives in Tiarajú, in the state of Santa Catarina; the incredible Sergipan sculptor Véio, who lives in Nossa Senhora da Glória, in his native state of Sergipe; Pernambucan José Bezerra, from the city of Catimbau; the Bahian artist Alcides Pereira dos Santos, who died in São Paulo in 2007; the master Francisco da Silva, whose frogs, butterflies, moths and fantastic birds in the past even decorated the walls of Brazilian bars, and now take up a whole wall at the Cartier Foundation; photographer Cláudia Andujar; the mineiro Neves Torres, who now lives in the city of Serra, in Espírito Santo; Ciça, a sculptor from Juazeiro do Norte, who died in 2002. Here, we highlight the person of Isabel Mendes da Cunha, the greatest ceramic artist in the Jequitinhonha Valley and who lives in Santa, in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais – his brides with flowers and wreaths made the French people gaze in awe. The greatest of all surprises in this exhibition: the works of the Native Brazilian pajé Ibã, of the Huni Kui tribe, who lives in the Xiku Curumin tribe, on the banks of the Jordão river, in Acre. The “musical drawings” produced by Ibã and the group of young people who work with him have already gone round the world, arousing the stupor of art critics and also specialists in several branches of science. Ibã is worthy of mention both within the exhibition and also in the catalogue thereof. This pajé from the Amazon region inherited much of the cultural, linguistic and spiritual heritage of his people from his father. In the documentary film made about him, also shown at the exhibition, he says that “it is now time for us to reorganise our knowledge and our culture.” In fact, the thought and the cultural warrior posture shown by Ibã is the real cultural denominator between all the artists chosen to be part of “Stories of seeing, showing and telling”. The struggle that he represents is now starting to be acknowledged internationally. The important presence of his work and his group in the exhibition in Paris is proof of this fact. With his son Cleiber, and another dozen or so Huni Kui Native Brazilians, Ibã embarked on a new venture which is, essentially, the dream of many plastic artists: translating in drawings on paper the teachings, the poetry, the magic and the enchantment of the traditional music of his tribe. The result of this effort is a series of drawings very rich in symbolic elements and also the innovative aesthetic standards that, curiously, remind one of the most inventive creations of cartoons and also of contemporary mangás. “The exhibition answers the desire to open the visions, to see things in another way, to give the word to artists and communities of artists that launch a wondrous look on the world. It makes it possible to get to know women and men for whom art is closely related to hypersensitivity of the heart”, says Italian designer and architect, Alessandro Mendini, the scenographer of the exhibition. He is right. However, there is another aspect of this exhibition that must be highlighted, something which only those who visit the exhibition and see the shine in the European visitors’ eyes when paralysed in front of these “primitive” works can truly understand. These works give nutrition, and somehow fill in the hole which has been caused by the hunger for renovation of cultural values and aesthetic standards. From the bottomless bag of imagination and the “naïve” soul of these artists, come forth some things that don’t even exist in Santa Claus’ bags. The Cartier Foundation, that has a good eye for these things, has already discovered this fact. All that remains is for our museologists, critics, gallery owners and collectors not to miss this chance. Source: Brasil 247

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