13/11/2012 | Antonio Gonçalves Filho - O Estado de S. Paulo | The paradise of someone forgotten

The Estação Art Gallery shows the works of Júlio Martins da Silva. A grandchild of slaves, poor and without a family, the painter has painted a world which is against the misery which surrounded him. 13 November 2012, Antonio Gonçalves Filho - O Estado de S. Paulo. Only the eyes of a painter like Paulo Pasta to rediscover an artist with supreme delicateness, yet forgotten. A grandson of slaves, with illiterate parents, Júlio Martins da Silva lived for 85 years and died alone, in a slum in the neighbourhood of Morro União, in Coelho da Rocha, State of Rio de Janeiro. He was a farm hand and a cook, after relocating from Icaraí, where he was born, to Rio de Janeiro at the age of 17, when his father died. He got as far as sleeping in the streets, but painting gave the artist belated recognition at the Biennial Exhibition of Venice, which showed his paintings in 1978, the same year when he died. Six years later it was the turn of the American capital, Washington D.C., to get to know his art. Museums bought his works. After that, silence, only broken once in a while by a small exhibition in private galleries. Now, the Estação Gallery honours him with the opening, this Tuesday, of an exhibition with 17 paintings of the collection of gallery owner Vilma Eid. As the curator of the exhibition, Pasta saw the work of Júlio Martins da Silva for the first time reproduced in the book “Mythopoetics of Nine Brazilian Artists” by Lélia Coelho Frota. Later, he watched a film directed by the Secretary for Culture of São Paulo, Carlos Augusto Calil, when he was a professor of the School of Communications and Arts of the University of São Paulo (ECA-USP), called “What I am seeing, you cannot see” (1978). It brings revealing images of the universe of the painter and of the himself, who only started to “enhance” his art when he retired. Enhance was the right word. Even though he had started to use crayons at the age of 29, as Lélia Coelho Frota says in her book ‘Small Dictionary of the Brazilian People’, Júlio Martins da Silva would take another twenty years until he could draw with coloured pencils, this occurring when he was 47. Then, only when he retired did he use paint and brushes to produce his works, mostly landscapes in which green (his favourite colour) predominated in his ideal world, constructed in an absolutely symmetrical way. ‘It seems that the world that he created goes back to the ideals of the Renaissance, a Utopian world, very different from the world we live in”, the curator observed. The ‘tidy’ nature, the well cared-for gardens, the serenity of the environments, the solemn architecture of the buildings; in all aspects this world contrasts with the reality experienced by the painter. Without wanting to, he turns this ‘tidiness’ into a scenario equivalent to the landscapes of Italian metaphysicists, very placid and oblivious to the passage of time, even though this does not stress the enigmatic character of this world, with the addition of the unheard. Júlio tries to construct a subtle poetic narrative, equivalent to the impression that had been caused to him through reading the romantic authors Castro Alves and Casimiro de Abreu. Pasta highlights the role that the latter has played in his qualification. Coming from the rural area, Júlio learnt how to read and write, and also took a liking to reading, seeking a private teacher to learn grammar. Maybe through the simple language and the naïve tone of the poet who wrote “My Eight Years”, the painter may have identified himself so strongly with the person of Casimiro de Abreu. The nativist nostalgia present in Casimiro is reflected in the works of the painter - an “ordered world of delicate feelings, sublimed, in which the prospects of the Renaissance and symmetry show a desire to release from the void”, the curator analyses, calling attention to the small size of the picture (27 x 41 cm) known as “The Read”, in which a couple reads in a paradisiacal garden, lying against a tree trunk.

Galeria Estação