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17/12/2012 | Revista Arte!Brasileiros - Maio/Junho 2012 - Let The Imagination Fly

Ten popular artists prompt us to navigate inside our minds in the exhibition Teimosia da Imaginação (Stubborn Imagination)

Text Ana Maria Ciccacio Photos Luiza Sigulem

Intriguing, powerful, seminal. Imagination, this faculty or capacity of the mind to engender images, has always merited considerable reflection from the philosophers, but it is with the artists – from literature to visual arts, from the theater to music, from movies to the circus – that it is externalized as a manifestation of the consciousness of something, as Sartre would say. Then it gains the world, wins public visibility, and thus interacts with other consciousness. It has been a long time since we saw an exhibition with a little as provocative as that of the display Teimosia da Imaginação – Dez Artistas Brazileiros (Stubborn Imagination – Ten Brazilian Artists) at the Instituto Tomie Ohtake in São Paulo. In an are glutted with images from the media, which can obstruct the imagination and unfortunately lead to mental impoverishment, the ten artists of this collective are a testament to freedom and resistance. In others words, a great stimulus for us to return to navigate within our minds, this vast and limitless inner ocean.
Antônio de Dedé, Aurelino, Francisco Graciano, Getúlio Damado, Isabel Mendes, Jadir João Egídio, José Bezerra, Manoel Graciano, Nilson Pimenta and Véio – they all travel inside themselves seeking self-discovery, and out of this process they let forth strange creatures, aesthetic references, and dreams that materialize in various media, including recyclables saved from going to a landfill.
Teimosia da Imaginação is a transmedia project on Brazilian art. Besides the display at the Tomie Ohtake, it comprises a series of ten documentaries that TV Cultura aired, plus a book. This initiative was developed by the Instituto do Imaginário do Povo Brasileiro, an entity created in 2006 by people interested in preserving, and disseminating knowledge of, the imaginary of the Brazilian people through programs of research, education, and outreach, with the support of the Sao Paulo state Ministry of Culture.
“Art is something very serious, like a child of yours that is born from within itself,” says Nilson Pimenta, with characteristic simplicity, but also a pride of ownership. Born in 1956 in Caravelas, Bahia, and raised in Mato Grosso, Pimenta is now supervisor of the Ateliê Livre of the Universidade Federal do Mato Grosso, after working as a laborer, farmer, and cane cutter. The themes the he represents vary from a wedding in the Pantanal to the serial crimes of a Paulistano motoboy.
According to Francisco Graciano, a cearense born in 1965 in Juazeiro do Norte, art is something he sees in his imagination. “It flows directly, like a cartoon movie. “ Mozinho dos Bonecos – this is how he is known in Brejo Santo, a village near his hometown – carves in wood or transposes to the canvas the way the animals in the wild appear to him: very colorful and enchanted creatures, like the “mulher pato” (“woman duck”).
The power of the imaginary of master Galdino – Galdino Manoel de Freitas (born in São Caetano PE in 1924 – died in Alto do Moura PE in 1996) is such that alongside his elaborate and reverent outlaws modeled in clay we see an unlike figure spewing hideous monsters. Galdino worked in pottery, makingtiles and bricks, in Caruaru, prior to giving wings to his imagination.
Antônio de Dedé attributes his art to a gift, which emerged from the vision and desire to re-create, in his own right, his father work. Born 59 years ago in the city of Lagoa da Canoa in Alagoas, by the age of eight he was already working with his father in carpentry shop and clearing farms in the region. Among his sculptures displayed at the Tomie Ohtake, the knight who resembles a boy’s toy is specially dashing.
Armed with knife, rasp, chisel, and saw against fallen trees, stumps, and roots, pernambucano José Bezerra, born in Buíque in 1952, allows little or nothing to interfere with the way nature itself excites his imagination. From human heads to ox-carts and animals, his sculptures are delicate and touching, attracting attention from passers-by outside his studio in Vale do Catimbau.
A Mineiro from Divinópolis, born in 1933, Jadir João Egídio is among the artists of that city who in 1960s were awakened to art by the great impact of the sculptures by Geraldo Teles de Oliveira, or G.T.O., a simple man who curdled in the wood the everyday life of his land. Like a mantra of holy figures that repeat themselves next to each other and support one another, Jadir stamps strong a religious character on his sculptures, forcing the viewer into the inevitable introspection.
All of the works, whether reproduced in the book or displayed at the Insituto Tomie Ohtake, belong to the collections of major museums such as Pinacoteca do Estado, Museu Afro Brasil, Memorial da América, Museu do Folclore – RJ, Museu do Pontal – RJ, and Foundation Cartier (Paris); or to prominent priveta collections such as that of Gilberto Chateaubriand. Curator Germana Monte-Mór and deputy-curator Rodrigo Naves selected about ten reference works by each of these masters.
The book, containing a foreword by Rodrigo Naves and text and interviews with the artists edited by Maria Lucia Montes, shows the works and the artists in their respective places of work and life. “In the artist, the imagination and the imaginary that sustain them take place in the work created, but also emerge in their speech, which reveals the twilight of the reverie and dreams that lead them to the creation, I the way their hands mold the clay, distribute the colors of the paints or carve wood, in the attention of their eyes, in the effort of concentration to apply the work instrument to the matter of their creation, in the exuberance or restraint of their gestures, in the music that accompanies them, translating sometimes as a song the nostalgic evocation of a memory or the joy of an exultant body that sings and dances the meaning of the invention of the world and of themselves,” Says Maria Lucia.
A series of ten documentaries, produced by Polo de Imagem in partnership with TAL and TV Cultura, show the creative process and working environment of each artist. This is a rare recording of folk art, with executive direction by Malu Viana Batista, soundtrack by Livio Tragtenberg, and different filmmakers: Claudio Assis (for the films that focus on Francisco Graciano, Manoel Galdino and Getúlio Damado), Cecília Araújo (for Nilson Pimenta and Antônio de Dedé), Hilton Lacerda (for José Bezerra and Isabel Mendes), Rodrigo Campos (for Jadir João Egídio and Aurelino), and Adelina Pontual (for Véio).




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