20/12/2017 | El País - The matrix wood of Santidio Pereira

The matrix wood of Santidio Pereira
Born in Piauí, the artist who works with woodcutting seeks his voice in the arts.

André de Oliveira
December 20 2018

Until about seven years old the only painting that Santidio Pereira knew was that of a serene and calm Our Lady in a green cloak that hung on the wall of his house. In early childhood, surrounded by the “caatinga” of the hinterlands of Piauí, he did not know much. Little did I know what electric power or running water was, nor anything about the German advent of the Volkswagen Beetle - "on the bus to São Paulo, I remember a boy telling us to count the Beetles that we saw passing by, but I did not even know what Beetles were." and, of course, I had no idea about the arts.” But Curral Cumprido, the rural neighborhood of the tiny Piauí municipality of Isaías Coelho, from where he left with his family in 1996, is present in everything he does.

In the small atelier recently built in Vila Tiradentes, in the western part of the capital of São Paulo, Santidio is handling stilts of more than one and a half meters. Carved, they are the matrix of his woodcuts in large format. The new work, a series of 16 birds from the caatinga - caburé, garrincha, lambu, juriti etc. - is being prepared for an exhibition that will take place at Galeria Estação in early 2018. For now, the artist is testing colors, compositions. The woodcuts grab immediate attention for two reasons: the size of the prints and the superposition of colors and forms that results in elusive images.

In 2016, he debuted successfully in the São Paulo artistic circuit at the same Galeria Estação, where he is now a house artist. The critic Rodrigo Naves, who also wrote the catalog of the exhibition, curated the debut. The two met during an Art History course and, shortly afterwards, the idea of the show came up. "For the critic who faces for the first time with such a promising job, it is almost impossible not to project a long and grandiose trajectory on initial works," Naves wrote at the time. "Many times this enthusiasm turns out to be illusory, so now we can only hope that this young and talented artist will not forget the difficulties of the beginning of his trajectory, when - and if it is - the time comes for the singing of the mermaids to touch his ears”, he concluded.

And he's excited. At age 21, Santidio was able to set up his studio, buy tools, marry, have a little girl, and get into a university entrance exam and bang! As he talks about his work and decisions, the slang appears in your mouth all the time. It is almost as if it sums up the moment of new possibilities that he lives. Bought better tools and bang! He opted for red and yellow, warm colors that remind him of the colorful dresses his grandmother wore in Curral Cumprido - and which, perhaps not by chance, are the colorations found mostly in the “caatinga” landscape and therefore also in his work - -and bang! Now, with the studio at his disposal, he wants to test new ideas, maybe abandon the figurative, and risk more dreamlike images and bang!

"Santidio makes poetry since he was a child. He has this sensitive eye for the world, in the choices of the images; he always had an artistic concern ", says Fabrício Lopez, who was a wood engraver professor at the Instituto Acaia, the NGO in which he began his studies as soon as he arrived in São Paulo. Lopez explains that everything has to do with the place where the institution is located: between the projects of the Nine, the Line and “Cingapura “, three neighboring communities of Ceasa, the city's supply center, in Vila Leopoldina. Santidio, who before studying woodcutting, went through carpentry and drawing workshops, as soon as he discovered the technique, at age 12, he went on engraving the stilt walls of the house where he lived with his family.

Ceasa's xilo", as the institute's arts study group became known, attracted an entire generation of boys who, like Santidio, worked as porters and helpers at Ceasa to raise extra money. "The contact with the wood that woodcut requires is a frank confrontation with the material, so it is something that has a lot to do with the boys who studied in Acaia and lived this routine of work in Ceasa. And Santidio had that to spare, "says Lopez, who is an artist and also works with woodcuts in large format. Some of the boys took the NGO classes for professional life, such as designers or technicians. Santidio, however, always had a more artistic look.

"He's pure Brazil. It's a boy who is around. He came from Piauí, and he lives in the projects. His life history is about pure inequality and overcoming. The guy to achieve this path of self-esteem needs to have a lot of strength and courage, "says Lopez. "Now his way is open. He can do whatever he wants, go wherever he wants, "he says. For now, Santidio is testing the possibilities of woodcutting, teaching in cultural centers, and creating his references. He prefers the work of Japanese
Ukiyo-e prints. He cites the artists of the 19th century, Hiroshige, Hokusai and Utamaro, but says he would love his works to be confused with paintings. He has sought to abolish black, so typical of woodcut, to work only with colors. He is obsessed with them and therefore would like to discover all the secrets of Matisse.

Another day he began a series he called "views of the sea." However, the sea in question is the tank - a kind of common pond in very dry regions - where he played as a child. He has not yet hit the composition, but, colorfully, he passes away from the figurative, pointing to what Santidio has been looking for recently. That's the job, he says, and he expects life to take him back to Piauí in six years. In São Paulo there is nothing for him. All his references are in the histories of Nasrudin-species of fables-of his great-grandfather. And, of course, in the caatinga and its red, yellow, sunburned horizon.

“- I make woodcut because I like it, I do not expect to get rich with it, now I'm happy that the work pays for itself. What I make from woodcutting, I use in the work itself. I do not need a Camaro, I do not need the luxury. I want to go to college and study History or Arts, go back to Piauí, teach there, build a studio and a bang”.

Galeria Estação