15/05/2009 | Versatille Magazine

The Brazilian imagination. To call it popular art is almost humiliating it. Not that something popular is bad, after all, we are part of the people, and “the people” is different from poverty or scarcity. Unfortunately, this term has acquired a negative connotation to the ears of many Brazilians who are ignorant of the attributes to understand it. However, it is the creation of honest and truly national artists that has attracted the attention of foreign collectors. This is justified, as this is unique in the world and brings out the lifestyle and roots of a people as multicultural as ours. It is a shame that we don’t yet have the eyes to see it. When she was young, one year after getting married, businesswoman Vilma Eid received from her mother the right to choose a work of art as a present. This was in 1970 more or less. In an old and now closed art gallery on Oscar Freire Avenue in São Paulo (SP), she entered and was captivated by a simple yet pure painting – a painting depicting two oxen. This was a work by primitive artist José Antonio da Silva. She was advised to the contrary by the marchand. It seemed that the salesperson felt it was more interesting to put a contemporary name in the living room. “However, I never forgot that work… On the first opportunity that arose, I tried to meet José Antonio da Silva and I have been a collector of his works to this day. That was just the first spark of awareness that I had my eyes aimed at the imagination of the Brazilian people”, says Vilma. She, who is now surely one of the largest owners of collections of national popular art, ended up gathering so many pieces that, some 15 years ago, she realised she had the base of a museum at home. “I then opened the Estação Gallery, as I wanted to make everything available for public visitation. However, soon people made requests to buy pieces, so nowadays we sell as well”, she explains. However, this segment of artistic work has not received the due space or acknowledgement. There is not a single museum which brings together the production of popular art in the country. Since 2006, the Institute of the Imagination of the Brazilian People tries to make efforts to promote this side of our culture. Vilma believes that popular art has never been showcased as much as contemporary, modern or academic art. For this reason, never having been put at the same level for comparison, popular art is not understood. There is not even a book about this subject. The only work, heroically produced, is that by Lélia Coelho Frota, the “Small Dictionary of the Art of the Brazilian People”. “The greatest error that people commit is that of confusing popular art with handicrafts, with those ‘pretty items’ that you take to the beach or country home”, she clarifies. The purity of daily life, In truth, popular art is pure – a quality which is surely missing these days. Not only by the sentimental beauty of knowing that the artists that execute it are self-learners, and have not had a formal education. Indeed, many of them are actually illiterate, or children of humble people or agricultural workers. What really makes them stand out is the detachment from foreign or external influences. Culturally, in the age of globalisation and the Internet, it is a real skill to remain in good standing. “Normally these artists portray their daily lives and use their own language, not yet contaminated”, the businesswoman says. Vilma also leads the Institute of the Imagination and dreams of protecting this “live culture” of our country. "Nowadays, whoever buys and purchases is someone with a sophisticated soul. However, most hail from outside the country, which makes me very sad”, she completes. Please click on the picture to read the full article.

Galeria Estação