"Pau-Brasil", 1974, Glauco Rodrigues. Photo: Jaime Acioli/Courtesy Bergamin & Gomide

Sample Turns out we are cannibals!, by Glauco Rodrigues (1929-2004), has a samba school atmosphere, full of colors and allegories, born under the influence of pop art. The paintings on display in the gallery Bergamin & Gomide they are like a gesture of rescuing the artist who was forgotten for a while. For Lilia Schwarcz, who signs the text for the exhibition, this occurred “perhaps because it did not correspond or did not obviously fit into the canons of modernism at the time”. Thiago Gomide, owner of the gallery along with Antonia Bergamin, remembers that they exhibited Glauco almost two years ago at the collective The stupidity of men (2019), curated by Fernanda Brenner, from pivot, and who intend to work with him, without exclusivity.

“Portrait of Henriette Amado”, 1970, Glauco Rodrigues. Photo: Ding Musa/Courtesy Bergamin & Gomide

Glauco's universe is populated by disparate characters, coming from different eras, living simultaneously in the present, past and future. Everything apparently disconnected, but brilliantly performed within a cognitive logic with a world at times exhilarating, at times apocalyptic. This catches the attention of French critic Nicolas Bourriaud, who dedicated a room to Glauco in the exhibition L'Ange de l'Histoire (Angel of History) in 2013 at the École Nationale de Beaux Arts in Paris. At the time, the magazine Art Press publishes an article and places Glauco's work on the cover. In 2019, Bourriaud again exhibits Glauco at the Istanbul Biennale, when he was the general curator, and breaks the paradigm that Brazilian art always has to go through the constructive project, the concrete and neo-concrete ones.

The São Paulo exhibition brings together, for the most part, works from the 1960s and 1970s made in the climate of the counterculture, the Vietnam War and the Brazilian dictatorship. The paintings are singular, progressive and reaffirm the ballast of a multiple artist, apparently simple, but conceptually sophisticated, who moved through various segments of art. Painter, graphic artist, engraver, he executed costumes and sets for theater, album and magazine covers, putting knowledge at the service of a personal revolution with images crudely included on canvases that are always white, like fragments gravitating in space. He only started to paint the base of his paintings at the end of the military dictatorship.

All the works deal with the country's carnival history within an eclectic universe that mixes from the image of São Sebastião, patron saint of Bagé, his hometown, and Rio de Janeiro to girls in bikinis, tropical nature, photos of friends, Corcovado , Indians, bunches of bananas and samba school dancers. Glauco's ideas are profane, even when he portrays Christ and some saints, all wrapped in the colors of the Brazilian flag that dye all of his paintings. With this, he confirms his intentions loaded with criticism of the social political moment of the time, such as the canvas Turns out, we are cannibals! naming the exhibition.

Glauco was born in 1929, in Bagé, Rio Grande do Sul, where he started in art as an engraver, then moved to Porto Alegre and joined the engravers Carlos Scliar and Vasco Prado. In 1958 he arrived in Rio and, a year later, joined the first team of Senhor magazine (1959-1964), where he worked with Jaguar, Paulo Francis, without leaving his art aside. With the award at the IX National Salon of Modern Art, he traveled to Europe and participated in the Young Biennale of Paris, in 1961. An invitation took him to live in Rome from 1962 to 1965 and there he participated in the Venice Biennale of 1964, when he met American pop art. He sees Robert Rauschenberg receive the Golden Lion and become almost a hero. After all, he was the first North American artist to receive the grand prize at the oldest Bienal in the world (1895). Pop art impacts Glauco. He returns to Brazil and begins his Brazilian mythology, with a futuristic pop aesthetic mixed with critical tropicalism.

In Rio, he is part of the Opinion 66 show, at MAM do Rio, alongside Lygia Clark, Hélio Oiticica, Antonio Dias and Carlos Vergara. He creates works on the debatable “Brazilian miracle”, with the canvas Our Food Is Abundant! (1977). It denounces colonialism and the exploitation of indigenous people in Persona (1974). Makes social criticism through the legend Coati-Purú, a member of the series Earth Vision: The Legend of Coati-Purú (1977). in your painting The Brazilian Destroyer – D'aprés Pedro Américo, Victor Meirelles, Almeida Junior and Pedro Moraes, he critically revisits the work of these artists.

Glauco's art, theorized by critics such as Frederico de Morais, Ferreira Gullar and Roberto Pontual, gains new contours with Bourriaud. In the interview with filmmaker José Teixeira de Brito for the 2015 documentary Glauco do Brasil (published later in the book Glauco Rodrigues – Anachronistic and always current chronicles of Brazil, by Denise Mattar), he states: “What is evident in Rodrigues' work is that he recovers fragments of history, remains of images that come from heterogeneous times and places. From that point of view he is very contemporary. Starting from a small fragment, reconstructing the destroyed building is a feature of current art that Glauco Rodrigues anticipated”, concludes Bourriaud.

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