Debret's Traumatic Updates, 2019-2021, Ge Viana
"Debret's Traumatic Updates, 2019-2021", Gê Viana. Courtesy CCBB.

EOn display at the Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil in Rio de Janeiro until November 22 and on its way to the São Paulo unit (from December 15 to March 7, 2022), the exhibition Post-Modernism Brazilianity it was not thought to have a historical look, but focused on the present. With 51 works produced from the 1960s to the present day, there are also some new ones, that is, already produced with a maturity and a historical distance from the beginnings of Brazilian modernity, as the curator of the group show, Tereza de Arruda, comments. For her, the Brazilianness mentioned in the title is diversified and mixed, regional and cosmopolitan, popular and erudite, folk and urban. “We have here a production of painting, photography, drawing, sculpture, installation, new media, among others, as defenders of national artistic diversity through the range of means and languages”.

The research process and negotiations with the artists began in 2018. Some works in the show were borrowed from private collections, others came directly from the creators' studio. “In the process of preparing the show, there was an intense exchange with the participating artists and, from then on, many made works especially for Post-Modernism Brazilianity, as is the case of Clinging to Power, by Luiz Hermano, Biomes Series, by Armarinhos Teixeira, West Indies, by Lucia Simons, Earth so lonely, by Marlene Almeida, The visit to the ancestors, by Jaider Esbell – recently deceased -, as well as the suspended installation by Francisco de Almeida”, says Tereza.

This diverse production is spread over six thematic nuclei that obey the order of the route: Freedom, Identity, Nature, Future, Aesthetics and Poetry. The organization, therefore, seeks to invite the visitor to an immersion: “We thought with the team about a certain dramaturgy, composed of elements such as specific color and light as part of the expography to demarcate the topics covered”, explains Tereza. As an example, in the centers dedicated to Freedom and Identity, the works are inserted in a more closed environment of light for an introspective invitation. “The light gradually opens up along the way, and we find ourselves in the Aesthetics and Poetry nuclei with a clear environment that enhances the vitality exposed there”, adds the curator.

"Voluta e Cercadura", 2013, Adriana Varejão. Photo: Jaime Acioli.
“Voluta e Cercadura”, 2013, Adriana Varejão. Photo: Jaime Acioli.

From the first axis, freedom comes in the name of decoloniality, but also of resistance to forced modernity. In this context, there are several works in the exhibition to be mentioned. Teresa highlights the collage Debret's Traumatic Updates (2019-2021), by Gê Viana, where a drone appears in the crosshairs of an indigenous bow; Tile (Neoconcrete), by Adriana Varejão, which shows the worn-out European colonial legacy, “full of craquelês to undo and demystify its aesthetic and socio-cultural power”; the series Brazilian-style geometry arrives in a tropical paradise, by Rosana Paulino, who, according to the curator, also warns of the potential for Brazilian characteristics to overlay Eurocentrist precepts; and finally, the works Roll with yellow disk e Brazil 1500-1996, de Anna Bella Geiger, which allude to territorial defense and recognition – the latter, by the way, one of the mottos of Brazilian modernism. As the art critic and historian Aracy Amaral explains, “in Brazil, internationalism and nationalism were simultaneously the basic characteristics of the modernist movement that took place in letters and the arts from the middle of the second decade of the last century”.

"Brazil, 1500-1996", Anna Bella Geiger. Courtesy CCBB.
“Brazil, 1500-1996”, Anna Bella Geiger. Courtesy CCBB.

According to the historian, nationalism would come as a result of “an eagerness for affirmation after the establishment of the Republic (1889), and from then onwards the desire of intellectuality to break with the 19th century and academicism in the visual arts was implicit”. With that, it aimed to assume our physical and cultural reality, until then despised by the elite, who identified with Europe.

"World Cup, Football" (1974), Glauco Rodrigues. Courtesy CCBB.
“World Cup, Football” (1974), Glauco Rodrigues. Courtesy CCBB.

Toward this issue, in Post-Modernism Brazilianity, Identity is one of the most interesting nuclei of the show, reflecting precisely on the idea of ​​a national identification and at what moment it flows into our private lives, or overlaps, and even what elements would be part of this supposed single image. For Tereza, the centenary of the Week of Modern Art provides an opportune moment for debates of this nature. “Each season new answers to reinvented questions. This is an opportunity for the public to repair. Notice: look, observe, notice! We are repairing: reviewing, restoring, renewing!”, she says, also pointing out the need for an innovative discussion that meets the demand of our time.

The occasion to revisit the Week of 22 and critically reassess it should not go unnoticed. As researcher Christina Queiroz and FFLCH-USP professor Maria Arminda do Nascimento Arruda remind us, critical revisitations of modernism only took shape from the 1990s onwards. was beyond any analysis. This happened, in part, due to the involvement of figures linked to the modernist cultural scene with the creation of USP. Thus, it is necessary to emphasize the importance of studying modernism throughout the country and not considering it as a repercussion of what was happening in São Paulo.

Another point to be revisited is the issue of protagonism. According to Tereza, the modernist artists tried to get closer to “the other” – the representative of Brazilian regionalism. “Today we see this posture in parts as an appropriation of a legacy from the other. It took a centenary and a long process of recognition, awareness, assimilation and integration to reach the essence of contemporary Brazilian art presented in Post-Modernism Brazilianity, with artists representing different ethnicities, generations and geographical origins”, he reflects.

For now, the show continues at CCBB Rio de Janeiro, which recently launched a virtual tour of Post-Modernism Brazilianity. check out here.

Read also Expansion of the debate on Brazilian modernism guides exhibitions in large institutions, highlighting the role of decorative and applied arts and the production of names such as John Graz and the Gomide brothers. check out here.

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