From the 18th of May, the Museum of Images of the Unconscious (MII) opens the virtual exhibition Three Engenho Artists From Within, with an unprecedented cut that brings together 90 works little known by the public, by Adelina Gomes (1916-1984), Fernando Diniz (1918-1999) and Octávio Ignácio (1916-1980). Curated by Marco Antonio Teobaldo, Luiz Carlos Mello and Eurípedes Gomes da Cruz Júnior, its launch takes place, not by chance, on May 18, the date that marks the National Anti-Asylum Struggle Day. On the same day, to signal the opening of the exhibition, there will be a virtual conversation with the curators and Erika Silva, director of the Nise da Silveira Municipal Institute, Heloísa Helena Queiroz, Museum Manager at the Municipal Department of Culture, and Marco Lucchesi, president of the Brazilian Academy of Letters. The conversation will be available live on the MII channel, access this link.
Three Engenho Artists From Within will be long-term and bilingual (Portuguese/English), to expand access to the museum's collection, an institution founded by psychiatrist Nise da Silveira in 1952, in the Engenho de Dentro neighborhood, in the North Zone of Rio de Janeiro. Today, the Museum of Images of the Unconscious has a collection of 400 works. Of these, 128 were listed by IPHAN. So far, 22 thousand of them have already been inventoried by the museum as a result of its selection (for two consecutive years) as one of the institutions in the area of Heritage Defense to be contemplated by the public notice of parliamentary amendments by the Dep. Marcelo Calero. While waiting for the funds to be released by the federal government for those selected in 2020, the museum is finalizing the possible actions thanks to the funds received by the amendment in 2019. According to the museum's organization, as soon as the funds are released for those contemplated in November 2020, the MII will reach the cataloging and digitization of 64 thousand works – half of the set listed by IPHAN.
This collection is the result of the production made by psychiatric patients in the workshops created in 1946 by Dr. Nise, a pioneering work in psychiatry, which inspired the Brazilian Psychiatric Reform. The selection of only 30 works by each artist, considering precisely the size of the archive, was one of the challenges noted by Marco Antonio Teobaldo. He points out that the task was only possible thanks to Luiz Carlos Mello, director of the MII and winner of the Jabuti Prize for Ways of a Rebel Psychiatrist, and Eurípedes Gomes da Cruz Júnior, vice president of the Friends of the MII Society and curator of the National Museum of Fine Arts. Both have been linked to the museum for almost five decades and, in addition to having lived with the artists, “they have the ability to rescue the memories contained in the works”, according to Teobaldo. In the show, each work chosen is accompanied by information on its size, technique used by the artist and the year of creation. The exhibition also features mini-biographies of the three artists, critical texts on the works of each of them, as well as comments by Nise herself.
Forums Three Engenho Artists From Within, for the future the Museum of Images of the Unconscious still plans a digitization of three of the fifteen documentaries carried out by the museum team under the supervision of Nise herself, and directed by Luiz Carlos Mello: Emygdio: a path to infinity, The Horses of Octávio Ignacio e Archeology of the Psyche. Along with Editora Vozes, new printings of the books are also planned. The World of Images e Images of the Unconscious, currently sold out.
about the artists
Daughter of Peasants, Adelina Gomes was born in 1916, in the city of Campos dos Goytacazes, Rio de Janeiro. Painter and sculptor, she was hospitalized in 1937, at the age of 21, at the D. Pedro II Psychiatric Center, in Engenho de Dentro. There, at the Occupational Therapeutics Section (STO), she attended the Painting and Modeling Workshop. At first, Gomes dedicated himself to working in clay and then moved on to painting. Until her death she produced about 17.500 works. In the movie Images of the Unconscious, by Leon Hirszman, the episode dedicated to Adelina is entitled in the kingdom of mothers, due to analyzes made by Nise in which the psychiatrist associates Adelina's production with female figures through her biography.
“There is a subtlety at the beginning of the film that dialogues with the artist's production: the first sequence shows Adelina walking through a hospital wing holding a bag. Cut to her leaving through the hospital gate, and in the next scene, she is seen picking flowers. Finally, before the narration of Nise's text, there is another cut for the artist inside the hospital studio. Adelina leaves the frame holding the same bag and the camera focuses on a flower – one of those collected – inside the room. In a very subtle way, Hirszman suggests a fusion between the artist’s body and the flower”, writes the curator Raphael Fonseca.
For him, “whether large and in profile, or in a composition that seems more theatrical, his paintings refer to the body as a central element – even when integrated with images that sometimes dialogue with what we conventionally call landscape or still life”. Fonseca adds that “it is the way the artist paints this body, however, that will give this tone of metamorphosis: it is difficult to look at this series of images and not perceive the intelligence as she applies and experiences color”.
“Even though in most of these works his usual greens and blues predominate, there is a constant use of strong colors that cause a disconcerting contrast between reds, yellows, oranges and pinks. Adelina's painting is permeated by the suggestion of movements given by this chromatism”, concludes the curator.
fernando diniz was born in Aratu, Bahia, in 1918. At the age of four, he came to Rio de Janeiro with his mother. In July 1944, he was arrested and taken to the Judicial Asylum. Five years later, in 1949, he went to the Pedro II Psychiatric Center, where he began to attend the STO. For Mário Pedrosa, Fernando was an authentic painter whose decorative force, which he was profoundly endowed with, never disarmed. “Rhythm and color are always organized, alternating in order and grace. The concentric exercises with which Fernando fills paper and more papers end up organizing true universal gears like systems that, if they come from chaos, are more similar to watchmakers in search of an intuited order”, wrote the art critic. His production at the museum is estimated at around 30 works: canvases, drawings, rugs and models, including the award-winning cartoon eight pointed star, for which he made more than 40 thousand illustrations under the guidance of filmmaker Marcos Magalhães. In it, one notices the constant presence of geometry, marked by the image of the circle, which represents the ordering forces of the psyche.
Octavio Ignacio was born in 1916, in the state of Minas Gerais. He had primary education, was a worker and locksmith. He got married and had a son. After his first hospitalization, in 1950, 11 readmissions followed. From 1966 onwards, Ignácio began to attend the Museum's painting studio on a day-to-day basis. “After 12 admissions, he started to draw and paint, and after that he was not readmitted. Octávio represented the future, the transition between the old and cruel system of traditional psychiatry and the revolution initiated by Nise, based on affection and freedom: today, in the studios of the Museum of Images of the Unconscious, everyone is free from asylum. He had a restless and cheerful personality, which is reflected in his creative work”, as Eurípedes Gomes da Cruz Junior points out. The artist attended the studio until his death in 1980.
In her work, the conflict between male/female opposites is remarkable, where intense desires erupt. “Many of his drawings reveal this drama at a level close to consciousness, when opposites take human form. They appear in the form of fighting couples or of their masculine body acquiring feminine characteristics. Ignacio feels threatened, he perceives the strength of the feminine within himself, but despite this he fights so that the masculine principle is not completely defeated”, reads an archive of the Museum of Images of the Unconscious. “Under the pressure of the violent conflict the psyche split. It split but not annulled. The dynamism of unconscious forces is constant – instinctively a process develops to promote reconciliation between the warring male/female opposites”.