OIdeal Anthropophagous, on display at Galeria Almeida e Dale, comes to fill this absence, presenting a broad panorama of his work, touching on the main guiding questions of his production. Originally conceived by the curator Kiki Mazuchelli to introduce Carvalho’s work to the English public, the show – which in the Brazilian version was able to add a greater number of works – has a clear didactic vocation, showing its various facets, in an articulation at the same time chronological and language. The extensive catalog, richly illustrated, with five analytical texts and a chronological summary (whose English version is the first publication on the author in this language) also helps in this effort to draw a more complete overview of his production.
Adopting a stripped-down montage, the exhibition presents the visitor with a very dense volume of paintings and drawings. One of the highlights is the large panel of portraits made by him over the decades, which testifies to his great appreciation for the human figure, dedicating himself almost exclusively to portraits and nudes. His interest was not in the physiognomy but in the psychological aspect of the portrayed, which makes his work close to surrealist and, later, expressionist strands. The show also brings to light experiences developed by him in the 1970s, using phosphorescent paint that glows under black light, reinforcing his interest in researching new media and materials. Carvalho painted and wrote all his life. And there is, even in his most revolutionary works, often associated with an impulsive temperament, a theoretical basis and acute conceptual reflection, Kiki recalls. At different times, and using different strategies (architecture, theater, performance action), the artist demonstrates how he anticipates, and in a very early way, the general state of the arts in the country. “His conceptual projects attest to his extraordinary feat of expanding the field of art beyond known territories and forms, thus expanding the very definition of what can be considered art”, explains the curator.
Such moments of great creative power, many of them ephemeral or unrealized, are represented in the show through extensive documentation. Carvalho was, for example, a pioneer among the first modernists of São Paulo architecture and won the admiration of avant-garde artists such as Mário and Oswald de Andrade with the project he presented in a competition held for the São Paulo Government Palace in 1927, under the suggestive pseudonym of Efficiency. In 1931, he carried out Experience no. two, a blunt act against false Catholic morals, walking provocatively against a Corpus Christi procession with his head covered by a beret, being almost lynched by the population. At Experience no. two, held almost thirty years later, hits the patriarchal morals in full when he decides to parade through the streets of the city using the New Look, a costume that she had developed as the ideal outfit for men, exchanging the traditional suit and tie for a pleated skirt, a light, puffy blouse, and fishnet stockings to hide varicose veins.
In dialogue with his more plastic work, the diversity of experiences and the often rebellious and performative character of his work, difficult to be translated into exhibition elements due to its ephemeral and conceptual character, becomes more concrete. Replicas of the masks used in the play The Ballet of the Dead God (originally written in 1931) and re-enacted by Teatro Oficina Uzyna Uzona on a few occasions, including the opening of the exhibition, coexist, for example, with a select set of paintings also from the 1930s, right at the opening of the exhibition.
His ability to subvert patterns and try to establish new bases for reflection on the place of man and art in the world is impressive. He wasn't afraid of combat. He challenged society, stood against the moralistic hypocrisy of an extremely religious society. “All his life he was interested in two fields of knowledge: psychoanalysis, relatively new at that time, and ethnology”, explains Kiki. It is through the confluence of these two fields, through a permanent desire to try to understand the world based on behaviors constructed since ancient times, that the curator interprets her very diverse production.
Another interesting aspect of the selection is the emphasis it places on the artist's broad social network, which in a way contradicts the current idea that Carvalho was a lonely, marginalized man. From a wealthy family, with many contacts in the artistic and social milieu of São Paulo, he maintained close relationships with the circle of first-generation modernists (the very title of the show, ideal man-eater, takes up a laudatory nickname given to him by Oswald de Andrade) and took an active part in actions to bring together the artistic milieu, such as the foundation of the Clube dos Artistas Modernos (CAM).
Berlin – After England, where the artist lived between 1914 and 1922 but where his work had never been exhibited before, it will be the turn of the German public to get to know his work more closely, whose disruptive, experimental and critical character will be of central importance at the Berlin Biennale. of next year. “His interest in mass psychology (Freud) allows us to analyze ideas of homeland, religious fanaticism, fear, the organization of crowds, lynchings, fake news and dissident bodies in the public space”, says Lisette Lagnado, one of the event’s curators. “For us, Flávio is an anti-hero”, she summarizes.