View of the entrance to Pinacoteca do Ceará, inaugurated on December 3, 2022. Photo: Marília Camelo

The current administration of the government of Ceará is leaving an impressive legacy of cultural heritage in museums and cultural equipment that total no less than more than 100 m², adding the area of ​​the Estação das Artes, where the Pinacoteca do Ceará, the Centro Cultural Cariri and the renovated Museu da Imagem e do Som Chico Albuquerque (MIS).

These are impressive numbers, especially after the policy of scorched earth in culture undertaken by the federal government that ends in 2022, having reduced the release of resources in the Culture Incentive Law from R$ 241 million per year to R$ 36 million, according to data obtained by the transitional government.

This achievement in Ceará is the result of an “environment of resistance”, as defined by the Secretary of Culture of the State of Ceará, Fabiano Piúba, who has been in office for seven years. He started as assistant secretary at the beginning of Camilo Santana's first term, which began in 2015, and the following year he became secretary. After two terms, Camilo was now elected senator for Ceará and his vice-president, Izolda Cela, inaugurated the new facilities delivered, such as the Pinacoteca, in December.

This policy began to be defined in 2016, when Juca Ferreira was Minister of Culture, in the midst of the coup against President Dilma Rousseff. “Juca's last act was the convening of a meeting of the National Council for Cultural Policy because we knew it was important to create an environment of resistance”, says Fabiano, who was the president of this Council during the Temer years. In 2016, the president even extinguished the Ministry of Culture, but backtracked after a week of protests.

This context is important to point out how the creation of these new equipment is part of the perception of the importance of State policies in times of crisis, which became more serious with the de facto extinction of the Ministry of Culture in the Bolsonaro administration. “The Ministry was reduced to a very small secretariat and refounding it now will be a lot of work”, predicts Fabiano. Even so, the National Forum of Secretaries of Culture obtained important gains through the National Congress, through the Aldir Blanc Act, which raised R$ 3 billion for the sector.

Overview of the exhibition "Love is learned by loving", dedicated to the artist from Ceará, Antonio Bandeira. Photo: Marília Camelo
Overview of the exhibition “Love is learned by loving”, dedicated to the artist from Ceará, Antonio Bandeira. Photo: Marília Camelo

If at the federal level there was dismantling, the student secretariats, such as Ceará, assumed the role of “micro ministries”, also in Fabiano’s definition: “And the Northeast ended up exercising the function of a light on in Brazil, assuming cultural resistance, with the principles of citizenship and diversity, affirmative policies and free expression of thought and creation gestated during Gilberto Gil's exercise as a minister.”

Fabiano also credits Governor Camilo Santana's education with his interest in and appreciation for culture in management. “We were lucky to have a governor who understands the role and place of culture”, he says, expressing this perception in numbers: Ceará went from having an annual budget for culture at home of R$ 63 million to almost R$ 300 million in 2022. Thus, in eight years, investment in culture exceeded R$ 1,3 billion. São Paulo, with a budget of BRL 82 billion – that of Ceará is three times smaller, around BRL 28,7 billion -, passed on to culture, in 2022, BRL 645 million. That is, proportionally, Ceará invests much more in culture than São Paulo.

All new equipment is under the care of the Portuguese architect José Manuel Carvalho Araújo, who was directly invited to undertake the task. His interventions, discreet and respectful of the history of each location, pay a certain tribute to his fellow countryman Álvaro Siza, especially for the choice of materials and modernity in the line. 

Araújo is the author of several commercial projects in São Paulo, as well as Portugal, and his name came from a group that for years wanted to create a space for photography in the city, composed, among others, by photographer Tiago Santana, organizer of Fotofestival Solar and brother of Camilo, university professor Silas de Paula, current director of MIS, and artist Rian Fontenele, current director of Pinacoteca do Estado. This group ended up forming a kind of council for the implementation of new projects, so much so that some of them now assume managerial roles in their implementation.

This complex consists of the Estação das Artes, the former Ceará railway station, where the Pinacoteca do Estado, the new headquarters of the Secretariat of Culture, Iphan, the Railway Museum and the Design Center are located, plus the expansion of the Image Museum and Sound, and the Centro Cultural Cariri, in the interior of the state, where a religious seminary operated before and later a hospital. In addition to exhibition spaces, it will feature a theater and planetarium.

The administration of these equipments is done by an OS (social organization), the Instituto Mirante de Arte e Cultura, created for this function. It is important to remember that the first OS dedicated to culture in the country was created precisely in Fortaleza to take care of the Dragão do Mar Center of Art and Culture, opened in 1999, a complex that houses, among others, the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Museum of Cearense Culture.

Clébson Francisco, “Independence and death”, 2019. Photo: Fabio Cypriano
picture gallery

Inaugurated on December 3, the Pinacoteca has a total area of ​​9,2 square meters, with an exhibition area of ​​3 square meters and a technical reserve of 869 square meters, an area larger than the exhibition space of the Museum of Modern Art of São Paulo, with furniture specially designed for her, which reinforces the seriousness of the entire project. Coincidentally, the coordinator of the new technical reserve is Cláudia Falcon, who previously held this position at MAM São Paulo.

For the Secretary of Culture, Fabiano Piúba, the creation of the Pinacoteca is part of a policy of institutional strengthening, which dates back to the late 1980s with Violeta Arraes (1926-2008) as Secretary of Culture in the Tasso Jereissati government , when Theatro José de Alencar was recovered, and later with Paulo Linhares, Ciro Gomes government secretary, in the late 1990s, who created the Dragão do Mar. “I often say that there is no specific policy for a library, a Pinacoteca or a museum. What exists are policies to promote the arts, cultural heritage and memory, artistic and cultural training, citizenship and diversity and how these cultural facilities are environments for thinking, formulating and executing these cultural policies”, explains Fabiano.

Flag and Aldemir, 100

In the case of Pinacoteca, a central part of its mission is to receive an important collection that has been accumulated over decades and that was scattered in offices and spaces that were not very suitable, still being catalogued. Recently, through the Aldir Blanc law, R$ 2 million was spent to expand the collection taking into account gender and race representation.

It is possible to have an idea of ​​the scope of this collection taking into account only one of the inaugural exhibitions, Love is learned by loving, dedicated to the artist from Ceará, Antonio Bandeira (1922-1967), which has 645 works on display and, of this total, only one is borrowed, all the others are from the Pinacoteca itself. “Most of the works here have never been exhibited and it is a cut that goes far beyond the whitewashed view that the market created about Bandeira”, reveals the curator of the exhibition, Bitu Cassundé, who has Chico Porto as assistant.  

He had to fight to get some iconic works by Bandeira out of government offices, but the result is very impressive. Bitu presents an artist far beyond the abstract, as he is better known, and his various relationships, in Brazil and abroad, with the arts circuit, including his proximity to the architect Lina Bo Bardi, who inaugurated the Museum of Modern Art of Bahia, at Teatro Castro Alves, in 1960, with an exhibition dedicated to him. Bandeira, who lived in Paris in his final years, is still little celebrated for his self-portraits, two of which are on show, which empowered him as a homosexual and black artist, a rare feat in the middle of the last century. 

Antonio Bandeira, “Self-portrait in the mirror”, 1945. Photo: Divulgaçãp

Bandeira was also a friend of another artist from Ceará who was born in the same year as him, Aldemir Martins (1922-2006), theme of another of the Pinacoteca's inaugural exhibitions, In life's pencil there is no eraser, in charge of curator Rosely Nakagawa, with Waléria Américo as assistant. With that, the Pinacoteca is inaugurated on the centenary of two local artists, with exhibitions that expand the repertoire on each of them. In the case of Aldemir, his work goes beyond the known cats and roosters, presenting a master artist of the line and very attentive to the local culture.

Finally, the series of exhibitions that opens the Pinacoteca is a broad survey of contemporary art from Ceará, entitled to plow, in charge of Cecília Bedê, Herbert Rolim, Lucas Dilacerda, Maria Macedo and Adriana Botelho. With 169 artists from different generations, from Jose Leonilson (1957-1993) to Clébson Francisco (1994), the exhibition provides a striking overview of the local scene, marked by wide diversity. Of the total exhibited, 91 works are from the Pinacoteca collection.

In addition to the collection and exhibitions, the Pinacoteca is seen, according to its director Rian Fontenele, as a “studio museum”. “As an artist, I know that even a notebook can be seen as a studio, but the idea here is that the Pinacoteca is a space for experimentation, reflection, reference and memory”, he says. 

The set of three inaugural exhibitions is called beautiful to rain, a Ceará expression that is said when the sky is heavy, and water comes around. It is a title that is quite adequate to the result of what the “environment of resistance” is creating in Ceará: a radical transformation in its cultural panorama. 

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