About Drawing in Brazil
"About Drawing in Brazil" Claudio Mubarac (Org.) Editora Escola da Cidade, 260 Pages - Price R$70,00

About Drawing in Brazil, a book organized by Claudio Mubarac and recently published by Editora da Escola da Cidade, fills a gap, bringing the reflection on drawing — which is usually relegated to a secondary position in the teaching of the arts in Brazil — to the place of protagonist. Bringing together sparse texts, representative of different historical moments and a powerful set of images, the work brings a selection of seven studies on the subject. This dive is greatly enriched by the option of accompanying each of the essays with works by artists close, in time and in style, to the authors of the written analyses.

The option to merge image and text, in that order, is a kind of positioning, a way of putting theoretical discourse and artistic work on an equal footing. Thus, instigating dialogues are established between Joachim Lebreton and Jean-Baptiste Debret; Rui Barbosa and Henrique Bernardelli; Mario de Andrade and Lasar Segall. In the cases of Lucio Costa, Vilanova Artigas and Flavio Motta, they are authors of both the written reflection and the accompanying drawings, further deepening the intelligent relationship between the two forms of expression proposed by the work.

The opening reflection, essential for all who study the history of art in Brazil, is the detailed project presented by Joaquim Lebreton, head of the French Mission, in 1816 and unpublished until 1958. Addressed to the Conde da Barca, the writing presents a detailed proposal for the foundation of an education system in the country. It is actually a project with two bases: it defends the creation of an Imperial School of Fine Arts and also of a Liceu das Artes — which would only come into being decades later. He defends the need to stimulate, at the same time, the science of drawing as the basis of art and as a vital technique for the formation of a skilled workforce.

Similar questions run through subsequent texts. The writings of Ruy Barbosa and Lucio Costa, related to educational reform projects initiated in the 1880s and 1930s, respectively, also emphasize the need to incorporate the art and tool of illustration, sketching, and design in the teaching of young people, enabling them to not only to technique, but to a formal sensibility, developing an aesthetic quality whose germination is necessary for not only economic but also cultural progress in the country, which yearned for an accelerated update and national modernization.Mario de Andrade, Vilanova Artigas and Flávio Motta, the authors of the subsequent essays, adopt different and complementary points of view. What fascinates Mubarac in Andrade's essay on Lasar Segall is its poetic tone, its daring attempt to scrutinize the relationship between visual work and writing. “If for Lucio Costa, scribbling is not a drawing, for Mario de Andrade it is”, exemplifies the artist and professor at the School of Communications and Arts (ECA-USP), who has been digging up texts and reflections on the subject for a long time. “I'm not a theorist, I'm a designer who likes to study”, he jokes.

The appreciation of diversity, of the importance of considering the different ways of thinking/making/tracing images, sets the tone for the conclusion essay, which he authored, which has as its starting point the effort of synthesis for a class on drawing, given in 2017 at Escola da Cidade. In the case of this closing text, the selection of graphic works with which it relates is even wider. It includes visual essays by eight contemporary artists, with whom the artist and professor has maintained an intense exchange about graphic making for decades. They are Alberto Martins, Elisa Bracher, Ester Grinspum, José Spaniol, Madalena Hashimoto, Marco Buti, Paulo Monteiro and Paulo Pasta. The diversity and complementarity between them only reinforces the idea expressed by the author, regarding the complexity, centrality and diversity of the theme, which cannot and should not be reduced to a single point of view, nor considered as something in decay, an inexorable victim of the profound changes in our visual culture.

Despite diagnosing that in the second half of the 20th century there was a decline in theoretical production on drawing (the task of gathering reflections on the issue did not prove to be easy), the 21st century appears, according to him, with a renewed vision. “When I look at the courses and discourses in art, architecture and design, I see that drawing remains firm and strong, as a praxis and as a reflection”, he concludes.

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