Cícero Dias, 'Coqueiral', 30's


the huge panel I saw the world... It started in Recife it's not for beginners. In this work, Cícero Dias, one of the seminal names of Brazilian art, brings a flow of energy in which he mixes Eros and Thanatos, Freud and Proust, Casa Grande and Senzala, breeze and fire from the cane fields, as a heterogeneous multiplicity of an almost insurmountable imaginary. It draws attention at the 1931 Salon, in Rio de Janeiro, where it is considered profuse, confusing, dramatic, full of erotic daydreams. Despite the attacks, the work consolidated its trajectory. Cícero Dias is considered inexplicable. Not for Mário de Andrade, who, upon discovering him, soon defined him: “Cícero has a surprising personality. A formidable expression and its main psychological values ​​are sexuality, sarcasm and mysticism.” Whether you agree with Mário de Andrade or not, this trilogy permeates all of his work.

A cross-section of the Cicero Dias retrospective, at the Simões de Assis Galeria de Arte, in São Paulo, leads us to recognize his creative formulation in paintings, watercolors and lithographs, through its various phases. Collecting is a convention that translates artistic making, feeling and yearning. Waldir Simões de Assis, in addition to being a gallery owner, is a collector and is the curator of the show. A personal friend of Cícero Dias for several decades, he lived with him daily in Paris, when they both lived in the French capital. The exhibition, apparently limited to 40 works, touches on several phases of Cícero Dias, covering watercolors and paintings from 1920 to 1960 and lithographs from the series Pernambuco Suite. Waldir Simões, in the text of the catalogue, recalls that Cícero Dias rarely devoted himself to lithographs. The first of these was in 1933 when he illustrated the book Casa Grande e Senzala, by Gilberto Freyre. In Lisbon, in 1944, he produced images for the book Ilha dos Amores, by Os Lusíadas, by Luís de Camões and, in 1983, in Paris, he produced the Suite Pernambucana, acquired by Waldir Simões.

Displayed side by side, this set of works that are different from each other makes works from different movements coexist. O Sonho Tropical, watercolor on paper, from 1929, can be an ode to free life, a non-sense poetic trail, an exaltation of non-territory. In contrast, Coqueiral, 1930, oil on canvas, portrays a real everyday life, lived in a village, with residents dispersed in pairs or trios in specific positions. The sexuality that overflows from the imagination of Cícero Dias seems to focus on the Encontro no Canavial, from 1930. The scene, unusual, portrays a naked woman lying on a bed, in the middle of a “street” of a cane field, with a cavaqueiro, supposed to be foreman, the almighty one of the sugar cane farm. Cicero appropriates the real, and dreams of a limit situation between force and sexuality.


Em Musicality, from 1940, oil on canvas reveals his arrival at abstractionism through forms inspired by Recife, as well as the use of colors impregnated by the local architecture. Kandinsky's influence can be seen in the midst of tropical light, coconut trees, banana trees, like blurred reminiscences. Alegria from 1970, brings back the shades of Pernambuco, now in a more intense way, as well as the more rigid characters. Entropy XII, 1960, oil on canvas is like red water that the artist lets run down the canvas. French critic Pierre Restany says that after a great abstract and lyrical period of Entropias blackened, which covers the period of the 50s and beyond, the artist in the mid-60s has an expansion of the tropicalist notion, in a return to the origins of sensitivity.

Cícero Dias was born in 1907, in Engenho de Jundya, 53 kilometers from Recife, lives in Rio de Janeiro where he studies painting. In 1927 he had his first exhibition and the following year he left the Escola de Belas Artes. In 1937, he created the scenery for the ballet by Serge Lifar and Villa Lobos, exhibited at the modern group show in New York, traveled to Paris, where he settled.

Modernism manifests itself in São Paulo, in the Semana de 22, and spreads throughout Rio de Janeiro, through other ways and climates. In the federal capital, at the time, some artists born in other Brazilian states began to attract attention, among them Ismael Neri and Cícero Dias. Writer Mario de Andrade is immediately enchanted by the immense panel signed by Cícero Dias, Eu vi o mundo…, considered very erotic for the time. The two artists, writes Mário, are completely crazy. “Cícero Dias, more within the dream, while Ismael lives within a reality, so to speak translates”. The critic Roberto Pontual defined Tarsila as the telluric, Ismael the poet-philosopher, Cícero the lyricist, “all three immersing their strongest characteristic in the same sea of ​​symbolic waves impregnated with sexuality”.

In the midst of the effervescence of that moment, Cícero Dias met Di Cavalcanti, linked to the modernist movement, with whom he became a friend. Di encourages him to move to Paris, where he already lived. Upon arriving in the French capital, Cícero Dias participated in the Revue D'Anthropologie, a very important publication at the time, for which several intellectuals wrote. He soon befriends the poet Paul Élouard, joins the Espace Group and is then invited to exhibit at the famous Denise René gallery. At that time he allowed himself to be seduced by surrealism.

Working in the domain of pure intuition Cícero Dias creates a personal anthropology full of color, light and free to fantasy. He conquers his space in the French capital and, more than that, the friendship of important artists like Picasso and frequents their house and vice versa. His work evolves into a kind of combination of intuition, enigma and some narrative whether surreal or true.

Throughout his life he tried to contextualize his work with his time and, for this very reason, he may have always surprised critics with enigmatic solutions. Roberto Pontual talks about the contradictory options that surrounded Cícero Dias and the internal logic of his work, while the Frenchman Philippe Dagen simply classifies him as “inexplicable”.

Cicero Dias
Location: Simões de Assis Gallery. Rua Sarandi 113 – A, Jardins – SP.

Visiting period: until 04/08
Opening hours: Monday to Friday, from 10 am to 19 pm. Saturday from 10 am to 15 pm. Closed on Sundays and holidays.
Phone Number: (11) 3062-8980

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