*By Theo Monteiro
The afternoon of March 5, 2016 was marked by the opening of the new headquarters of Casa Triângulo, an art gallery located in the Jardins district. Amid the white color of the building's walls, as well as the skin color of most people, the presence of the artist Moisés Patrício stood out: black, wearing a white coat and adorned with a beaded necklace that refers to the Afro-Brazilian culture. Brazilian. He would be joined by a few more blacks during the event, whose skin color helped to break the monochromatism that had prevailed in the environment until then. For the unsuspecting, those black characters in the room could just be there by chance. could.
In fact, those presences were not the result of coincidence. A few days earlier, an event entitled black presence, which called for artists and black people in general to attend the opening at the same gallery. “This is not an environment considered ours. Black people find it very difficult to enter the art scene” explains Patrício, one of the organizers of the act, created in partnership with Peter de Brito, another black artist.
“The idea is to be a peaceful and joyful intervention, which encourages Afro-descendants to occupy specific spaces that are historically denied to them, in this case, openings of exhibitions and shows, so that they come to honor the openings”, says Patrício. “Brazil is a diverse country: different cultures, colors, religions and ways of thinking coexist in this territory. However, and surprisingly, this diversity is practically non-existent in many mediums, and art is one of them. For me, as a black artist, it was very difficult to be present. Brazil has a vast amount of artistic production, but the only one that enters the commercial environment and is publicized is white production”, he laments.
According to Patrício, if you ask any gallery owner about the absence of black artists in these spaces, the justification will be their practically non-existence. The explanation does not correspond to reality. The fact that it was not absorbed by the commercial circuits does not make the art of Afro-descendants less important for Brazilian culture. “It carries a different poetics, distinct from the current production in the art market, which is very marked by an individualistic theme. Afro-descendant production carries its own issues, because artists have a different kind of experience and are subjected to a series of violence”, explains Patrício. “Black poetics in Brazil is very close to the African matrix, which is collectivist, which thinks of fruition in a broader sense, and not just for a select audience of people.”
Although less prominent, black production in Brazil exists and dates back to the colonial period: from Aleijadinho (173?-1814) from Minas Gerais to contemporary artists such as Sidney Amaral, Emanuel Araújo and Lidia Lisboa. “It is not because we are the target of great violence in all social spheres that they belong to us less. On the contrary, these spaces are also ours and interventions such as the black presence are fundamental for us to occupy them”, explains Patrício.
Another issue raised by the artist is that this constant exclusion and denial of any black production ends up having harmful consequences for individuals: “The depression that affects many Afro-descendants ends up having as its origin precisely this identity that is denied to us. It is an identity crisis that is imposed on us, and our exclusion from the arts circuit is yet another facet of that”. However, for him, even though racial prejudice persists, there have been many advances in the last decade. “Racism in Brazil was practically not discussed ten years ago. This was a topic that bothered him and that's why his debate was dormant. Now blacks have more access to basic items, information and culture and are in the university. We are finally getting our foot in the door, and this discussion cannot be different in art. Art disturbs, provokes, raises questions. Thinking about racism in this environment is fundamental”, he concludes.