Exhibition "Elza and Gerson: Each individual is a universe"

, promising28Mar(Mar 28)10:00Sat11May(May 11)19:00Exhibition "Elza and Gerson: Each individual is a universe"The duo monographic exhibition by the Pernambuco artist couple Elza OS and Gerson de Souza presents a panoramic view of their production.Galatea Gallery, Rua Oscar Freire, 379 – Jardins


The exhibition is linked to one of the pillars of the gallery's program, which focuses on the repositioning, exhibition and critical discussion of artists who worked outside traditional art circuits and who, often self-taught, were marginalized by modernism, by the criticism of art, the curatorial programs of museums and the market.

There is a peculiar movement of attraction and repulsion in the history of Brazilian modern art in relation to the productions of so-called “popular art”, a term imbued with aesthetic, cultural and social prejudices, but not as frivolous as the derogatory and reductionist “naive”, “primitive ”, “naive” and “brut”. If, on the one hand, several modern artists were drinking from the popular fountain, appropriating themes and aesthetics, on the other they created a clear distinction between the status of the modern artist and the popular artist. This can also be seen in the way critics and curators treated and presented this type of production, often with a stigmatizing approach, taking away the intellectual and purposeful agency of these artists.

Architect, designer, editor and curator Lina Bo Bardi was an important figure in the appreciation and repositioning of artists and productions of so-called popular art. She organized and curated exhibitions (at MASP, Solar do Unhão and Sesc Pompeia) [1] around the theme and developed a rich critical production on the subject. In her book Tempos de grossura, Lina Bo Bardi is categorical in her accusation against cultural elitism that systematically marginalized the popular:

A reexamination of the country's recent history is necessary. The assessment of “popular” Brazilian civilization is necessary, even if poor in light of high culture. This balance is not the balance of folklore, always paternalistically supported by high culture, it is the balance “seen from the other side”, the participatory balance. It's Aleijadinho and Brazilian culture before the French Mission. He is the northeaster of leather and empty cans, he is the inhabitant of the villages, he is the black and the Indian, a mass that invents, that brings an indigestible, dry, hard-to-digest contribution.[2]

With these propositions by Lina Bo Bardi on the horizon, the production of Elza and Gerson, a couple from the Northeast who migrated to Rio de Janeiro in search of better working conditions, is not presented here in this exhibition in the light of “popular art”, but rather positioning them as artists empowered by their poetics and practices, with a very genuine work that presents the world views of each of them.

Elza & Gerson: each individual is a universe puts into dialogue the artistic couple's painting production 54 years after the last exhibition they held together, at Galeria Oca, in Rio de Janeiro, in 1970. The title of the exhibition borrows a phrase that Gerson wrote on the back of his paintings and which provides, here, the thread of the curatorial approach, focused on the multiple and diverse ways of existing narrated in the two's paintings, which portray Rio's bohemia and the city's daily life; carnival scenes and religious figures; in addition to compositions with a dreamlike and surreal tone that are divided into nuclei: surrealisms; carnival scenes and popular demonstrations; brothel and bohemia; religious figures; and portraits.

Escaping the stereotype that places so-called popular art as an artistic production devoid of intellectual propositions and without political and critical awareness, Gerson and Elza's paintings show precisely the opposite. Gerson approached scenes from Rio's bohemia with great freedom, bringing themes of sexuality, such as prostitution, in a non-reductionist way, giving pictorial and emotional complexity to his characters, as we can see in the exceptional paintings Travesti, from 1967, and A novata, from 1965. .

Elza presents us with a view from a woman's perspective, in which themes such as marriage and the domestic environment are elaborated in paintings that often have a dreamlike and surreal tone. His stylized brides refer to a youthful frustration of not having properly married dressed as a bride with Gerson, as they did so in a hurry in the context of moving to Rio de Janeiro, which reveals aspects of the social and cultural conventions that have taken hold, often violently, in the female imagination.

Thomas Toledo

[1] About this history of exhibitions see: TOLEDO, Tomás. “The popular museums of Lina Bo Bardi”. In: PEDROSA, Adriano; GONZALEZ, Julieta; ESPARZA, José and TOLEDO, Tomás (orgs.). Lina Bo Bardi: Habitat. São Paulo: MASP, 2019.
[2] BARDi, Lina Bo. “Civilization of the Northeast”. In: SUZUKI, Marcelo (org.). Times of thickness: design at an impasse. São Paulo: Instituto Lina Bo and Pietro Maria Bardi, 1994, p. 12.

Exhibition | Elza and Gerson: Each individual is a universe
From March 28th to May 11th
Monday to Thursday, 10am to 19pm
Friday, from 10am to 18pm
Saturday from 11 am to 15 pm


March 28, 2024 10:00 - May 11, 2024 19:00(GMT-03:00)


Galatea Gallery

Rua Oscar Freire, 379 – Jardins

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