Miguel Bakun, Caules, oil on canvas, 46 x 54 cm. PHOTO: Rafael Dabul

The person who introduced me to Miguel Bakun's work was Eliane Prolik. On one of the numerous visits I made to Curitiba in the early 1990s, the then young artist one day offered me a special welcome ceremony: after picking me up at the airport, she took me to an exhibition of the artist at one of the city's institutions ( would it have been the Museum of Contemporary Art? I can't remember for sure). Faced with my reaction, he then took me to visit a private collection in which other works by the artist stood out.

With this enchantment at the paintings of that Bakun, until then a complete stranger to me, Eliane seemed to confirm the success of her proposal: how gratifying it was to present to a then young critic from São Paulo the work of an exceptional and practically unknown artist outside Paraná. , a son of Ukrainian immigrants, born in the countryside in 1909 and who died tragically in 1963.

But only later did I find out about these facts. My meeting with Bakun, thanks to my friend's sensitivity, let's say, was cold. With no biography to emphasize romantic or romanticized traits, I was taken straight to his work, which revealed itself as a truth about the existence of painting as a celebration of the life of things because it was – in each of the paintings he painted – a celebration of the very painting.

From that first contact until today, Bakun remained for me as one of the main references on how certain procedures born during the beginning of international modern art (impressionism, post-impressionism, etc.) births in Europe; how some artists, years later, had the ability to make them again current and, in a way, fundamental for a more comprehensive understanding of each one of them, of their deviations and deepening. The encounter with Bakun's work, on that cold morning in Curitiba, helped me to understand that there must be a history of the reappearance of modern trends in isolated localities of this world of my God, reappearances that belied any sense of "idea out of place" or of time. It was like discovering that post-impressionism in the productions of the people from Paraná reappears there because, to complete itself as a way of seeing the world, that aspect needed Bakun.

(The first most important result of my encounter with the work of Miguel Bakun was the inclusion of his work in the exhibition “Bienal Brasil Século XX (São Paulo, 1994) in the segment “Modernismo”, under my responsibility and Annateresa Fabris).

Bakun became Bakun because, in a certain period, he had a strong contact with another significant Brazilian artist like José Pancetti, but Bakun became himself because he was also impregnated with the visual created by Van Gogh scrutinized through magazines and books. To a certain extent (incidentally, like Iberê Camargo in his early days), viewing the Dutch artist through reproductions allowed him to discover that painting was not just the subject he dealt with, but that he (the subject) could only exist through the construction of the form , which takes place through the assemblage of color and gesture over matter.

The work that Bakun, removing from itself the condition of mere repeater of styles created by the masters of the modern past through the full realization of painting, in the here and now, has the power to provide the spectator with the pleasure (untranslatable in words) of a painting that manifests itself in its entirety in the very act of visualizing it.


These memories and considerations emerged from the visit to the exhibition “Miguel Bakun”, at Simões de Assim Galeria de Arte, in São Paulo, on display until December 14th. An impeccable exhibition that sought to restrict the production presented to works that predate the artist's last phase, an attitude that is perfectly understandable given the limitations of space. However, by not presenting copies of the artist's last phase, the Gallery owes the São Paulo public an exhibition that contemplates, precisely, Bakun's last years. In this period, it seems to me, his animistic vision (subtly perceptible in some of the works presented) will gain a transgressive and disconcerting force that, in certain ways, manages to go beyond what Van Gogh painting itself has reached.

A self-portrait by artist Miguel Bakun. PHOTO: Reproduction

While this new exhibition does not take place, I suggest the reader to watch the documentary Bakun's self portrait (1984), by Sylvio Back, a complete demonstration of how much a documentary about the work of a particular artist can turn itself into a work of art. back, in Bakun's self portrait, far from assuming a historicist or “critical” tone, dives headfirst into the artist's complex subjectivity, recreating it as art. So, here's the tip for this weekend: Bakun and Back.

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