"Peter's Vulture", 1963.

In recent years, there have been many exhibitions that have presented the work of Gilvan Samico (1928-2013). Especially after his death, exhibitions inside and outside the country, individual or collective – such as the 32nd Bienal de São Paulo – helped to spread even more the work of the famous printmaker from Pernambuco. “I think before he was treated mainly as a regional artist and, over the years, he gained the status of a larger, national artist”, says curator Ivo Mesquita.

The increase in the number of exhibitions on Samico does not diminish, however, the relevance of the exhibition presented as of this May 28 at Galeria Estação, in São Paulo, curated by Mesquita and the presence of 31 prints by the artist (26 already acquired by Marcos Amaro Foundation for the collection of FAMA). Not only because of the expressive amount of works gathered, but because it covers different phases of the production of the Pernambuco artist, in a panorama that makes the exhibition, according to the curator, “almost a retrospective”.

“Cyclists”, from 1959.

There are works from the three main phases into which Samico's production is usually divided. First, black and white prints from the years 1958 and 1959, during which the artist studied with Lívio Abramo, in São Paulo, and Oswaldo Goeldi, in Rio. “At this stage it is interesting to see that, although he has two figurative masters and makes a more figurative print, he already reveals an abstract thought in the creation of his work. In the structuring of the composition, for example, there is always a very particular game of shapes and a very elaborate texture in the exploitation of wood”, says Mesquita.

In the second phase, during the 1960s, Samico approached the universe of cordel and popular Northeastern traditions. White starts to predominate over black, and other colors appear soberly – “possibly a learning experience he had with Goeldi” –, while the gestures in the wood carving become deeper and more economical. “There is a process of simplification in the construction of figures, animals, landscapes”, explains Mesquita. “The works gain a more graphic quality, more rude, let's say, closer to a procedure that comes from the woodcut and has to do with the wooden matrix of cordel literature”, she explains.

“Peter’s Vulture”, 1963.

It is also the period in which Samico constitutes his wide repertoire of references, which travels not only through the vernacular and cordel universe, but also through biblical, mythological and, according to Mesquita, even tarot themes. Fantastic images or images of the earthly world, dragons, serpents and other animals, stars, moons, humans, angels or hybrid beings begin to create narratives and populate the artist's prints – until the end of his life.

It is from the end of the 1960s and especially in the following decade, when he creates a close dialogue with the Armorial Movement led by Ariano Suassuna – which preaches the valorization of Northeastern culture – that Samico develops what Mesquita calls “the Samico style”. . In other words, the personal style for which he became best known and which marked his work from then on, in which geometric thinking results in articulated, hierarchical and often symmetrical compositions, with emblematic and symbolic images of strong optical appeal.

“People identify those figures, animals, plants, but at the same time there is something that I think catches the eye, which is the symmetry thing. The repetition, the combination of elements are very intriguing. And the predominance of white and black has a very strong appeal.”

“The Abduction of the “Sun”, 1984.

From 1977 until his death, Samico set a clear pattern of work, adopting a standard matrix size and producing only one print a year. In what Mesquita calls the “Calvinist spirit”, the artist spent months studying and creating, in a disciplined way, every detail of the works, until reaching the final design. The perfection and exactitude of each stroke, the cleanliness of each cut, according to the curator, was the result of this long process, an arduous journey.

“Each element, each figure, an animal, a turtle, a star, a dragon… Everything is the object of dozens of drawings and studies”. If Samico was a very discreet and reserved figure, who preferred to stay at his home in Olinda than to go around and travel to publicize his work, perhaps this was not for nothing: “He had to make lots and lots of drawings to solve each turtle” , jokes Mosque.


Estação Gallery – Rua Ferreira de Araújo, 625 – Pinheiros

From May 28 to July 13, 2019

Free admission

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