Category Archives: Visual Arts

Unbelievable house/museum in São Paulo

Check  this incredible slide show of ex-banker Edemar Cid Ferreira’s house. This museum-like palace hosts a mural painted by Sol LeWitt and works by Frank Stella, Nikki de Saint Phalle, Di Cavalcanti, Franz Krajcberg, Amilcar de Castro, Tomie Ohtake, Oscar Niemeyer, Vik Muniz and Bruno Giorgi. And I could keep dropping names for ever. Ferreira was expelled last week from this mansion because he did not pay the (relatively low) 20,000 reais (around 11,800 dolars) monthly rent since 2004. In the past, before his Banco Santos broke, in the midst of a big financial scandal, he was a huge patron of Brazilian arts. When things blew up, he sent part of his collection abroad, but it was recovered by the FBI.

Brazilian animated GIFs

As we say in Portuguese, today I decided to “enfiar o pé na jaca” – literally, put your foot inside a gluey jackfruit. In other words, I put myself in a shameful situation and decide to publish an overly kitsch post.

This is a selection of Brazilian themed animated gifs – those ridiculous dancing images that you can use in your websites, Facebook pages and school projects. You can obtain all the codes at the original sources (Imagemgif and Recados e Glitter). Go, use them – just liberate the teen girl that lives inside of you (and, guys, I promise that my next post will be something really serious – or at least sad…)

Continue reading Brazilian animated GIFs

Margaret Mee, queen of the rain forest

Neoregelia concentrica
Neoregelia concentrica

No artist portrayed the beauty of the Brazilian rain forest flowers better than Margaret Mee. This British Botanical painter, one of the finest of the last century, helped publicizing abroad the importance of the country’s biodiversity.

She moved to Brazil in the mid-50s (when she was already 47), where she remained till the end of her life, in 1988. In her 15 expeditions to the Amazon region, plus several to the cerrado (the country’s savanna) and the Atlantic rain forest, Mee produced a detailed images of the country’s flora, namely orchids, bromeliads and cacti.

Lack of comfort, tropical diseases or safety never deterred her – she would walk into rivers, climb trees full of ants and stand under huge tropical storms if that was needed to get the best angle. And to guarantee her safety – she was menaced by gold prospectors once -, she always carried a gun. Frequently, she would navigate the Amazon tributaries in a canoe and enter the jungle by herself. Many of her watercolors reproduce plants that were not yet described by Science and were later named after her.

Aechmea aquilegia



10 brains you will love

Don’t miss this opportunity: great Brazilian artists, journalists, scientists, businessmen and philosophers speak their minds in the new TED conference series produced in São Paulo.

Some highlights (for the versions with English subtitles, click on their names and make sure the CC button, that turns on the captions, is on):

  1. Regina Casé is the comedian who founded  Asdrúbal Trouxe o Trombone troupe in the seventies, then gave life to memorable characters of the comedy show TV Pirata, in the eighties. In 1989, she met researcher Hermano Vianna and this led to a turning point in her career. Together, they created a group of studies and professional partnerships that caused her to shift the focus of her work from art to anthropology. This partnership gave way to Brazil Legal, Muvuca, and Central da Periferia, among other projects that bring to the little screen the realities of the country.
  2. Fabio Barbosa, president of the Santander Group Brazil and my former boss, one of the leaders of the debate about corporate responsibility and sustainability in the country. A brilliant man with a very advanced vision.  Since 2000, he developed a strategy at Banco Real (that now belongs to Santander) that includes offering lines of credit for companies that wish to comply with environmental standards and cutting companies that harm the environment off its client list (I was part of the team in charge of these cuts). The plan became the object of a study at Harvard University. Continue reading 10 brains you will love

Vik Muniz in Wasteland

You may have heard of Vik Muniz, the highly successful New York-based Brazilian artist that experiments with all sorts of materials, from diamonds to chocolate, creating images both fun and inspiring. Now you can watch a sample of Waste Land, the documentary about Muniz that won the Public Award in the last edition of the Sundance independent film festival, in January. It shows his work with garbage pickers in Jardim Gramacho, the largest landfill of Rio de Janeiro. It focuses on the transformative power of art and gives a pretty close look on the life of those who live from the trash and surrounded by trash.

Singer Seu Jorge, made with circles cut from magazines

Toy soldier, made of idem

And here, in the really cool TED conference series, Vik discusses what is creativity and shows some of his works.

You can also find at Artsy a fine collection of his work.

Brazilian Baroque

Igreja de São Francisco, Mariana, in Minas Gerais state

When you think of Baroque, you probably remember the curvy, exaggerated, passionate form of art that  blossomed in Europe since the 17th century.  You may think of Caravaggio and Bernini in Italy, or the rococo in France, or Bach and Handel in Germany. Less known but equally important was the Brazilian Baroque, that dominated the art scene in the country between the end of the 17th and the 19th centuries.

Although both literature and music incorporated baroque elements, it is in architecture that Baroque really excelled.

Most baroque churches have sober exteriors that contrast with very ornate interior decoration, including chubby angels, birds, vines and a profusion of color.  Cities that were rich at the time, thanks to diamonds, gold or sugar trade, such as Salvador, in Bahia, or Ouro Preto, in Minas Gerais, could afford to use gold leaves and noble materials and to hire the best artists of the time. Among them, Antônio Francisco Lisboa, known as Aleijadinho (The Crippled, a nickname given in less politically correct times), and Manoel da Costa Athaide (or Mestre Athaide).

Aleijadinho, the son of a Portuguese with a slave, lived in the state of Minas Gerais from 1730 until 1814. His amazing work as an architect, decorator and sculptor has a unique, dramatic style. The details and the realism of his statues, sculpted in wood or soap stone, are particularly impressive when you think of how the Aleijadinho worked: he had to attach his tools to his hands, after he lost his fingers to leprosy. Mestre Athaide was a very influential painter, known for the use of perspective and for the African traits of his angels and saints. Continue reading Brazilian Baroque

Brazilian graffitti

Os Gêmeos work at the Tate Modern museum, London
Tate Modern illustrated by Os Gêmeos/photo krandlum, Flickr

Brazil has a long love affair with graffiti, from the omnipresent pichações – that frequently depict the name of the gang that claims that territory – to acclaimed art.

It all began in the 70’s, as a reaction to the censorship imposed by the military dictatorship. Even today, it frequently makes political statements. Check below this pichação in São Paulo. It crosses the round logo of the powerful Rede Globo, the main media complex in the country. And shouts: “I hate the lack of culture on TV! “.

Alex Vallauri, the Ethiopian-born artist who died in 1987, was the Brazilian’s equivalent of Keith Haring, who gave graffiti Art status in the US. Not many of Vallauri’s graffiti survived, but his universe – inhabited by kitsch images, sexy women and high-heeled boots – inspired the new generations of street artists.

These days, the raising stars in the Brazilian graffiti  scene are Os Gêmeos (Otávio e Gustavo Pandolfo), two identical twins from São Paulo. They helped redefine the national style and are spreading their brand around the world. “The New York Times” describes their work as “rococo, fantastic and epic”. Last year they created a mural in the front of the Tate Modern museum, in London, together with another Brazilian grafiteiro, Nunca, and a few artists from other countries. Check this interview for some insights on their creation process.

If you want to learn more about Brazilian graffiti, visit this really cool selection on Flick. You can also find some interesting content in this book: Graffiti Brasil (Street Graphics / Street Art).

Graffiti against Globo, São Paulo

The Roasted Chicken Queen graffiti, by Alex Vallauri
The Roasted Chicken Queen/Alex Vallauri