Archives for posts with tag: Cristo Redentor

Saturday night in Santa Teresa, Rio de Janeiro. The street market is in full swing, stalls everywhere in the grounds of a local institution (we never did discover what it was), high above the traffic of the street. On sale are handicrafts of all kinds – lace and embroidery, wooden, metal and ceramic ornaments, clothes of all kinds and for all ages, sweet and savoury food, and above the terraced gardens where the stalls are pitched, a rudimentary bar in a large room. And visual artists.

Paintings are regularly on sale in street markets in Brasil, testifying to the strong visual sense of the Brasilian culture. In Praca Republica in Sao Paulo on Sundays, here in Santa Teresa in Rio, in Praca Benedicto Calixto on Saturdays in Sao Paulo, fine artists, amateurs and decorators jostle to attract the eye. We stop at a pitch on the corner of a terrace, occupied by Edson Louzada.

Edson Louzada’s calling card

A genial presence with curly white hair, he appreciates our attention and talks freely about his work. Pop artists – Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Peter Blake – are clearly his artistic forebears. He’s a Paulistano retired from advertising to paint, and to enjoy the Rio lifestyle. Many of his works are homages to the Warhol full-face portrait, executed in the large-scale comic-book style which Lichtenstein popularised. Warhol’s portraits had a tongue-in-cheek element – photo-booth portraits, and large daubs of bright silk-screened colour, to accentuate the ‘famous for fifteen minutes’ style of his clients. In Brasil the celebrity portrait has reverted to iconic status, and Louzada’s work fits the bill. He needs to sell.

Something else attracts my eye. He has used another kind of icon. The statue of Cristo Redentor, “the world’s largest Art Deco statue”, is floating in a field of mixed-media images. Postcards, newspapers, tourist snaps and scraps of musical score draw your attention to and fro, skimming over a comic-book Cristo which both embraces and shrugs at Rio life – the hillside favelas and the richly-stuccoed ceilings of the ancien regime, the coastline lights twinkling against the silhouette of the Sugarloaf, the smooth young limbs of carnaval dancers and the handguns of youth crime (POW! really does mean POW!), yellow Santa Teresa trams and black-and-white pavements,  futebol  and  choro  music.

“Corcovado”, tecnica mista, Edson Louzada, 2012

Fraud, dengue fever, politics, violence and pacification are yesterday’s news aging on fading newsprint. You may take Cristo’s gesture for a fatalistic ‘whatever’ raising of hands except that, in best comic-book tradition, top right a bright yellow aeroplane flys a banner the colours of the Brasil flag proclaiming “Basta de Corrupção!!! “Enough corruption!” Again, an artistic style which has come and gone in the West is reinvigorated in Brasil. Pop art, murals and graffiti, jazz, soap opera – they breathe new life in the Southern hemisphere.

When you ask someone here “How are you?” they reply not with a British “Not too bad” but with a Brasilian “Tudo otimo!” “Everything’s grand!” Given the optimistic energy of Brasil, perhaps they will be able to address the problem of political ethics with new vigour.

P.S. Edson Louzada can be reached at Every Saturday and Sunday evening between 6 and midnight he is at the Avenida Atlântica market on the central reservation – the calçadão – on the beachfront in Copacabana in Rio. He’s at posto de salvamento 5, opposite Rua Sá Ferreira.

The Brasilian Museum of Naive Art in Rio de Janeiro is an overlooked little treasure house at the foot of the hill – Corcovado – on which the statue of Cristo Redentor stands with its arms spread wide. A pleasant villa beside the rack rail tram terminal for the journey to go up Corcovado, it sees a tiny fraction of the visitors to the statue. But it is very much worth a look.

Tiled veranda floor, Museu Internacional de Arte Naif do Brasil

To be sure, Corcovado is a visual delight. You can see why Tom Jobim’s jazz standard  spotlights it. The views of Rio from its heights are breathtaking.

Rio de Janeiro at the feet of Cristo Redentor: “Que lindo … “

Rio’s natural setting and its flora and fauna are memorable.

On the steps to the Corcovado summit

Monkeys in residence in an abandoned hotel on the way to Corcovado summit

The paintings in the museum, though not always well lit, are a fascinating international cross-section of naive art.

The British representative work

They range from works which take their cue from the high art tradition

Married (casada) Couple

to more lyrically abstract pieces,

Iracema Arditi, Azulzinho (Little Blue),1972

from the documentary

The Australian contribution

to the quirkily poetic.

Eve Vic, Suriname, Cuidade com a cobra (Beware of the Snake)

But whether they portray animals or people, at work

Market, Kenya, 1996

or at play,

House band at Estudantina – not playing musica Brasileira the night we visited

they do what all good art can do:

View of Rio, detail

they transform the way you see. Truly worth a look, if you’ve already made the journey to or from Corcovado’s more well-known art work.

World’s largest Art Deco sculpture

Life imitates art. Tourists photograph themselves in the same pose at the summit

Keeps turning up in Brasil, the goddess of the sea; here she is as a mermaid in the Museu Internacional de Arte Naif in Rio, at the foot of Corcovado, where Cristo Redentor above spreads his arms wide.

Mermaid, papier mache, Museu Internacional da Arte Naif, Rio

Inside the Cristo Redentor statue, a shrine to Nossa Senhora Aparecida, patronne of Brasil, expectant mothers, newborn children, gold, honey, beauty, rivers and … the sea.

Banner, Restaurante Sobrenatural

And here she is (twice) in the excellent Rio fish restaurant Restaurante Sobrenatural.

Shrine to Iemanja, Restaurante Sobrenatural

Altar, exhibition on Mario Andrade, Museu Afro-Brasil, Sao Paulo

Blog followers may recall that she turned up at the Sao Paulo exhibition about Mario Andrade in a previous post.

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