Rubem Valentim, Composição 12, 1962.
This exhibition of the work of Rubem Valentim (Salvador, 1922 – São Paulo, 1991) brings together nearly 60 works with the aim of reexamining the production of the important 20th century Brazilian artist, who was responsible for putting forth potent articulations crossing elements of the occidental tradition and the African roots of Brazilian culture. A painter, sculptor, and printmaker, Rubem Valentim was raised in close contact with syncretic AfroBrazilian religiosity: his family was Catholic, but the artist also frequented candomblé terreiros. As an adult, Valentim would go on to expound his captivation with Afro-Brazilian
rituals as much as the imaginary of the Catholic church, especially its baroque saints. In Valentim’s work there is a highly subtle and precise interpenetration between the structure of a constructive base and the iconography and colorful inheritance of the magic, religious Afro-Brazilian universe. In this sense, we can say that Valentim is one artist who in a more complete and ambitious way carried out the anthropophagic desire of Brazilian culture: the idea, put forth by the poet Oswald de Andre at the end of the 1920s, which proposed a “swallowing” of the European cultural legacy, a “digestion” of it, and then return of it to the
world in the form of a quintessentially Brazilian art.
(Photo courtesy of MASP, São Paulo, Brazil.)