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Knott: Artists that are known in Europe, such as Beatriz Milhazes, seem much more Baroque when compared to the Neo-Expressionists. Nature and a joy in living play a much greater role in their works.

Cintrao: Beatriz is from Rio, where artists work with a lot of color. The paintings from Sao Paulo are darker and more open to Conceptualism or Constructive aspects, as can be seen in the works of Nuno Ramos, for instance. In my opinion, Brazilian art today is marked by two currents: on the one hand the Baroque, and on the other “Concrete Art,” which emerged from Constructivism – even if it seems difficult to connect these two antagonistic tendencies. Milhaze’s works are an example of this: one could speak of a Constructivist concept – and with this I mean the way in which she organizes colors and forms on the surface – and at the same time she paints flowers with Baroque curves and organic forms. With Nuno Ramez, as well, there is this combination of Baroque and Constructivism.

Exhibition Opening

Knott: Do you think that the return to figurative painting was part of a political development? The paintings of the Neue Wilden were full of allusions to politics and history, such as Immendorff’s Cafe Deutschland. Did a similar political dimension exist in Brazilian art?

Cintrao: Geracao 80 wasn’t interested in political questions; the only thing they were looking for was freedom: freedom of opinion, of love, of art, and of music. This is why so many of these artists disappeared from the public eye later on. They were interested in being active, but not so much in the result.

Knott: In Germany, a return to painting can recently be observed following a decade in which the art scene was ruled by video art, installation, and photography. Is there a similar tendency in Brazil? And if so: is that the reason why the Neo-Expressionists and the Neue Wilden are being shown again today?

Cintrao: No, there are painters in Brazil, but the scene is still dominated by video, performance, and installation. Like in the nineteen-seventies, there are artists’ groups working collaboratively again today, as well. I think this has to do with the end of the age of curator dictatorship. But that’s just an idea.

Georg Baselitz: Eagle, 1977, Deutsche Bank Collection

Knott: I’ve heard that you’re currently showing contemporary Brazilian art in the Museo de Arte Moderna. Is there a connection to The Return of the Giants?

Cintrao: It’s a small retrospective on Candido Portinari, who was the most important artist in Brazil in the 1940s and 1950s. He’s one of the Brazilian “giants,” as can be seen in the thirty works on display. His drawings and paintings for the most part portray Brazilian women and children – it’s an allegory of Brazil and an homage to the artist, who would have turned one hundred in 2003.

The interview was conducted by Marie Luise Knott. She writes about art as a freelance journalist for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and is in charge of the German edition of Le Monde Diplomatique.

Translation: Andrea Scrima

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