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.
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.
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
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?
It’s a small
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