Wednesday’s wise woman … Tarsila do Amaral
While I was in Rio, we visited two cultural centres. We were blissfully unaware of both exhibitions, in fact the main reason for visiting the Cultural Centre of the Brazilian Bank (CCBB) was to use the free WFI. The building was a beautifully restored 1906 building that attracts over 120,000 visitors per month. So it was a pleasant surprise to find a potential ‘ wise woman,’ – Tarsila do Amaral, the exhibition, called the ‘Affective journey’ brought together works and personal objects, letters, photographs and a bracelet that belonged to Tarsila. Unfortunately there was one work missing; ‘Abaporu’ her most famous painting, as it is on exhibition at the Malba, Buenos Aires and could not be borrowed. Tarsila do Amaral was born in Sao Paulo (1886 -1973) to a rich coffee farmer and against tradition was supported by her family to continue her education and artistic pursuits in Spain and Paris. When she returned to Brazil in 1922 she joined her future husband Oswald de Andrade and other artists who formed a group working towards promoting Brazilian culture.
After a brief visit she painted the famous ‘a Negra’ depicting a black slave who may have been employed by a mother to serve the children or a wet nurse a baby.
Unfortunately there was one work missing; ‘Abaporu’ her most famous painting because it is on exhibition at the Malba, Buenos Aires and could not be borrowed.
I was drawn by Tarsila’s use of bright colours and simple shapes utilizing her highly developed European style to bring to the fore the indigenous Brazilian subject matter.
I was even more excited when I visited the Museu do Arte Contemporanea in Niteroi a few days later to learn that the exhibition ‘Women in the Joao Sattamini and MAC de Niteroi Collections’ was showing works by Tarsila, Anita Malfatti, Lygia Clark and others who played a part in developing modern and contemporary art in Brazil …