Born in Fortaleza on May 26, 1922, Antonio Bandeira tread an uncommon artistic path in the Brazilian art scene. An independent artist amidst the local influence of his time – even though he was extremely active in his social context – he did not seek the stylistic and geographic regionalisms that sometimes fueled the artists of his generation. He remained at the fringe of schools and styles, never lending his name to the declarations of aesthetic faith so much in fashion at that moment.
Demanding and methodical, defined by his peers as a serious, laconic artist with a “monastic obstinacy,” he worked diligently throughout his life, leaving a production that is surprising not only for its quality and sensibility, but also for the sheer quantity of artworks. He moreover dedicated special attention to his own persona, reinforcing myths and narratives about his biography and cultivating his image, thus creating a personal image that often sparked interest in his work.
Apparently abstract splatters, blotches, weaves, colors and lines effectively imprint, in the words of the artist, “landscapes, seascapes, trees, seaports, cities, in short, travel notes. I begin with realism and then prune away the branches until arriving at the point that my sensibility demands. […] Nature always was, and will be, my storehouse.” This happy commitment with life drove him to approach and assimilate the international language of abstract art. As summarized by Ferreira Gullar, Bandeira “made use of the possibilities of the new language to express his loving relationship with the reality he was living and the reality that he had lived.”
The present show features a selection of about 70 artworks – canvases, gouaches and watercolors – from different phases of his artistic production, spanning from his first figurative paintings to the large canvases of dense weaves and drippings in his last years, and has its origin in the show Antonio Bandeira: um abstracionista amigo da vida, held at Espaço Cultural Unifor, Fortaleza, from August through December, 2017.
Regina Teixeira de Barros and Giancarlo Hannud