Opening: April 24, 8 pm
Visitation: April 25 until May 26
At the outset of the exhibition-cum-essay curated by Luise Malmaceda and Paulo Miyada to be held at Instituto Tomie Ohtake is the oeuvre of Miguel Bakun (1909-1963), an artist from Paraná, a state in southern Brazil. As the curators have noted, the event is meant to reflect on representation of landscapes in Brazil's subtropical region that have "so often been sidelined by the eminently warm-climate, coastal beach imaginary of a country whose picture-postcard sites are mostly found north of the Tropic of Capricorn."
According to Malmaceda and Miyada, Learning from Miguel Bakun: Subtropical offers an immersion in the "aesthetics of coldness." This notion taken from the eponymous book by Rio Grande do Sul musician Vitor Ramil was mediated by Bakun's paintings and their shared appreciation of everyday landscapes of 1940’s Curitiba, a city on the verge of modernizing but still bearing many signs of its rural surroundings. The curators also noted that, with nimble brushstrokes on canvas with a restricted palette of yellow, blue and green interspersed with pristine white, Bakun rendered an imaginary of Brazil that counters the representations of exotic and vibrant natural settings portrayed by the early foreign visitors or even by the modernist canon, and then exported as this country's ideal image.
"In paintings revealing vigorous facture, he extrapolated from apprehension of real-life to sketch an interior landscape informed by subjectivity, triggering reflections on time, attention, simplicity, inner life, intuition and silence – protagonists of this exhibition that interweaves temporalities and poetics of artists from different generations," the curators added.
Sponsored by Banco Barigüi, Grupo Barigüi, Tradener and Moageira Irati, the exhibition has been designed to feature, in unprecedented format in São Paulo, a large cutout from Bakun's production contextualized in the history of Brazilian art. The exhibition comprises three large groups engaged in dialogue with the artist: one specifically covering landscapes from southern Brazil, in particular the state of Paraná, consisting of pieces by Alfredo Andersen (1869 – 1935), Bruno Lechowski (1887– 1941), Caio Reisewitz (1967 –) and Marcelo Moscheta (1976 –); another situating Bakun within Brazilian modernism together with Alberto da Veiga Guignard (1896 – 1962), Alfredo Volpi (1896 – 1988), Iberê Camargo (1914 – 1994) and José Pancetti (1902 – 1998); and a third group made up of contemporary artists who, like Bakun, found in landscape an inexhaustible source of investigation, as for example Marina Camargo (1980 –), Lucas Arruda (1983 –) and Fernando Lindote (1960 –).
Miguel Bakun (Marechal Mallet, PR 1909 – Curitiba, PR, 1963) is considered one of the leading modern artists from the state of Paraná. A self-taught painter, he first took up visual arts under the influence of the José Pancetti when both were sailors in Rio de Janeiro, in the late 1920s. By 1930 he had left the Navy and returned to Curitiba, where he worked several jobs to earn a living while keenly initiating his painting career. In the early 1940s, he set up a studio in a building the municipality assigned for local artists to share and became more actively involved in the local artistic milieu, which never fully welcomed him. In this most fruitful period, Bakun produced portraits, still lifes, seascapes and, particularly, landscapes. Thanks to his unconstrained approach to painting landscapes, he could cope with complex working conditions, which included technical barriers to precarious materials as well as limited color palettes and the use of tow linen for canvas. Bold combinations of yellows, blues and greens applied with vigorous brushstrokes into dense impasto layers made the artist a pioneer of modern art in Paraná, although recognition only came posthumously. In 1963, depressed over his bleak economic prospect and the sparse penetration of his output in the local art system, Bakun committed suicide at the age of 54.