“I Want to be the painter of my country”, wrote Tarsila do Amaral


Tarsila do Amaral is one of the most important artists of Brazilian Modernism. One of Tarsila’s most famous paintings is “Abaporu” (1928), which is considered one of the iconic images of Brazilian Modernism. Portraying a stylized figure with elongated limbs and a large head, the painting combines elements of Cubism and Surrealism with references to Brazilian Indigenous art. The painting has become a symbol of Brazilian cultural identity and a manifesto for the Anthropophagic Movement, which advocated for the assimilation and reinterpretation of foreign cultural influences in Brazil.

She was one of the so-called Grupo dos Cinco, or Group of Five, a collective of Brazilian artists formed in the 1920s with the goal of developing Brazilian Modernism. The other four artists in the Grupo dos Cinco were Anita Malfatti, Menotti Del Picchia, Mário de Andrade, and Oswald de Andrade. Tarsila became the first to achieve the goal of the group in 1928, when she finished her landmark painting, Abaporu. Her works were exhibited in major galleries and museums around the world, and she gained international recognition for her artistic achievements.

Unfortunately, Abaporu is not in Brazil, it is located in Argentina at the Latin American Art Museum of Buenos Aires (Malba).

“I’m Deeply Brazilian” – Antropofagia

During her life, Tarsila do Amaral repeatedly emphasized to her family and friends that her mission was to portray the essence of Brazil. For her, being Brazilian meant being modern, experimenting and mixing European influences of Cubism and Surrealism with local colors, themes and forms. Through her art, she helped build the modernist movement in Brazil. Although she did not participate in the most important event of Brazilian modernists, the Week of Modern Art held in February 1922 in São Paulo, Tarsila is considered the quintessential Brazilian modern artist. Her contribution to Brazilian art reaffirms her importance and legacy in the country’s art scene.

It was intended to show the cannibalism of one culture by another culture. It was a call for Brazil to devour Europe, before Europe completely devours Brazil. Not only did this painting give birth to a new style of art—it was also considered a call to arms to all Brazilians to digest the influences of the rest of the world, to translate them, and to make them their own in order to discover what the future of Brazil could be.

Beyond Abaporu, his most famous works are; Anthropophagy, The Moon and Setting Sun. These three paintings are surprisingly modern, and the way she communicated the essence of Brazilian landscapes (real or fantastic) was original and sensual. Antropofagia shows two themes from previous pieces, A Negra, which breaks with the stereotyped and invisible representations of black people in Brazilian art, highlighting their beauty, dignity and presence. The moon and setting sun are transformed surrealist visions of sunrise and sunset in Brazil.

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