Flávio de Carvalho
One of the most important references of the Brazilian vanguard of the 20th century, the extensive oeuvre of artist Flávio de Carvalho (1899-1973) will be on display from 17th August to 19th of October at the Almeida & Dale Gallery in São Paulo. Curated by Kiki Mazzucchelli, the exhibition was originally shown at Sotheby’s S2 Gallery, London, in April this year and was the first solo exhibition dedicated to Flávio de Carvalho in the UK, a country in which he resided from 1914 to 1922.
The selection of works provides an enlightening panorama of the multi-disciplinary career of Flávio de Carvalho and spans five decades of his art. Around fifty of the artist´s works, including drawings, paintings, illustrations, archive materials and documentation of non-material projects, illustrate his diversity in means of expression and invaluable contribution to advancing the boundaries of artistic output.
Highlights include the set of portraits of renowned individuals who accompanied Carvalho during his artistic development, comprising paintings and drawings whose expressive lines seek to capture the psychological state of the models. Also notable are the architectural designs entered by the artist to national and international contests. Regarded as one of the pioneers of modern architecture in Brazil, Carvalho, in his designs, melded a futuristic language together with allegoric and decorative elements, showing his interest for themes involving ethnology, psychoanalysis and anthropophagy.
“Flavio de Carvalho is one of the most intriguing figures of the Brazilian vanguard of the 20th century. His conceptual designs bear witness to his extraordinary achievement of advancing the field of art beyond the established forms and territory, thereby expanding the very definition of what can be considered art”, commented Kiki.
In 1931, Flávio de Carvalho performed his first intervention in a public space; Experience no.2, in which he walked against the flow of a Corpus Christi procession through the streets of downtown São Paulo, and was perhaps the first record of such a performance in Brazil.
In 1956, aged almost 60, the artist paraded through the streets of São Paulo wearing a bouffant-sleeve blouse, pleated skirt and sandals, an outfit designed, according to him, to serve as an alternative to the standard suit and tie and free the tropical man from the discomfort caused by fashion styles imported from Europe. Accompanied by extensive press coverage which he himself laid on and evident in some of the photos exhibited in this exhibition, Flávio de Carvalho named the work New Look (Experience on.3). The functional advantages of the garment were printed in an advert produced by the artist, providing reasonable claims such as its ability to reduce sweating, along with rather more far-fetched ones such as its powers to prevent wars owing to the use of “living colors that replace desires of aggression”.
According to the curator KiKi Mazzucchelli, “the work is a typical Carvalho project in that it combines utopian experimentalism with an approach underpinned by rationalism, a method he used on numerous occasions to demystify the dominant beliefs and conventions.”.
“Romantic evolutionary” or “Ideal anthropophagist”
Coined by Le Corbusier after a meeting with Carvalho in 1929 to define his visionary and multimodal artistic practice, the first term is more used by critics, but perhaps fails to fully capture the idealistic and inventive nature of his oeuvre. The second definition, allegedly credited to Oswald de Andrade, the author of the renowned “Cannibalist Manifesto” (1928), reveals more about his practice.
According to biographer J. Toledo, in Flávio de Carvalho: the eater of emotions, Oswald de Andrade lauded him in 1930, during the IV Panamerican Congress on Architecture in Rio de Janeiro. At the time, Flávio de Carvalho presented a piece entitled A cidade do homem nu (nude man´s city), his master plan for a new metropolis in the tropics that would be devoid of God, property or marriage, an extremely outlandish proposal in an ultraconservative cultural context.
Flávio de Carvalho
Painter, sculptor, architect, set designer, designer, journalist, writer and dramatist, Flávio de Carvalho was born in Rio de Janeiro in 1899. Known for his vanguard investigations into performing arts, Carvalho used his many talents and eccentric and irreverent forms of expression to shock the bourgeoisie. He innovated in his use of new media, being notable for his innovations in the field of theater and his artistic performances, paving the way for the new trends that would emerge in Brazil from the 1960s.
Acclaimed in Western Europe, the USSR and the USA, his expressionist portraits of well-known personalities can be found in the collections of major museums in New York, Paris, Rome, Moscow, as well as São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. Despite enjoying significant media attention throughout his career, Carvalho´s oeuvre constantly clashed with the dominant conservatism, at a time when no museums dedicated to modern art existed in Brazil (the first, the MASP, was founded only in 1947). Consequently, archive and documentation materials key to reconstructing his artistic career have become dispersed among different public and private collections. The exhibition held at the Almeida & Dale seeks to help contextualize and revisit Flávio de Carvalho´s oeuvre and will have an accompanying catalogue containing unique texts outlining important themes and allowing a deeper appreciation of his pivotal role in the historiography of Brazilian art.