Mo Ki Gbogbo In – Eu saúdo a todos (I greet everyone)
09.04 – 26.05 / 2018
Tradition and contemporaneity, religion and art: the artistic output of the Bahia-born Mestre Didi (1917-2013) was permeated by dualities. One of the few Afro-Brazilian artists to enjoy the full accolade of both national and international art critics, Didi´s art involved sacred objects of the Candomblé religious cults and he is often referred to as an artist-priest. From the 7 April, the São Paulo Almeida & Dale Gallery presents the Mo Ki Gbogbo In – Eu saúdo a todos (I greet everyone), an exhibition offering the public a brief overview of the career of the Salvador-born artist. The exhibition is held in partnership with the Paulo Darzé Gallery of Salvador.
Curated by Denise Mattar and Thaís Darzé, the name of the exhibition borrows from the phrase commonly used by Mestre Didi, who always sought to embrace diversities in harmony. The exhibition brings together 48 works by the artist. The curatorial selection focuses on the 1980s, the golden years of his output, when he made his personal and inventive mark in the process of recreating the traditions of the Afro-Brazilian culture. There are also rarer pieces such as the wooden sculpture Yao Morogba, of 1950.
Baptized Deoscóredes Maximiniano dos Santos, the artist was one of the most important African-Brazilian priests in the country, responsible for translating his vision of the African world and his life, using art as the support. “Cultural expressions of African origin, especially from the Benin region, have consolidated in Salvador over the centuries of survival strategies, permeating everyday life. It is amid this scenario of ebullition of black culture, in this city that is the cradle of Candomblé and of African traditions, and in this unique religious context, that Mestre Didi emerged with his cosmic vision, which goes back to the origins to forge dialogue with contemporaneity”, stated Thais Darzé.
Conceived according to an initiating wisdom, his sculptures incorporate specific textures, materials, shapes and colors, each bearing its own meaning. The forms of his works express the vision of the nagô world, based upon a dynamic of mobilization and circulation of vital energy or axé. His creations, in turn, are derived from the emblems of the orixás of Pantheon of the Earth: Nanã and her three mythical children, Obalauaê, Oxumaré and Ossain.
“In the West, we inherit rational, cartesian and individualist thinking, where this becomes synonymous with the truth. For a long period, only Western art was considered true Art, a snobbish stance upheld to this day by some sectors of the art circuit”, emphasized curator Denise Mattar. “Black culture is plural, and not made up of a unit relative to the external world. Each individual bears the family, ancestors and divine entities within, exchanging vital energy with their peers. In this respect, Mestre Didi´s art is an expression of this and thus incorporates this cosmic vision”, she adds.
The exhibition also includes visual references, such as original ibirís and xaxarás, accounts by Mestre Didi, along with photos of artists he befriended during his life, of the likes of Pierre Verger and Mário Cravo Neto. The idea is to provide visitors with a glimpse of the Afro-Brazilian imagery. The exhibition includes a catalogue, containing not only the works on display, but also texts by the curators and an illustrated chronology of the artist.