THE COLOR OF SILENCE
18.08 – 24.11 / 2018
This Exhibition brings together around 70 works by the Rio artist covering different stages of his career, from 1930 to the 1980s.
Reflective, disciplined and silent yet instilled with dense emotions. This aptly describes the work of Milton Dacosta (1915 - 1988), a painter from Rio who melded tradition with a potent fertile creative process. From 18 August, the public can see firsthand the different phases of the artist in the exhibition A cor do silêncio (the color of silence) held by the Almeida & Dale Gallery, São Paulo.
Curated by Denise Mattar, the exhibition showcases around 70 works produced by the modern artist and painter from the 1930s through to the end of his life in the 1980s. During this trajectory Dacosta did not limit himself to just one school. By contrast, he pursued several styles drawing on many influences. “Without paying heed to praise or criticisms, the artist always followed the path which interested him, from impressionist figures to metaphysics, from cubism to the symmetry of light and from concrete forms to the sensuality of the curve”, affirmed the curator.
In life, the artist gained acclaim by both the public and critics. His work was recognized by the most prominent names in the art scene, including Sérgio Milliet, Mário Pedrosa, Samson Flexor and Waldemar Cordeiro. In 1955, the jury of the III Biennial of São Paulo awarded him the Best National Painter prize.
Then aged 40, he gained full recognition for his work amidst the fierce clash between figurative and abstract art at the time. Dacosta was among the few artists universally embraced in this context. In the view of Denise Mattar, the acceptance of his work was the result of a personal trajectory of an exceptional painter who knew how to establish dialogues with the works of artists that interested him and yet still remain original.
Arranged chronologically, the A cor do silêncio exhibition commences with the earliest works of the young painter. Paisagem Urbana (Urban Landscape) (1937) and the iconic Autorretrato (Self-portrait) (1938) date back to this period. With strong influence from the Parisian movement and from naturalism with impressionist traits, his canvases already prefigured one of the core features of his work: although the expressionist realism of national artists such as Di Cavalcanti and Portinari predominated, he remained true to his predilections.
In the 1940s, Dacosta resumed his structural studies of image, enjoying a phase of discoveries. In this period, his interest turned to the elongated figures and metaphysics of De Chirico, whose influence is clear in works such as Ciclistas (1941) (Cyclists) and Carrossel (Carousel)(1945). Unlike the Italian artist, however, the Brazilian´s pictures are in sunny climes and associated with play (as opposed to anguish), a theme that persisted throughout his life.
After forays travelling and studying in the United States and Europe, the painter returned to Brazil in the late 1940s and immediately continued the lanky figures he had hitherto done. He then began a geometric phase, marked by oppositions. “The light is contrasted with the dark, front is also sideways on, light is defined by shadow. The artist distorts heads, decoupaged faces and bodies in triangles and circles and from these produced contrasts defined by orthogonal or curvilinear structural lines, in an almost musical construction.
In 1952, now married with another painter, Maria Leontina, the artist embarked upon geometric-figurative (de)compositions. This provided the basis of the series for which he won the 1955 Biennial award. In Sobre a Horizontal (On the Horizon) (1954), he creates a still-life produced using orthogonal lines, decomposed into geometric figures painted in subtle blues, ochers and bright white tempera, against an intense black background.
Over time, Dacosta´s figurative allusions gave way to unique, increasingly concise, lyric constructivism. Works such as Em Branco (In White) (1956), Em Roxo (In Purple) (1957) and Em Verde (In Green) (1958) are from this time and illustrate the painter´s accurate composition and refined chromatism. Critics maintain that this was the pinnacle of his career. The artist, however, failed to share this opinion. “He was never seduced by the concretist movement or by neoconcretists, but was merely true to himself and his inner quest”, explained Denise Mattar.
The artist then revisits figuration, a process of return which continued into the 1960s. The straight lines begin to relax suggesting curves to the viewer, e.g. Mulher com o rosto apoiado sobre a mão, Figuras (Women propping face with hand, Figures)(1950s) and the set of four works entitled Figura com Chapéu (Figure wearing Hat)(1958 - 1961).
In the late 1960s, and up until his final years, the artist produced the sensual Vênus, always marked by sinuous lines, drawn freehand without the use of recently discovered aids. Figura e Pássaro (Figure and Bird), 1964, Vênus e Pássaro (Venus and Bird), 1969/70, Figura (Figure), 1964, are examples of this phase, and were a success in the incipient art market at the time.