Navegar é preciso...(Sailing is a must)
17.10 – 04.12 / 2017
A leading figure of Brazilian modernism, José Pancetti preferred painting en plein air. His paintings tend to be small so that he could ferry them from one place to another. In his trips throughout Brazil, he painted the beaches of Salvador, the mountains of Campos do Jordão, the steep streets of São João Del Rei, and numerous other typically Brazilian landscapes. The artist also did portraits of his fellow countrymen and painted many self-portraits. His vast output can be viewed at the exhibition Pancetti - Navegar é Preciso (Sailing is a Must), put on by the Almeida & Dale Gallery from 17 October.
Devised by curator Denise Mattar, the exhibition brings together around 60 paintings, organized by theme, alongside photos, manuscripts and letters. The last major exhibition dedicated to the artist was held in 2002, at the Bahia Museum of Art, and travelled to other capital cities. Fifteen years on, the public can now see most of the painter´s work, such as the famous seascapes, one of the most well-known facets of his work.
Pancetti was a sailor from the age of 16 and remained so until 34 years of age. His proximity to the sea is reflected in 25 of the show´s works, which includes the artist’s first paintings portraying boats and buildings, as well as works produced at the end of his life. These latter images near abstraction, being reduced to sand, light and the sea. Cabo Frio, Itanhaém and Arraial do Cabo are some of the locations represented by Pancetti, attentive to the subtleties of each.
According to the art critic Frederico Moraes, the work of this modernist is marked by a constant sobriety allied with lyricism. “Pancetti´s painting is like a ship´s deck, aged by the sun and salt. It doesn´t rust. Honest, clean, economical, direct, austere, almost dry, even when the color expands and the gesture harbors emotion. There is nothing superfluous and no excess to be found”.
This aridness is evident in his series of cityscapes, produced at the beginning of the artist´s career in the 1940s. The works depict enclosed places, like courtyards, streets and alleyways, always employing dark hues. A feeling of melancholy and suffocation associated with big city life predominates. In these landscapes and also in some his still-life work, the influence of masters such as Paul Cézanne (1839-1906) and Henri Matisse (1869-1954) come through.
His pallet acquired more colorful tones after living in Salvador, in 1950, the year in which he took part in the Venice Biennial. According to curator Denise Mattar, moving city was a watershed in his career: “Pancetti´s move to Bahia changed both his personality and his work, happiness softened the artist, and he flourished into hot strong colors. With no concerns with a theoretical “Brazilness”, Pancetti depicted our people, light and oceans like nobody else”.
The warm colors also appeared in the different portraits that the modernist produced during his life. Children, washer women and prostitutes were some of the subjects he painted, paying homage to the working classes of which he felt part. For the art critic Marc Berkowitz, this enchantment with simplicity also emerges in the conception of the work: “Pancetti was unconcerned about fashion, or the “isms”, he painted as he saw fit, with that integrity so typical of him”.
The exhibition also shows his famous self-portraits, which the artist endowed with multiple personalities: sailor, farm laborer, admiral, fisherman. In these paintings, Pancetti is always painted from the side view in dramatic or unusual tones. “The artist eagerly took risks, painting his fantasies and assuming different personalities, giving each of these personas different psychological densities”, highlights the curator.
On 11 November, the gallery launched the catalogue Pancetti - Navegar é Preciso as an action for Art Weekend – an event promoting circuits among galleries, which extended their opening hours at the weekend, offering the public a series of activities parallel to the shows at the venues.
Showing until 9th of December, the exhibition is part of a larger project run by the gallery concentrating on the output of the great names in Brazilian art, such as the exhibitions of Raimundo Cela, Ernesto de Fiori, Di Cavalcanti, Ismael Nery, among others. At the current show, the gallery pays homage to Pancetti´s unique work, an artist who strongly identified with the Brazil´s landscapes and people.