By John Black
Even before the pageantry of the opening ceremony for the 2016 Olympic Games was watched by millions of people around the globe, stories of the host city, Rio de Janeiro, were flooding the airwaves and the internet. While some of the stories celebrated the city, its culture and its people, the majority of the reports people read and watched focused on the negative, everything from crime on the streets to the quality of the water in the Olympic swimming pools.
Fernando De Oliveira from The Alternative Art Space Gallery at SOWA has a plan to change the way people think about Rio. He and co-curator Sandra Erse, vice president of the Brazilian Association of Design and Visual Arts, have put together a new exhibition, From Rio With Love, that collects a wide variety of art that explore the day to day life in the city of Rio da Janeiro.
“I was in Rio and met Sarah. We started talking about all the great art in the city and how many different styles of art could be found there,” De Oliveira said. “It was very casual conversation and we even talked about how great it would be to put together a show…and now it’s going to happen.”
The artworks collected for the exhibit include paintings, mixed media and works on paper representing both emerging and accomplished artists in Brazil. The co-curators started with a list of more than 200 artists to be considered for the show. Through a lengthy and painstaking review process, De Oliveira said, he and Erse managed to edit their artistic wish list down to 17.
“The idea of the exhibit is to show the world the Rio that these artists celebrate in their work,” De Oliveira said. “It’s a Rio that most people who have never been there don’t even know exists. For example, there’s a rain forest park in the middle of the city that not many outsiders know about, but it’s something the people in Rio have a very strong connection to, almost on a spiritual level.”
In the show, a good example of an artist and her connection to nature would be the paintings of Izabel Mano who, with nature as her focal subject, captures the landscapes and delicate flowers of the city using light and strong colors, painting in oils that in the final work resemble watercolor works. Marineide Machado, who also captures nature on her canvas, describes her work as a moment of peace and great pleasure.
Artist Ramon Brandao has a different take on the “nature” of the city: Old automobiles are the passion and trademark of his work. He finds his inspirations while walking in the streets. Brando sketches showcase his skills to capture the common image and transform them into a poetic art.
From Rio With Love will be on exhibit at The Alternative Art Space Gallery September 2–12, 2016. The opening reception will be Friday, September 2, from 5-9 PM.