The Ritual of the Serpent in the Artistic Imaginary, Afro Brasil Museum

The double exhibition “José de Guimarães – The Ritual of the Serpent: 10 Gouaches Inspired by the Work of Aby Warburg” and “The Serpent in the Artistic Imaginary”, which displays around 100 works that capture the symbolism of the snake in the arts. The snake is the subject of these exhibitions because it has always “captured” man’s attention, has a rich iconography and has the characteristics of temperate patterns: life and death, good and evil, for example.

One of the most important artists in Portugal today, known for his rigorous use of colors, José de Guimarães presents his most recent work, made especially for the celebrations of the ten years of the Afro Brazil Museum. The ten gouaches mirror his pictorial interpretation of the work of art historian Aby Warburg (1866-1929). The German scholar was in North America, at the end of the 19th century, to research the “Ritual of the Serpent” of the Hopi Indians.

José Maria Fernandes Marques, also known by the pseudonym José de Guimarães ( Guimarães, 25 of November of 1939 ) is an artist Portuguese.

Born in 1939, José de Guimarães is considered one of the main Portuguese artists of contemporary art, having a vast and remarkable work in painting, sculpture and other creative activities, which makes him one of the most awarded Portuguese artists. Many of his works are exhibited in several European museums, as well as in the United States of America, Brazil, Canada, Israel and Japan.

More recently, in Portugal, José de Guimarães had a strong involvement with the European Capital of Culture, in Guimarães, which saw the birth of the José de Guimarães International Arts Center (CIAJG), integrated in the Platform of Arts and Creativity. The National Press-Mint itself marked the European Capital of Culture by minting a commemorative coin by the artist. In 1990, he was awarded the title of Commander of the Order of Infante D. Henrique by the then President of the Portuguese Republic.

He joined the Military Academy and the Engineering course at the Technical University in Lisbon in 1957. He started his artistic training the following year by attending painting classes with Teresa Sousa and Gil Teixeira Lopes and studying printmaking at the Cooperative Society of Portuguese Engravers. Between 1961 and 1966, he traveled through Europe, getting to know the work of former masters ( including Rubens) and completed his Engineering degree. Your career “it would be defined by the discovery of distant and unusual regions, from Africa to Japan, from Mexico to China. Each of these cultures stimulated him to develop a universal language and to transmit an imaginary universe that, after all, revives the memory of Portuguese history itself, made up of enriching relations with distant countries “.

José de Guimarães’s art is at the same time one and multiple, like the artist himself, who, by allowing himself to be contaminated by a diversity of cultures, creates mestizo communication and identity, regenerating patterns and singularities.

Holder of a huge collection of African art that has been shown in several countries (Brazil, Spain, Portugal), José de Guimarães usually says that he collects what is related to his work but it is evident that it is the devices of primitivism that above all they are interested in. The arts integrated in the community, participating in it, guaranteeing fertility, health, the hiding place of death, the celebration of the gods, the accomplice fraternity with animals.

Between the mythical past of pre-colonial Africa, the modernist cultures of Europe in 1900 and the creative frenzy of the immense contemporary peripheries, there are substantive links of sharing and belonging that the artist continues to question and provoke. And if he succeeds, it is because that culture is also his, an artist from the small periphery that is Portugal, open, over the sea, to the values ​​of miscegenation. “- (Raquel Henriques da Silva)

José de Guimarães, says in this regard as a collector: “My biggest goal as a collector is not just collecting from the other side, there is done with recognition and respect for another culture like someone Portugal sailing Portuguese from the oceans, and found new worlds, and mixtures.. created new visions – to some degree, my artistic work has followed these bands of sailors from the past that approach the cultures of other regions this is taken into account with respect to another culture that makes or makes me admire her making me want to see and appreciate.. as closely as through her art.

The exhibition
The exhibition “The Serpent in the Imaginary Artistic” captures all the extensive symbology of the serpent in the arts. It is found in the gueledé masks, and in the variegated bottles and flags of Haitian voodoo, which are part of the show. Its tortuous shapes inspired the artists’ vision: it sneaks into the sculpture by Mestre Didi, and the Beninese Kifouli, reverberates on the canvas by Siron Franco, and is embedded in the engraving by Gilvan Samico. Works by Carybé, Juarez Paraíso, Francisco Graciano, Noemisa Batista dos Santos, as well as works by Benin and Haiti will also be on display. The works of this exhibition belong to the collection of the Afro Brasil Museum.

In this show, the gueledés masks, bottles and flags of Haitian voodoo and also in the inspiration in the works, sculptures and canvases of artists such as Carybé, Mestre Didi, Siron Franco, Gilvan Samico, among others, in addition to productions from the Benin and Haiti.

In the middle of the works, the visitor can check, for example, the carving “Vodoun Dan, Divinity of Azouassi” (2007), by Kifouli Dorsou; and “Reptiles” (2012), by Carmela Gross, made of brass plated with nickel.

Afro Brasil Museum
Museu Afro Brasil is a public institution, held by São Paulo State Secretariat for Culture and managed by Associação Museu Afro Brasil – Organização Social de Cultura (Museu Afro-Brasil Association – Social Organization for Culture)

It aims to be a contemporary museum where the black people can be recognized.

Over than 6,000 works highlight the importance of African people in the formation of Brazilian culture, heritage and identity as known nowadays. Also, it offers a celebration of the art and accomplishments of the Africans and Afro-Brazilians.

The Collection is considered the largest Afro – American in American with more than 6,000 masterpieces, sculptures, documents, engravings, ceramics, paintings, contemporary arts, jewelry, objects, reliefs, photographs and textiles.

Over than 70% of the collection is in the long term exhibition, portraying mainly Brazil, some countries from the African Continent, Cuba, Haiti and the United States.