If I had to choose three Maureen Bisilliat pictures, among the ones displayed in the exposition (organized by the Instituto Moreira Salles at the SESI’s Galeria de Artes, in S. Paulo, Brazil) one would be the Cartola‘s portrait (Cartola em casa, morro da Mangueira, 1969. Rio de Janeiro, RJ ); Cartola is one of the samba fathers, he appears thin, as consumed by a strong enthusiasm, but smiling, the cigarette smoke designing a strange mask in his face; the brilliant pink dominates the front of the scene, where a brown background hosts some symbols of the singer, like the guitar (pink, with its opposite light green, the colours of the Mangueira traditional Rio school of samba).
Brown is the main colour of the series vaqueiros (Vaqueiros no sert ão do Ceará, 1969. Ceará, Brasil); the image that impressed me the most, is a portrait, where the man’s hat is of a reddish brown, as his face itself: smoothed by the same winds and the same tanning. This monochrome face stands against a monochrome pale blue background, far from the violent black & white of the picture from the book Bahia amada Amado .
Here the fishermen’s features disappear against the shiny sea, lightened by the sun, and the men are black shadows within a dazzling light; there is not any moral meaning: they, the shadows are coming to catch from the light the fruit of the light: a fish that, shining, the central fisherman offers to the observer.
Among these extremes, is the crab’s catcher (from the essay Caranguejeiras, i.e. crabs catcher, of 1968). Here a man mingles with the mud that wraps up him, and where he was swallowed to catch some cancer he is now handling. A grey statue occupies the scene: an ambiguous grey indeed, with pearl-coloured nuances.
More about Maureen Bisilliat:
- Maureen Bisilliat at the Instituto Moreira Salles (in Portuguese)
- Maureen Bisillat at the Enciclopedia Itaú Cultural (in Portuguese)