The Haunting and Beautiful Art of Abelardo da Hora

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Some of you will have seen yesterday that Maria and I went to the Caixa Cultural São Paulo art gallery and museum. There were three main exhibitions, and the second that made a huge impact on me was the haunting and beautiful sculptures of Abelardo da Hora, a Brazilian artist born in 1924 in São Lourenço da Mata, Pernambuco.

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

I cannot tell you too much about Abelardo at this moment in time, as I have not had the time to research him. But I did find this quote from him about his work:

I do my art responding to a vital need. Like who loves or suffers, is happy or rebelling, approves or denounces and attacks. The fruit of things life teaches…

The strongest mark of my work however has been suffering and solidarity. The tonic is love: love for life, which is also manifested by the violent reaction against hunger and misery, against all types of brutality, against oppression and exploitation.

Source

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Yesterday morning I read Gadamer’s great essay “Aesthetics and Hermeneutics” in which he wrote:

For of all the things that confront us in nature and history, it is the work of art that speaks to us most directly. It possesses a mysterious intimacy that grips our entire being, as if there were no distance at all and every encounter with it were an encounter with ourselves.

The power in Abelardo’s work is just that. This was a monumental encounter with hunger, and the agony and sadness and desperation of this experience which is so far my own reality and world. It is one thing to be moved by images on television, but as you will see, the sculptures capture amazingly the expressions and exmotions and pain of children with who are pretty much skin and bone with visible and prominent rib cages. The sculptures are truly haunting.

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

In addition, Abelardo is also an accomplished artist and his sketches were almost as potent in their depiction of desperate poverty from the north of Brazil.

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Of course in equal measure, many of Abelardo’s sculptures capture the beauty of women in an exaggerated but still exquisite manner.

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

Photo: Simon Robinson

It isn’t that often that I am so moved by sculpture, and Abelardo’s works force a direct encounter with one of the most desperate of human conditions. It is an extremely moving exhibition, with great beauty as well, and not to be missed.

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