Documents of 20th-century Latin American and Latino Art

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    In three short essays—published in the pocket-sized catalogue for an exhibition of Clélia Cotrim Alves, Renina Katz, Francisco Brennand, and Leopoldo Raimo—Wolfgang Pfeiffer, Manuel Germano, and Geraldo Ferraz reflect on a more organic, less geometric phase in the work of Leopoldo Raimo. Pfeiffer writes that “It is exciting to see how Leopoldo Raimo’s painting has now become fully pictorial, abolishing the graphic, geometrized elements of his previous phase and developing the game of form and color in a much stronger, more dynamic and more deliberate way.” Germano sees in Raimo’s impastoed surfaces “a ‘close-up’ effect of the ground, the viscera of the earth.” In this phase, Raimo has broken with the Paris School, “nationalizing his painting in order to put it at the service of the tropics” – an act of metamorphosis that reconciles, rather than destroys, modernisms of Europe and Brazil. For Ferraz, the “free organization” of the canvas creates a sense of rhythm, along with a “dense, voluptuous, vibrant” tactility.

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    Leopoldo Raimo (1912–2001) took drawing classes in high school, though he abandoned art to become a physician in the 1930s. While the biography in this catalogue claims he was a self-taught painter, he was in fact a member of the Atelier Abstração during most of the 1950s, a devoted student of Samson Flexor (1907–71) for nine years. He participated or served on the jury of the II, III, IV, V, VI, and VII Salão Paulista de Arte Moderna. He also took part in the Salão Nacional de Arte Moderna in 1955, 1956, and 1957, and the Salão Baiano de Belas Artes in 1954, 1955 and 1956. A self-described “weekend painter,” Raimo studied printmaking with Livio Abramo at the end of the 1950s, dedicating most of his production to the graphic arts during the 1960s and 1970s. By the time of this exhibition, Raimo’s focus had shifted to an interest in materiality and informalist trends. The exhibition tracks a transitional moment in his career as an artist, as he aligned more closely with the aims of the Galeria de Arte das Folhas.

     

    In 1957, when art patrons of São Paulo felt that important figurative artists had been excluded from the Concrete-focused São Paulo biennial, the industrialist Isaí Leirner (who, at the time, was director of the Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo) sponsored an alternative exhibition of 12 São Paulo-based artists. This initial exhibition, which became known as the Premio Leirner, was held in the lobby of the office building of the newspaper La Folha. Leirner eventually founded a space dedicated to this cause, known as the Galeria de Arte das Folhas, which operated from 1958–62 and hosted not only exhibitions but also debates and conferences that promoted a wider array of tendencies than those backed by the organizers of the São Paulo Bienal. Leirner and the other patrons who coalesced around the Galeria Folha often bought the exhibited art themselves and donated it to museums, thus driving the institutionalization of the showcased artists. In its four years of operation, the gallery exhibited many emerging talents, including Franz Weissmann, Regina Silveira, Maria Helena Andrés, Mário Silésio, Di Cavalcanti, Willys de Castro, and Hermelindo Fiaminghi.

     

    [For more on Leopoldo Raimo, see the following essays in the ICAA digital archive: by Jose Geraldo de Vieira “Leopoldo Raimo” (doc. no. 1306884); “Leopoldo Raimo, Marina Caran, Manabu Mabe desde ontem na Galeria de Arte das Folhas” (doc. no. 1305131); and by Ivo Zanini “Medicina concreta, pintura abstrata: Leopoldo Raimo” (doc. no. 1307029).

     

    For complementary reading on the Galeria de Arte das Folhas, see by Oswald de Andrade Filho “Prêmio Leirner de Arte Contemporânea, 1960” (doc. no. 1232976), and “Murilo Penteado” (doc. no. 1309128); by Luis Martins “Samson Flexor” (doc. no. 1316704); by Geraldo Ferraz “Paulo Rissone” (doc. no. 1322939); by Wolfgang Pfeiffer “Moacyr Rocha” (doc. no. 1309168), and “Niobe Xandó” (doc. no. 1309188); and by Décio Pignatari “Raul Porto” (doc. no. 1309108)].