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In this pocket-sized catalogue for an exhibition of recipients of the Leirner Prize for Contemporary Art in 1960, Lívio Abramo discusses the engravings of Edith Jiménez, who had exhibited at the Galeria Folha before but this time demonstrated “the maturation of her sensibility in the field of engraving.” The fully abstract compositions of Jiménez’s earlier work “now give way to entirely different figurations, in which the poetic spirit is transposed to a fantastic and much freer plane of the naturalistic determinants of yore.” Abramo writes that Jiménez represents a renewal in South American engraving, and that “of this Paraguayan that has formed among us, we can expect even more, as she possesses rare fantasy, an acute sensibility, a timely sense of composition and a strong dramatic sense.”
Edith Jiménez (1918–2004), as Abramo notes, was born in Asunción, Paraguay and studied painting and design with Jaime Bestard. Her first solo exhibition took place in 1952 at the Agustín Barrios Gallery, and she later exhibited works in Paraguay, Argentina, Venezuela, and Uruguay. She represented Paraguay at the II Bienal de São Paulo. In September 1956, she took a printmaking course with the Brazilian-born artist Lívio Abramo in Asunción. With an Itamaraty scholarship, she moved to São Paulo in February 1958 to continue studying printmaking with Abramo at the Escola de Artesanato do Museu de Arte Moderna. Abramo, a self-taught printmaker and politically-committed teacher, gave courses in woodcut printmaking in São Paulo and founded, with Maria Bonomi, the engraving studio there in 1960. In 1962, he moved to Paraguay to work at the Brazil-Paraguay Cultural Mission, later known as the Brazilian Studies Center.
Jiménez’s style, which seems to combine gestures of naturalism and abstraction, suggest a reason for her several exhibitions at the Galeria de Arte das Folhas. When a few years earlier, in 1957, art patrons of São Paulo felt that important figurative artists had been excluded from the Concrete-focused 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.
This catalogue also accompanied exhibitions of Anatol Wladyslaw, Italo Cencini, Mário Zanini, and Antônio Henrique Amaral, fellow recipients of the Leirner Prize for Contemporary Art in 1960. It reproduces one of her works, Abramo’s essay, a biography, and a checklist of works shown: “12 engravings.”
[For complementary reading, see the following documents in the ICAA digital archive: by José Gómez Sicre “Contemporary Art of Paraguay” (doc. no. 1265103); and by Lívio Abramo “Depoimento” (doc. no. 1110573), and “Lívio Abramo, um depoimento: a integridade e a ética de Lívio Abramo: exemplo aos jovens” (doc. no. 1110606).
For more on the Prêmio Leirner de Arte Contemporânea, see by Oswald de Andrade Filho “Prêmio Leirner de Arte Contemporânea, 1960” (doc. no. 1232976), and “Murilo Penteado” (doc. no. 1309128); by Antônio Henrique Amaral “Do Diário do Artista” (doc. no. 1317363); by Benedito Peretto “Mário Zanini” (doc. no. 1317331); by Gerardo Ferraz “Anatol Wladyslaw” (doc. no. 1317311), and “Paulo Rissone” (doc. no. 1322939); by Ariano Suassuna “Francisco Brennand” (doc. no. 1317203); by Wolfgang Pfeiffer et. al. “Leopoldo Raimo” (doc. no. 1316907); by Cláudio Abramo “Renina Katz” (doc. no. 1317183); by Clarival do Prado Valladares “Clélia Cotrim Alves” (doc. no. 1317124); by Luis Martins “Samson Flexor” (doc. no. 1316704); by Wolfgang Pfeiffer “Moacyr Rocha” (doc. no. 1309168), and “Niobe Xandó” (doc. no. 1309188); and by Décio Pignatari “Raul Porto” (doc. no. 1309108)].