This text covers the "Primeira Exposição Coletiva de Arte Social,” as defined by Aníbal Machado. [The exhibition] mostly featured drawings and engravings from a “revolutionary tradition.” For the author, the painting of the mid-1930s ---produced both in Europe and in Brazil--- was passing through a “calamitous situation,” “taking refuge in itself,” and even allying itself with the “forces of universal transformation.”
Machado was an enthusiastic supporter of Mexican Muralism and he called on the Brazilian government (the Estado Novo of Getúlio Vargas) to entrust “the creation of murals” on public buildings to “the true artists,” mentioning Candido Portinari, Emiliano Di Cavalcanti, and Hugo Adami, among others. [In Machado’s opinion] they would be able to create “forms and symbols that would spark the interest of the multitudes.” Machado contrasts them with the “art of the elite,” or abstract, which in his judgment was “an invitation to secret pleasure, isolation, or suicide.” [He maintained] that only by representing the Brazilian reality could an artist work with the people in order to unleash a revolutionary process from within the core of society.
The author comments on the works of the following painters: Oswaldo Goeldi, Tomás Santa Rosa, Emiliano Di Cavalcanti, Noemia, Ismael Nery, Alberto [da Veiga] Guignard, Paulo Werneck and Carlos Leão, among others, always highlighting the simplicity and the “vigor” of their forms, as well as the portrayal of the poor in Brazil as the object of representation. [Machado], as the organizer of the show, upholds “the need to avoid any art that avoids the social reality.”