Plínio Palhano

The first spur of the Modernist movement came from the plastic arts.
Manuel Bandeira

Abaporu was the title Tarsila do Amaral gave to her work, turned out in 1928, which enthused the then her husband Oswald de Andrade. It is a painting that, according to Tarsila, showed up representing a strange figure with a savage feature. For that reason, she looked for a name to identify it. Looking up words in a Tupi dictionary, she stumbled upon - Abaporu: man-eater. Here is the beginning of the anthropophagic phase of Tarsila do Amaral. Starting from this work, Oswald de Andrade developed a whole theory: our natural Brazilian anthropophagy by eating every foreign realities, creates a national identity.

When The Modern Art Week (1922) commemorated its 80s, in Recife it counted on the participation of Pernambucan artists, but the local public agencies made faint references to this historical millestone of the present art, thus missing the opportunity of plunging into the discussion about this almost secular movement.

The principal public venues (museums and galleries) kept in their agendas for 2002, publicized by the press, a schedule which, to a certain extent, had no obligation to the attention given before to the questions about the Modernist movement. It would fall to the Fundação Joaquim Nabuco, which has a gallery called Vicente do Rego Monteiro, to lodge the retrospective exhibition of the works by Vicente, one of the most outstanding representatives of Pernambuco at The Modern Art Week who, on the occasion, presented works with national themes more advanced than those exhibited by many of his peers.

The Universidade Federal de Pernambuco (Federal University of Pernambuco) has works by Vicente do Rego in its Culture Department, but does not exhibit them, as well as the Plastic Arts Course, in turn, does not do both historical or aesthetic researches on his works. On the other hand, the Museum of Modern Art Aloísio Magalhães - MAMAM - set up to address matters like this, as its name hints, should open alike retrospective exhibition with works by Cícero Dias, today regarded as the top of the Pernambucan art, the living Modernism, whose art has not been duly researched in Pernambuco yet: an opportunity for a deeper understanding of his historical dimension. Despite the late launching of his book - Uma Vida pela Pintura (A Life for Picture) - financed by the private enterprise, at the Government Palace, it was not enough for Pernambuco to honour this debt. These two grand restropective exhibitions - Vicente and Cícero - would attract artists, critics, museologists and curators to discuss the participation of Pernambuco in the Brazilian Modernism, which would give both historical visibility and an updated knowledge on the aesthetic contribution of these Pernambucan painters.

It is plain that the public managers had time to score, in a meaningful way, the Pernambucan presence in the commemorations of the Brazilian Modernism, in the earlier managements. They were sailing on the beguiling waters of the Guggenheim, which charged us more than US$ 8 million for the exhibition "Corpo e Alma" (Body and Soul), held in New York, and from Pernambuco they took the altar of the Monastery of Saint Benedict, in Olinda, maybe the only artistic piece they found worth representing us. It is worth underscoring the initiative of the plastic artist Paulo Brusky, who carries out an important research on Vicente do Rego Monteiro, as well as his intention of, in the future, making the researched collection available for the public. Initiatives like these may lead to the creation of a public data bank containing the artistic movements of Pernambuco.

Why not realize this access in covenant with the universities and start to form a data bank for the plastic arts? Information would be democratized for all.

Memory may have a dialogue with the present-day art as it happens in São Paulo, where the art history is preserved and shared with the universities, which give technical and scientific support. Right now, besides launching the 25th Biennial, the third most important in the world, having "Iconografias Metropolitanas" (Metropolitan Iconographies) as its subject-matter, São Paulo, at the same time, is holding, with similar importance, exhibitions of private collections with works by artists of the XX century at Museu de Arte Moderna (Museum of Modern Art), with titles as Espelho Selvagem (Savage Mirror), Primeira Metade do Século XX (First Half of the XX Century): Coleção Nemirovsky (Nemirovsky Collection) and Paralelos (Comparisons), Segunda Metade do Século 20 em Contexto (Second Half of the XX Century in Context): Coleção Cisneiros (Cisneiros Collection), which, for sure, make us think and reassess the Brazilian Modernism.