Mariane Ibrahim presents the first solo exhibition of Afro-Brazilian artist No Martins, featuring recent works. No Martins produces a polymorphic art form and has been gaining increasing public recognition in the last few years.
Brazil is home to the second largest Black population after Nigeria; however, racism and inequality within Brazil’s society are higher than ever. The societal problems that hinder the careers of young Afro-Brazilian artists, and the subsequent lack of recognition, stem from a particularly strong and entrenched slave-owning history in the territory. Slavery operated from the 16th to the 19th century, establishing Brazil as the largest slave territory in the Western Hemisphere.
These four centuries of violence and the total absence of human rights have taken their toll on the country’s political and social system, still defining the dramatic disparities in wealth between its citizens. The owners could not, however, prevent the encounter and mutual support existing between the enslaved individuals. These gatherings, feared by the slave owners, could involve celebrations, secular or religious, where spontaneous interactions between people was seen as a threat to the institution of slavery.
The works on canvas in the series «Encontros Políticos» reveal a great mastery of storytelling and expression. The rendering of skin tones receives meticulous care, which is interwoven with swathes of vivid colours, characteristic of the artist’s work. Violet, pink, blue, yellow, and red are combined in almost geometric compositions resulting in vibrant and sensual landscapes. These scenes of encounters are stripped of any ostentation to allow a touching and precise narration to emerge.
The portraits of Black men and women convey a distinctive psychology and unique, individual characteristics, strongly crafted by the artist. The expressiveness and touch of Pop very typical of the whole body of work — underlie a political narrative dear to the artist, notably absent from official colonial narratives. The richness of the oppressed populations, which Westerners have been unable to capture, is precisely what No Martins seeks to portray, with power and dignity.
Text by Claudinei Roberto da Silva, curator.