The six paintings here were created by one of the most multifaceted Brazilian artists of the 20th century, Niobe Xandó. Dating from 1968 to 1975, the selection aims to discuss the paradox found in Xandó’s artistic production, which she described as a meeting between the archaic and contemporary: archaic, resembling pre-historic cave paintings, and contemporary as it retrieves the primitive gesture in a world overwhelmed by visual cliches. The image, in the hands of Xandó, is turned back on its own dynamic, rendering modern figuration problematic. Without recourse to a regression or even revival of the past, her work focuses on the present. In her masks, creatures are reduced to their essence, to the elements, to synthesis. Energy is addressed through graphic explosion, albeit anchored in monochromatic backgrounds at times, varying in scale and expression. Xandó's poetic intention lies in the accumulation of matter, painting that emerges from the surface.
Niobe Xandó (born 1915 in Campos Novos Paulista, Brazil) was a self-taught painter and writer. With over five decades of work, Xandó began her career in 1947 as a figurative painter and even painted directly onto tree trunks, i.e., ‘land art’ avant la lettre. Inspired by the figurative work of Gauguin, Munch, and Chagall, as well as the abstraction of totems and masks, she coined a term of her own, Mechanicismo, to describe the clash between the archaic and contemporary, man and machine. At the age of 16, she married a prominent communist militant and was deeply involved in the leftist scene of São Paulo in the 1930s. In the 1950s, she befriended the Czech philosopher Vilém Flusser, who wrote three articles on her work. She died in 2010 in São Paulo.