Justice and the herd

Image: Quino.


Considerations on the cartoons of Marcos Ravelli, Quinho

Visual arts, historically, have very specific narrative characteristics, such as the ability to touch hearts and minds in a sensitive way. By “mind” is meant culture, intelligence, the ability to interpret symbols and hidden messages. The old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words is nothing more than a popular definition of this quality.

Older than the word, the image has been present since the dawn of humanity, as witnessed by caves and rocks around the world. Even after the Gutenberg revolution, it continued to have space in all kinds of publications, through engravings, drawings and paintings. With the advent of photography, a new field of symbolic action was opened, which only expanded in the digital age.

The old cartoon, that drawing-comment about situations or people, usually with critical or ironic content, emerged in the mid-eighteenth century and indispensable from the popularization of the written press, is still present and strong in all social networks. And it is on one of them that I dwell, after a September 7th with so many expectations and such a fiasco.

Marcos Ravelli, who signs his cartoons as Quinho, has produced anthological pieces. Combining an economy of lines with attentive and refined humor, he is an artist with full command of the narrative resources of the image. Pay attention to the ability to summarize the illustration above, released in several vehicles in recent days.

Quinho places the figure of Justice at the center. Not just any justice, but the one represented by the sculpture by Alfredo Ceschiatti, which decorates the Ministry of Justice, in Brasília, recognizable by the singular head, with the upper part covered by the traditional blindfold (“Justice is blind”). The original statue is placidly seated, sword across its thighs. In Quinho's work, the statue stands up, wielding the sword in an attitude of defense. In the other arm, he holds a red cloth, which immediately reminds us of the figure of a bullfighter.

Completing the analogy, we see the shadow of an enormous bull, recognizable by its horns, projecting itself over the central character. To the side, several other shadows symbolize the cattle, the herd that accompanies the leader, the horned-mor.

The representation of the current clash between the powers in Brazil is perfect. On the one hand, Justice, absolute power – which cannot be confused with some of its earthly representatives, sometimes cowardly and caricatured –, on the other hand, the occupant of the Executive, instigator of coups and attacks on democracy.

Someone distracted might argue that this clash lacks the presence of the people, of social and popular organizations that are also on the streets defending the rule of law. Well, let's go back to the red cloth. The color of fraternity, according to the principles of the French Revolution, can also be understood as a provocation to one of the favorite phrases of right-wing activists: “our flag will never be red”.

But when Justice raises a red flag to face the totalitarian madness of the president and his henchmen, two lines of interpretation are opened. Either Justice uses the people to defend its leaders, or, what is more likely, it needs the people to face attacks on its principles. Starting from a humanist like Quinho, we undoubtedly opted for the second hypothesis, although the irony of the first cannot be totally discarded.

In this synthetic portrait of the convulsed moment we are experiencing, the flag needs to be red (also symbolically, of course), since the threatening herd has usurped the traditional yellow-green. Both to preserve what remains of Justice and to reinforce the need for fraternity, circumventing possible political divergences, it is with it that we will overcome the crisis and restore full democracy, which we tasted not so long ago.

* Daniel Brazil is a writer, author of the novel suit of kings (Penalux), screenwriter and TV director, music and literary critic.


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