Opinion 65

Roberto Magalhães, Untitled , 1965 , Photographic reproduction Paulo Scheuenstuhl


Commentary on the exhibition, a historical landmark for the visual arts in Brazil.

More than an exhibition of young and talented Brazilian artists and foreign representatives of the “new realism”, the 1965 exhibition was the moment when plastic artists returned to “opinion”, artistically and politically. Opposing, almost all, to abstraction, they were associated with the international tendencies of a “new figuration”, of renewal of the image, including with pop resonances. More or less explicitly, in most of them the allusion to the socio-political context manifests the attitude of non-conformity towards the situation caused by the 1964 coup.

As in other artistic and cultural areas, these artists responded to the imperative of the moment: to articulate languages ​​that could handle the aesthetic rearticulation and the ethical-political demands of the reaction to the military regime. The imaginary of rupture and invention intertwined the artistic and the political, at least in the most effective proposals: those that, unlike the direct politicization of previous years, did not distinguish between aesthetic renewal and political criticism.

The name of the show-show, “Opinião”, from December 64, had already created a happy sign: the song by Zé Kéti, sung by Nara Leão and later by Maria Bethânia, set the tone for the protest: “Can you arrest me/ You can hit me/I won’t change my mind”. An opinion that, everywhere, meant nonconformity and resistance, now outdated. Although diverse in force, the Teatro de Arena show and the exhibition generated directions for most of the demonstrations that extended (and distended) the sign of contestation until December 1968.

À Opinion 65 followed Proposals 65, Opinion 66, New Brazilian Objectivity (1967) and others. Heterogeneous, without constituting itself, properly, in a movement with unit of thought, the activity of the plastic artists constituted a specific position of the Brazilian avant-garde, considered by Hélio Oiticica “a new phenomenon in the international panorama”.

The specific and the new refer to the way in which the aesthetic redistribution, processed in all artistic centers, was culturally transfigured here, since, in addition to conveying all sorts of innovation, it articulated the critique of art (and the art system) to the political contestation with particular effectiveness. It is the proposal of collective participation, which disintegrates the object of art and implies a resizing of the protagonists (artists and public), which in Brazil was new and unique. In Opinion 65 there were already signs of this, at least with the “parangolés” of Hélio Oiticica, although works by Escosteguy, Vergara, Gerchman, Antonio Dias and Flávio Império, for example, also indicated decisive paths for the art of the period.

The 65 exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in Rio de Janeiro was conceived by art dealer Jean Boghici, from Galeria Relevo, and art critic Ceres Franco, who saw connections between the work of Brazilian artists interested in the “return to figuration”. and some French artists or those residing in Paris who were in the same direction, including political and social concerns. The objective of the initiative was to update the artistic environment, combining aesthetic contribution and market vision. And this was also important, as it highlighted unknown or little-known artists and started the process of “dialectization” of the medium.

The confrontation served to clearly differentiate the European “new realism” from the Brazilian experiments, both in the work with the image and in the ways of opposition to informalism and concretism, as well as in the figuration (or allegorization) of the political. Although the intention was not to propose a “political perspective”, as Jean Boghici and participating artists stated several times, the result did not contradict it, starting with the designation of the exhibition and translated into several works on display. Diverse trends were exposed, from pop to magical realism, from neoconcrete objects and neodada to expressive figurativism. But, in everything, it was intended to be “anti” and “against”.

*Celso Favaretto is an art critic, retired professor at the Faculty of Education at USP and author, among other books, of The invention of Helio Oiticica (Edusp).




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