monteiro Lobato declares his love for Rio de Janeiro by stating that the city, during the creation of the world, was the storehouse of God in an article published in a book (“Luvas!” in Onda Verde, 1920). In the first six days he took all the beauties from his store and deposited them in the various places: fatigued, on the seventh day he rested, leaving the storehouse in the greatest mess with scattered beauties and mixed with all that is the corner of the city.
This was the sensation I had when I visited the rooms with works by the Marcos Amaro Foundation at the Fábrica de Arte Marcos Amaro (FAMA), housed in an old textile factory built in 1903 in Itu, São Paulo: generous spaces with works – some truly exceptional – arranged in a a kind of warehouse requesting a greater order of visibility for the exhibited works or that explains, for example, the reasons why a sculpture attributed to Aleijadinho is in the middle of others produced in the last decades. However, despite this impression of being in an undecided place between being a storage place or an exhibition space, the sensation was of fascination with that concept of art and culture factory still in the process of formulation.
How will the factory behave after the adaptations coming soon? How many workshops will it host, how many auditoriums will it have, what will its final appearance look like? And what about the collection, will that impression of blurring between storage and exhibition rooms continue? An important clue to the development of the collection seems to be evident when one visits the exhibition annexed to the rooms of the collection described here. This is the exhibition “Aproximações – A Brief Introduction to Brazilian Art of the Twentieth Century. With curatorship by Aracy Amaral, the exhibition presents a selection of works from the end of the 19th century until the middle of the last century. Starting with the first version of O descanso da Modelo, 1885, by Almeida Jr., belonging to the Marcos Amaro Foundation. In addition to this painting, other exhibits also belong to the same institution: two Eliseu Visconti, three Portinari and one more work by each of the following artists: Pedro Americo, Castagneto, Lasar Segall, Antonio Gomide, Victor Brecheret, Cicero Dias, Ismael Nery, Di Cavalcanti, Flávio de Carvalho, Guignard and Arcangelo Ianelli.
In spite of the established vision of what would be the “art in Brazil” of that period, there seems to be no doubt that “Aproximações” (that was extended until September 1st) behaves as a link between the aforementioned sculpture attributed to Aleijadinho – half lost in the other exhibition – the great segment of contemporary local art – the fort of the collection. This linkage that the Amaral show explicitly signals to a becoming of the Collection of the Marcos Amaro Foundation, transforming it into a Brazilian art museum, from the passage from the eighteenth to the nineteenth century until the present time.
Even though this narrative about what may have been art in Brazil in recent centuries has been reviewed in recent years, there seems to be no doubt about how important a collection of this size in a city like Itu will be, so that new research can be developed in the sense of – who knows – to reconsider this vision about the Brazilian artistic phenomenon that has become hegemonic. After all, good works are not lacking in the collection. If in its contemporary segment – under the responsibility of Ricardo Resende – stand out works of Tunga, Fábio Miguez and Beto Shwafaty, among others, the modern segment is not behind. After all, there are some works that will certainly remain as paradigms of the art produced in Brazil, whatever the focus given, such as Almeida Jr., Segall and Guignard paintings present.
After the visit, I was thinking: despite all the problems inherent in an undertaking still in the process of settlement, which gift to Itu is the presence of FAMA! Which gift for the country, in these dark times, is the presence of Marcos Amaro, acting with all the enthusiasm of his youth for the sake of art and culture. He and his collection of public vocation – within a factory that has everything to become a powerhouse of art and knowledge – give rise to the hope that not everything is lost, or being lost, in Brazil.