A view on south – american graphic art


‘In Latin America engravings were first produced as images in religious books at the time of colonisation, but the destiny of engraving was not tied to graphic illustration as it was in Europe (especially between the 15th and the 19th centuries); rather it gained value as a complementary instrument, as an alternative, maybe, to the art from the Academies, in which painting was the official means of expression. During the 20th century, starting above all from the renewal movements of ” La-tin-American plastic”, engraving started to become popular among the avantguard and to spread as an adequate technique to express the contents of this new art. Two main genres of Latin-American engraving were thus born: the popular image, and the more refined art, made popular by the mass-media. The engraving of the “hojas volande-ras” in Mexico, the illustration of “cordel” literature in Brazil, the simple and direct xylographic art by some Paraguayan artists, are all deeply original expressions of popular Latin-American art; they all express a collective character through shapes and symbols from the creative tradition of the people. The engravings of Posada and Mancilla are examples of the rich graphical expression of sacred art, with a very strong tradition in Mexico, made of stories, songs, verses, ‘examples’ and prayers which express popular sensitivity by means of small, precarious publications dating back to the first years of the colonies. Since then a strong picture, able to give a new interpretation of its own time, developed. “Cordel” literature (pages hanging on a string, or cordel) has Lusitan roots in the popular diffusion of stories, novels and poems which, in the form of “Depliants”, had been introduced by the colonists in the 16th century and enriched with living symbols of popular culture, based on narrations of anecdotes from religion, catastrophes, lives of bandits, messianic manifestations, portraits of artists, and so forth. Paraguay saw a great development of a kind of “fighting” journalism, during the Great War against the Triple Alliance (1865-70); it became a very important phenomenon because it could convey the ideas of the people. It did not have a long life in that it was destroyed by the same circumstances which had made its birth possible. The panels of the exhibition show some of the most significant moments of this type of Latin-American graphical art, which remains almost unknown.’


25 Agosto 1984 - 09 Gennaio 1984


Exhibitions Meeting Exhibitions