Carlos Martins (1946 - )

Ante a esplanada do solar do castelo (1995)
In Front of the Castle Espanade

Etching, aquatint and monotype on paper
height: 39.5cm
width: 53cm

Donated by Carlos Martins 1998


Martins' interest in the arts of 19th century Brazil provides a point of access into a series of prints entitled O Guarany, of which Ante A Esplanada do Solar is one of five examples held by ESCALA. O Guarany refers to the opera of the same name, composed by Carlos Gomes between 1868 and 1870, and presented at La Scala, Milan, following Gomes' move from Rio de Janeiro to Italy in 1864. O Guarany is a four act opera set in sixteenth century Rio; it tells the story of a Romeo and Juliet romance between Ceci, the daughter of a Portuguese nobleman and Pery, leader of the Tupi-Guarani Indians, native to Brazil. For the depiction of lush forest vegetation that forms the background, Martins photographed engravings by the German artist Zu-Weid, who visited Brazil in the 19th century. Selecting details to include within his own engraving, these appropriated images suggest a romanticised European vision of Brazil. Martins began work on this series in 1983, each scene evolving in a meticulous process that combined printing from the original engraved plate with a series of subtle adjustments made using monotype techniques. The series acted as a proposal for stage scenery, and it was finally transformed into this scale in 1996, for a concert at the Teatro Municipal, Rio de Janeiro, commemorating the centenary of Gomes' death. Four further works held by ESCALA are studies produced in the process of transforming the 1985 prints into large-scale stage scenery. Martins' interest in European images of Brazil is longstanding. In 1991 he curated the exhibition 'Viajantes Britânicos no Rio de Janeiro do século 19' and since 1996 he has acted as a consultant to the Fundação Estudar's 'Coleção Brasiliana' (a collection of works produced by European traveller-artists) in São Paulo.

Isobel Whitelegg, 2008

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