Carlos Martins (1946 - )

Incêndio no Porão (1985)
Fire in the Basement

Lithograph on paper
height: 39cm
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 Incêndio no Porão 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. 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. In Incêndio no Porão Martins impregnates the architectural stage set surrounding the fire scene with forms reminiscent of indigenous body painting and ceramics. The technique of metal engraving gives this surround its gritty, dense, rust-like texture. The series O Guarany in fact acted as a proposal for 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.

Isobel Whitelegg, 2008

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