Carlos Martins (1946 - )

Pão de açúcar (1996)
Sugar Loaf

Aquatint on paper


Donated by Carlos Martins 1998


This study for an operatic stage set is related to an earlier series of prints entitled O Guarany, of which five examples are held by ESCALA. Martins began work on the series in 1983, each scene evolving in a meticulous process that combines printing from the original engraved plate and a series of subtle adjustments made using monotype techniques . 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 that 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. The series acted as a proposal for stage scenery and it was finally developed on a theatrical scale in 1996 for a concert at the Teatro Municipal, Rio de Janeiro, commemorating the centenary of Gomes' death. Pão de Açucar was produced in the process of transforming the 1985 prints into large-scale stage scenery. For the depiction of lush forest vegetation that forms the backdrop to many scenes of the opera, 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 vision of Brazil. 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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