17 January 2009

In Country: Memorial de Curitiba

Prior to colonization by the Portuguese, the original inhabitants of this region were the Tupi. Indeed the word curitiba is thought to have its origins in Tupi or Guarani, two of the most prominent indigenous languages in the pre-contact era. Most etymologists relate the term to the pinion pine, a tree which is quite prevalent in the region.

Brasil's indigenous origins are frequently given the nod in public artwork, including the mural found at Curitiba's Memorial building near the Largo do Ordem. On the far right one can make out two unclothed individuals, in what is certainly a romanticized Euro-centric perspective of the noble savages of the New World. Moving across the scene to the left is an artistic rendition of the first Portuguese ship which landed here in 1500. On the far right one can see the image of the modern man -- clothed in white, which is a Brasilian symbol for cleanliness -- holding a naked woman. She represents Carnivale which is typically celebrated in January or February.The Memorial de Curitiba was constructed in 1996 in an attempt at promoting the history, art and culture of the city. It is a fabulous, multi-storied display of (mostly) modern art. My favorite was this glass mosaic piece by Soeli Ferenc. She applied small pieces of glass to larger sheets in a pyramid shape. In the middle of the pyramid sits a lamp. The soft glow of the lighting creates a soothing effect of green and brown garden shapes.

Other installations at the Memorial de Curitiba include this bronze reproduction sculpture entitled A Tocadora de Guitarra by Victor Brecheret (1894-1955). Although there is some disagreement about Brecheret's place of birth (whether in Italy or Brasil), he is considered one of the most important 20th century Brasilian sculptors to work in the Modernist style. More information about him can be found at http://www.victor.brecheret.nom.br/indexing.htm . With its sensuous shape and clean lines it strikes a strong contrast to the flowing water of the fountain placed next to it.
After spending a couple hours exploring the Memorial de Curitiba, we talked with an employee. He claimed that the idea for the Memorial came from the then mayor of Curitiba, Rafael Greca de Macedo. Although I have not yet been able to confirm that information anywhere else, it does not seem improbable as Greca de Macedo is involved in many activities to do with city planning and history of the region. Here is a link to more information about him: http://uninews.unicredito.it/en/articles/page.php?id=7944&media=print .

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