Five series of 18 framed “photo-paintings,” made by master-painters from Cariri (the Northeast Region of Brazil) – Mestre Jean, Mestre Júlio, Mestre Cícero, Mestre Demontier, Mestre Abdom – and based on portraits made in Carrazeda de Ansiães (Portugal) by Eduardo Pinto, Rui Lopes and Rui Martins; mixed media with gelatin-silver prints, 40 x 30 cm
Carrazeda+Cariri is a project based on five series of painted photo-based portraits. The men who are portrayed, however, have never been to Brazil. They live in a remote part of Portugal, in a village called Carrazeda de Ansiães. The portraits were made from photos of them that were taken from the Internet.
“Photo-painting” (retrato pintado) – a traditional technique in portraiture – is about to disappear from certain distant areas of Brazil because of the lack of photographic materials available there. Despite being familiar with the “realistic” digital portrait, the simple men of Cariri seem to prefer the “derived image” – colorized, retouched and manipulated, or, because of that lack of photographic paper, even done in Photoshop. This kind of portrait signifies the ideal representation of the human figure, a kind of crystallization of a precise and precious moment: an aura of eternity given by painting’s supposed supremacy over photography. The painting can be made in many ways, from simple retouching that imitates make-up, to painting over the entire photographic surface. These kinds of portraits become immortal, popular icons in every house in Cariri, next to the religious icons so adored in the north and northeast of Brazil.
The choice of the portrayed men has an ironic aspect too. There is a severe lack of women willing to wed the men of Carrazeda de Ansiães, who are mostly poor small farmers and workmen. The women there seem to be in rebellion against the humble life, and so they leave the village, searching for new, young candidates to become their husbands.
Rosângela Rennó, born in 1962 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil; lives and works in Rio de Janeiro.