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One of Brazil’s legion of fine Modernist artists, the carioca Oswaldo Goeldi (1895-1961) is best known for his woodcut prints, and for the bold, striking lines with which he made them.
A common theme in Goeldi’s prints are fish, strange and divine. Sometimes they’re being hauled from the water, bigger than the men fishing them out. Other times, they’re flying through the air, chasing people. But whether victim or attacker, their eyes always seem to plead for clemency. Curiously, the people in the few portraits he has done share similarly anguished expressions.
But the artist is perhaps best known for his melancholy take on Rio de Janeiro. Goeldi’s Rio is a complex, tormented city in contrast with more familiar images of happy-go-lucky cariocas under the sun. In the words of the show’s curator, his works challenge the clichéd view of Brazil as a tropical paradise.
‘Using the limited resources of woodcut printing,’ writes Paulo Venancio Filho, ‘and of pencil and charcoal drawings, he portrayed a world of unrest and discomfort, played out in the sunlight.’ The exhibition also features a reconstruction of Goeldi’s Leblon atelier.