A meaning for Americas’ landscape

Large chimera for Gozzoli and Claude (variation 2), 2012, graphite on paper, 105x155cm.

South America has one of the most extensive and diverse forest ecosystems on the planet, in whose still-preserved regions the most urgent global environmental issues are becoming real. This arc of natural landscapes is the greatest planetary wonder in existence today. The birth, origin myths, and destinies of a rich and complex set of cultures are defined by millennia of human occupation closely linked to this nature.

Since the 1980s, the subject of Brazilian and South American landscape has been a project of the highest importance to me as an artist. Landscape is a subject of extraordinary power: the genre, with important transformations and innovations, has been practiced continuously in the West by notable artists, from International Gothic to contemporary times, for more than eight centuries of universal culture. While I cannot say that I have been profoundly influenced by the Asian landscape traditions, which are even more long-lived, the artists worked with place and memory in a practice just as intriguing and beautiful, and I must acknowledge their achievement.

In Brazil, specifically, landscape is the genre which inaugurates our visual arts: first, with the sketches of the travelers’ mirabilia, then, with traveling artists of the caliber of Post, Taunay and Rugendas. In the times of Romanticism, Realism and Modernism, many other artists appear, among them Victor Meirelles, Pedro Américo, Tarsila do Amaral, and Anita Malfatti, culminating in the modernist presence of the great Alberto da Veiga Guignard.

Inspired and immensely enthused by the presence and significance of the landscape in our lives, the great poet José Lezama Lima stated: “In America, wherever the possibility of landscape arises, there must be the possibility of culture”. The luxurious possibility of nature is the starting point for the creation of culture.

The extended history of landscape representation allows us to correlate different times, affective memory, and a multiplicity of spaces and cultures, all of which contribute to the appearance of new constructions. In my work, nature commands these connections: direct observation, surprise, and lived psychogeographical experience concretely suggest my conception of these harmonic syntheses, and the possibility of an art fully attentive to the sublime, the beauty, and the interrelation of many traditions.

Francisco Faria