Did you know that Brazilian painting has a French-inspired history? Picture the surreal mixture of 19th century European painting style with the tropics and subjects of Brazil…
Jean Baptiste Debret, Caçador Escravos, oil on canvas, c.1820, Sao Paulo Museum of Art, Brazil.
In 1808, when the Portuguese Emperor Dom João Vi transferred the court from Lisbon to Rio de Janeiro, fleeing the Napoleonic invasion of the Iberian Peninsula, he took with him a group of French artists to organize an art academy in Rio de Janeiro. Taking inspiration from the French Academy they set up The French Artistic Mission, forerunner of the Brazilian Academy of Fine Arts in Rio de Janeiro, with artists such as Lebreton, Debret, Taunay, Grandjean De Montigny.
These artists depicted Brasilian flora and fauna and the life of the monarchs in their new world. Our chaotic and tropical lushness took on the French neoclassical framework. Indians, religious icons, tropical orchids and bromelias and the slave trade mixed with noble parties at the paço imperial.
Fast forward to 2016 and the rendering of this Brazil continues.
Looking through Julia Debasse’s naif brushstrokes and pyrography you will find the same flora and fauna existing in a scenario common to any Brazilian. A hostile environment where human nature is shown at its most vulnerable, aspects and scenes of violence, social disorder and insecurity are in constant composition with the exuberance of their multi- cultural and tropical landscapes. As the artist herself says: sometimes an animal may kill, but it is not violent. But even if animals are constant elements in Debasse’s composition, it’s also the human presence (buildings, roads, machines, etc) that reveals some of the artist’s critical narratives and perceptions of her daily life between these absurdities.
Images courtesy of the artist
Top: Julia Debasse Pontos de Referência, 2016
Center left: Julia Debasse Intestino,75x45cm, 2016
Center right: Julia Debasse PPK, 155 x 199cm, 2016
Bottom:Julia Debasse Pulmão, 56x76cm, 2016
Daniel Lannes, on the other hand, mixes a classical fine art technique with pop culture. Fame, lust and consumerism are plastered on oil and canvas. The big Brazilian arse that had been swaying in low budget slum rap clips, now finds its place in a noble oil portrait. Divas from a forgotten period, graciously make a come back. Over sized selfies in front of the old masters from the french delegation mentioned before, come to life, and resonate with what Brazil was and still remains today.
Using their paintings as one new form, Julia and Daniel bring together notions of both high and lowbrow culture – which intertwine as if they are one.