The Galeria Estação art gallery starts the year with an exhibition of the artist Mirian Inês da Silva (1939-1996), who hails from the state of Goiás. Under the curatorship of teacher Miguel Chaia, the exhibition takes up the second and third floors of the art gallery and has a collection of over 70 works, including painting and wood cuttings by this artist who became well known through her engravings showing significant inventiveness and expression.
Mirian studied at the Goiás School of Plastic Art and moved to Rio de Janeiro in the 1960s, moving away from a popular culture of the Brazilian countryside, permeated by religious festivals and oral myths, and moving into a metropolitan society where mass culture is king. A result of this cultural diversity, the work of this artist is centred on common issues related to the visual depiction of daily life, contrasting the two scenarios. Mirian admits this theme in an interview granted to the O Popular newspaper, from Goiânia, in 1983: “For me, painting is my life. I paint what I love and what I feel in my heart. For me, the people of Brazil are a very important attraction. I really like to listen to anecdotes, popular music and, most important, being with people, regardless of the social scale.”
Miguel Chaia stresses that the work of the artist is a portrait of the “aspects of sociability in the rural environment and also in the city, popular culture, mass culture, and religious and mythical representations. It focuses on what is lively, festive, pulsating and commonplace. In Mirian’s work, one can see a concern with a certain degree of Brazilianness, sought in nature and also in culture. In her paintings, these two aspects are represented by vegetation, by the sea, circus, parties and children’s play activities.”
In the same way that she passes from popular to mass culture, we also see the change in the nocturne environment created in her pictures for the solar climate of paintings. At the start of her career, a result of strong expressionist influence, the use of light in her work generates a feeling of conflict when she portrays daytime scenes with a nocturne expression, like the works of Oswaldo Goeldi. In painting, Mirian recovers sunlight, and on a white background there is common presence of an orange-hued sun.
Finally, the curator highlights another source of permanent tension in Mirian’s work: the coexistence between an abstract and a geometric order and a figurative order. “All Mirian’s paintings have a geometric structure along the edges of the painting (lower, upper and sides) and an ample white space which is available for the narrative to unfold in the centre of the picture. Thus, the paintings consist of two pictorial orders, two visual territories, meeting side by side, the geometric abstraction of the edges and the white space for figurative creation. In this regard, Mirian is more than just a figurative artist, it being convenient to stress her sensitive geometric work, close to concrete art.”
In the opinion of Miguel Chaia, the work of this artist brings us a Brechtian paradox: “she does not want to mislead us with her paintings, which are allegories, and do not plan to be either realist or naturalist. Based on the conflict between the abstract geometric order and the figurative order, Mirian’s work can be understood as an intermediate dimension in which to think of art and life. Her paintings allow the problematisation of language in art and, at the same time, the act of passing the viewpoint of someone who observes the life of the Brazilian people and of Brazilian society in general.
Mirian Inês da Silva de Cerqueira (Trindade – GO, 1939 – Rio de Janeiro – RJ, 1996) studied at the School of Fine Arts of Goiás, and moved to Rio de Janeiro in the 1960s. In Rio, the artist attended courses given by Ivan Serpa at the Museum of Modern Art. In the 1960s and 1970s, she had individual exhibitions on show at many art galleries in Rio de Janeiro, and participated in many event such as the International Biennial Exhibition of São Paulo (in 1963 and 1965); the National Exhibition of Modern Art (Rio de Janeiro, 1966); of the 1st and 2nd Exhibition of Young National Engravings at the Museum of Contemporary Art of the University of São Paulo (MAC-USP); the Engraving Biennial of Santiago (Chile, 1969), and art exhibitions Peintres de L'Imaginaire (Paris, France, 1976) and Primitive Paintings of Brazil (Museo de Arte Carrillo Gil, Mexico, 1980).