Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Gute Brandao: Magical and Musical Revelations

When selecting pieces for Still Point Art Gallery's current exhibition, Rhythmic Sensation-Visual Sensation, I came across the images submitted by Gute Brandao and I stopped in my tracks. I could not leave these images...these incredible drawings...ink and watercolor on paper. Soft, pale colors on a pale background...ink-drawn lines and curves and stars...unusual figures that seem to bounce, dance, hang, and march. Figures that dance, lines that act like moving walkways, things that revolve and spin...  Suddenly I'm reminded of a vast array of automaton...toys that move! Wind-up toys that walk or dance or march or spin! Dozens of wind-up toys that are perfectly and beautifully orchestrated to create a stunning masterpiece of musical and theatrical bliss.

The Electric Churchland   [Enlarge    
Acola a gente do sonho pariu o espaco   [Enlarge  
The New Revelations of Being   [Enlarge]
For the work shown here, Gute Brandao was named an Artist of Distinction and will be a Gallery Artist beginning in February 2011. He will then have the opportunity to show more of his wonderful work. Gute Brandao is an amazing artist -- self-taught and without categorization. If anything, Brandao likes to describe his art as musical. He translates the sounds he hears into lines, forms, and colors. A kind of frustrated musician, he constantly listens to music, and it seems that it moves through him onto his canvas or paper. Brandao's art may also be described as complex. There are many things going on, and you can't grasp it all by one quick look. Brandao admits to being obsessed with pattern and repetition. Even the artist himself discovers something new when he goes back to look at his own work. There is always a new revelation waiting to be found. 

There is also a childlike innocence to Brandao's art. Interestingly, Brandao had difficulties with art as a child. His schoolmates in Brazil made fun of him in art class because he would always mess up his colors. Brandao is color blind...an interesting affliction for an artist. His mother helped him by writing the names of the colors on little labels of paper and taping them to his pencils. Now, Brandao doesn't worry about his color blindness. He uses colors randomly and in whatever way works for him. "Now I think I am reaching back to those early days for a pure and honest attitude when confronting the complexities of life." A friend said of Brandao's work: "[He is] seeking a return to the wholesome sincerity and spontaneity found in children's art. . . . seeking a . . . haven from the bewildering and often hypocritical cultural conventions of the modern world." When Brandao speaks of his art, he talks about mental objects that come to him in visions or his imagination. These objects need to be organized through pattern and repetition, form and color. This is how his paintings and drawings are created. It's amusement for him. It's magic for his viewers. The magic of beautiful wind-up toys moving together in harmony.  

Works by Gute Brandao
The Electric Churchland was drawn by Gute Brandao while he was in Brazil, visiting a little colonial mining town called Ouro Preto (Black Gold). The town is known for its beautiful baroque architecture and is protected by the UNESCO Organization as a World Heritage Site. The churches in the town are fabulous, known both for their architecture and for the statues made of soapstone and wood by Master Aleijadinho, a sculptor who had leprosy and so tied his chisel to his rotten fingers in order to work on hard surfaces. The town is a magical place, especially at night. The town's many churches have a custom of tolling all the bells at once to announce death, birth, marriage, and other important moments. Brandao loved the feeling and sensations of walking in this town. The Electric Churchland celebrates Ouro Preto with many symbols...cosmic rain, mandalas, spaceships, and more.

Acola a gente do sonho pariu o espaco is difficult to translate into English, but it means something like: the people of the dream gave birth to the space. It belongs to a series called The Psychonauts of Inner Space. 

The New Revelations of Being was inspired by teepees as well as by a text by Antonin Artaud, a French writer of the early twentieth century. Brandao put together the idea of displacement and the lives of the native Americans with the text Artaud wrote about the Tarahumara people of northern Mexico. For each layer of teepees in Brandao's drawing, there is a figure worshiping nature, the sun, and the spirits.


Gute Brandao is a self-taught artist and weaver who was born in the city of Belo-Horizonte, the capital of and largest city in the state of Minas Gerais in the southeastern region of Brazil. His creativity was manifest at a young age with his early works in wood, metal, and fiber, and he received awards for his fiber work in Brazil at a young age. Brandao came to the United States in 1988, settled in Washington, D.C., and started doing drawing and painting. Since then he has shown his work regularly in the broad Washington, D.C. area in both solo and group shows. He also regularly shows his work in New York City, Chicago, Paris, and Brazil. Brandao's art, like that of a child, bursts forth with refreshing brilliance and energy. Also like the work of a child, Brandao's work lacks the sour taste often found in protest or political art. Brandao takes viewers by the hand, so to speak, and pulls them through a world of uplifting, raw art, keeping them from falling into the chaotic darkness found in the depths below. 

The Electric Churchland, ink and watercolor on paper, 17" by 14", not framed, $600
Acola a gente do sonho pariu o espaco, ink and watercolor on paper, 14" by 17", not framed, $400
The New Revelations of Being, ink and watercolor on paper, 17" by 14", not framed, $400

Still Point Art Gallery
December 21, 2010 


  1. Awesome work!!
    Joren Lindholm

  2. Thanks Joyce and Joren for the comments

  3. I want to be color blind! this is great use of it. Love his art!