Archives for posts with tag: Santa Teresa Rio

God’s big tent: the cathedral from morro Santa Teresa

Surrounded by hills or morros, the centre of Rio is crammed with buildings old and new. The old testify to its former glory, the new to a resurgence of prosperity and pride. The view from morro Santa Teresa – named for its convent but known until the mid-eighteenth century as morro Desterro, the hill of exile – is panoramic.

Old Cathedral interior, also variously a Royal, an Imperial and a Carmelite Convent chapel

The Old Cathedral on Guanabara Bay is theatrical in its colours, its furnishings and its configuration, something of a pocket opera house for the pageant of royalty. A witness to Brasilian history, it has seen Royal and Imperial weddings, baptisms, funerals and coronations, and the signing of the Imperial Constitution.

Kingdom to Empire, to Republic and beyond, Brasil is still an overwhelmingly Roman Catholic country, so a new cathedral was certain. Protracted negotiations between Church and State secured a new site, and the modern cathedral was built between 1964 and 1976, to a design by architect Edgar Fonceca, and dedicated to Rio’s patron saint. Not to the glory of King or Emperor, but for the city’s people under the slings and arrows of poverty. Its conical form and its use of concrete remind you of Liverpool Cathedral, but its ziggurat steps are distinctively Latin American. Or is it volcanic in its shape and colour?

At the entrance to the Cathedral, cool polished concrete provides an open welcome

Inside, it’s a huge space, seating five thousand, with standing room for more. Its shape gives you a soaring echoing space – filled when we were there with recorded Gregorian chant – and a beautifully quiet and even coolness too, a welcome relief from the traffic clamouring and grinding its way past the flight of steps below the broad apron.

It is an appropriately contemplative space, a welcome luxury in a crowded city, its cool gloom a refuge and its walls a shield against the everyday.

One of four, this southern panel opposite the main entrance depicts the unity of the Church

The four coloured panels – plastic rather than glass – rise to the arms of the clear Greek cross which forms the summit’s rooflight. Visitors and worshippers move quietly about the space, not a boat-shaped nave but circular. A cool breeze plays softly on your arms and face. Calm descends.

St Francis of Assisi admonishing a dove, by Sao Paulo sculptor Umberto Cozzo

When you rise from your pew, or complete your circuit of the Cathedral, you emerge gently into the heat and light of the day, refreshed, more at peace. Whether or not you are a believer, what the sanctuary offered here is effective, leaving you a little stronger, a little calmer, a little more prepared to meet the world and all its works.

http://www.catedral.com.br/

Saturday night in Santa Teresa, Rio de Janeiro. The street market is in full swing, stalls everywhere in the grounds of a local institution (we never did discover what it was), high above the traffic of the street. On sale are handicrafts of all kinds – lace and embroidery, wooden, metal and ceramic ornaments, clothes of all kinds and for all ages, sweet and savoury food, and above the terraced gardens where the stalls are pitched, a rudimentary bar in a large room. And visual artists.

Paintings are regularly on sale in street markets in Brasil, testifying to the strong visual sense of the Brasilian culture. In Praca Republica in Sao Paulo on Sundays, here in Santa Teresa in Rio, in Praca Benedicto Calixto on Saturdays in Sao Paulo, fine artists, amateurs and decorators jostle to attract the eye. We stop at a pitch on the corner of a terrace, occupied by Edson Louzada.

Edson Louzada’s calling card

A genial presence with curly white hair, he appreciates our attention and talks freely about his work. Pop artists – Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Peter Blake – are clearly his artistic forebears. He’s a Paulistano retired from advertising to paint, and to enjoy the Rio lifestyle. Many of his works are homages to the Warhol full-face portrait, executed in the large-scale comic-book style which Lichtenstein popularised. Warhol’s portraits had a tongue-in-cheek element – photo-booth portraits, and large daubs of bright silk-screened colour, to accentuate the ‘famous for fifteen minutes’ style of his clients. In Brasil the celebrity portrait has reverted to iconic status, and Louzada’s work fits the bill. He needs to sell.

Something else attracts my eye. He has used another kind of icon. The statue of Cristo Redentor, “the world’s largest Art Deco statue”, is floating in a field of mixed-media images. Postcards, newspapers, tourist snaps and scraps of musical score draw your attention to and fro, skimming over a comic-book Cristo which both embraces and shrugs at Rio life – the hillside favelas and the richly-stuccoed ceilings of the ancien regime, the coastline lights twinkling against the silhouette of the Sugarloaf, the smooth young limbs of carnaval dancers and the handguns of youth crime (POW! really does mean POW!), yellow Santa Teresa trams and black-and-white pavements,  futebol  and  choro  music.

“Corcovado”, tecnica mista, Edson Louzada, 2012

Fraud, dengue fever, politics, violence and pacification are yesterday’s news aging on fading newsprint. You may take Cristo’s gesture for a fatalistic ‘whatever’ raising of hands except that, in best comic-book tradition, top right a bright yellow aeroplane flys a banner the colours of the Brasil flag proclaiming “Basta de Corrupção!!! “Enough corruption!” Again, an artistic style which has come and gone in the West is reinvigorated in Brasil. Pop art, murals and graffiti, jazz, soap opera – they breathe new life in the Southern hemisphere.

When you ask someone here “How are you?” they reply not with a British “Not too bad” but with a Brasilian “Tudo otimo!” “Everything’s grand!” Given the optimistic energy of Brasil, perhaps they will be able to address the problem of political ethics with new vigour.

P.S. Edson Louzada can be reached at louzadapop@gmail.com. Every Saturday and Sunday evening between 6 and midnight he is at the Avenida Atlântica market on the central reservation – the calçadão – on the beachfront in Copacabana in Rio. He’s at posto de salvamento 5, opposite Rua Sá Ferreira.

Brasil is hip. Time Out London publishes a Sao Paulo edition, Macy’s New York has a Brazilian month, Rock in Rio and now ArtRio are international hits  http://riorealblog.com/2012/09/13/artrio-snowballs-into-a-draw-far-beyond-carioca-dreams-the-second-time-around/ , the Forbes September 10 cover girl for a feature on “The 100 Most Powerful Women” is Brasil’s Presidenta Dilma Rousseff. It is time for Brazil to be discovered. Again.

The Impressionist view of Santa Teresa

We Flew Down to Rio and danced The Carioca in 1933. Peggy Lee sang “Caramba! It’s the Samba” in 1948. We sighed over The Girl From Ipanema in Astrud Gilberto’s accented English in 1963. US New Wave singer David Byrne produced a number of Brazilian music compilations – 1989’s O Samba is very good. It’s no accident that we know Brasil through the music of this most musical of nations.

Teatro Municipal do Rio de Janeiro, opened 1909, restored 2010

In reality, Brasil has always developed independently and prolifically. The Rio de Janeiro of the 1920s and 1930s rivalled Paris and London for sophistication, with broad boulevards, grand architecture, modern art (see Semana de Arte Moderna  http://pt.wikipedia.org/wiki/Semana_de_Arte_Moderna )

Exhibition curated by Mário de Andrade and the Group of Five, image by Emiliano di Cavalcanti

and the disposable income which made it possible, in the time of the ‘café com leite’ political settlement of coffee barons and cattle ranchers.

In the old capital Rio, Time Out tells us that “the more adventurous tourists” make their way up the hill to Santa Teresa. Rio is full of such hills, from the morro do Corcovado (Hunchback Hill) on which Cristo Redentor stretches out his arms, to the lesser-known hills which are home to the favelas – originally meaning villages – where Rio’s poor find a place to live. As in Wales, you move down to the better locations as soon as you can.

The view enjoyed from Cristo Redentor

When you take the 014 bus from Centro up the cobbled hill to the Santa Teresa neighbourhood, the ride is exciting – you feel the tyres scrabble for purchase as they slide across the granite setts. The bright yellow trams which were a distinctive feature of the area are being renovated … or has the service been withdrawn because of a fatal accident in 2011? Probably both, if the usual Brasilian story prevails. Expert at making a virtue of necessity, they are proud of their ability to find a way through (um jeitinho). And are the trams really called bondes because when they were introduced they advertised the attractions of European war bonds?

Prosperous from the foot of the hill

You look down on landmarks such as the tent-like canopy of the Catedral de São Sebastião as you ascend.

Downtown from uptown

Amid the mix of crumbling infrastructure and abundant natural growth, you notice something else.

The call of nature must be obeyed

As well as the usual Brasilian signs of enterprise – a dress-maker displaying her wares in a villa window –

Not just dummies

you see that this has been a prosperous suburb for many decades. The 1910s Art Nouveau villas are examples of their type just as beautiful as in Paris, Brussels, Palma or Montevideo.

Villa, Santa Teresa, Rio de Janeiro

Yes, there are trendy restaurants, and more established places too.

Interior of the excellent Bar do Mineiro, Santa Teresa, Rio de Janeiro

And the smart money is already here – properties are being bought and renovated, no doubt with the World Cup and the Olympic Games firmly in mind. When I took a closer look at the beautifully cast brass of this Art Nouveau door furniture, the jobbing builders came out to enquire what it was I wanted.

Door handle, Santa Teresa, Rio de Janeiro

Even the graffiti seem to have a delicate spiralling beauty, compared with the directness of the work you see in Centro. Poets come and sell their self-published work while you are out at dinner. The Saturday evening street market boasts as many fine art painters as crafts stalls.

Santa Teresa mural art, Rio de Janeiro

Santa Teresa has been a Bohemian artistic retreat for many years, a heritage of which the locals are rightly proud. How comfortably it sits alongside the neighbouring favela I could not be sure on my first visit. Sitting on the terrace of the bed-and-breakfast villa overlooking the pool, watching a troop of monkeys scamper along the roof ridge, swing into the garden trees and on up the street, I could not help but decide on a return visit to the beautiful city of which Santa Teresa offers such an alluring prospect. I’m sure I am simply the latest in a long line of admirers.

View from the terrace of the comfortable Villa Laurinda, Santa Teresa, Rio de Janeiro

A first glance at the public sculpture of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro suggests that the strong Brasilian sense of the visual is as evident here as in graffiti and street art, and indeed in everyday life.  https://theproverbial.org/2012/07/14/a-brasilian-eye/  From the turn of last century, sculpture decorated functional public buildings …

Entrance to Mercado Central, Sao Paulo, with bandeirantes seal above

… as well as the more usual cultural buildings …

Ticket window, Teatro Municipal, Rio

… and public monuments to the great …

Bandeirante pioneer Bartolomeu Bueno da Silva, Parque Trianon, Sao Paulo

… and good …

Chief Scout Lord Baden-Powell, Praca Republica, Sao Paulo

… whether or not the inscription is in Brasilian Portuguese.

Architect of Italian unity, Jardim da Luz, Sao Paulo, República Federativa do Brasil

At times, the public work is quite exotic …

Street lighting near the Arcos, Rio Centro

… while domestic sculptural decoration is sometimes more restrained …

Cast iron, Santa Teresa, Rio

… and at times less so.

Furniture at the Museu da Casa Brasileira, Sao Paulo

A country for which the national symbol is a statue …

Cristo Redentor, Morro Corcovado (‘Hunchback Hill’), Rio – largest Deco sculpture in the world

… can be expected to have a tradition of studying classical sculpture …

Sculpture Gallery, Museu Nacional de Belas Artes, Rio

… certainly as plaster copies.

Copy of Greek warrior, Museu Nacional de Belas Artes, for use in art classes

Not just a public monument, domestic sculpture also turns up regularly in museums and markets.

French bronze, Museu  Nacional de Belas Artes

Religious sculpture, like this Jesus and Joseph, is widely used …

Interior of Carmelite church, an ex-Imperial chapel, Praca Quinze de Novembre, Rio

… both inside and outside …

St Francis, Catedral de Sao Sebastian, Rio

Detail, St Paul, Praca da Se, Sao Paulo

… and on a small scale as well as larger than life-size.

Devotional figures, Last Supper, including Judas, Museu da Casa Brasileira, Sao Paulo

Funerary work is also strong; graveyards are a riot of statuary. More pictures to follow. UPDATE –  see  https://theproverbial.org/2012/11/19/sao-paulo-necropolis/  and  https://theproverbial.org/2013/01/30/return-to-necropolis/

Actors’ gravesite, Necrópole São Paulo

Quasi-religious statuary can also be found …

Sphinx guarding Grand Lodge of Brasil, Rio

… as can more public celebrations of the arts …

Maestro Carlos Gomes outside the Teatro Municipal, Rio

… and of leading figures from other religions and cultures.

Praca Mahatma Gandhi, Rio. The Mahatma is a revered figure in Brasil

After helping the Portuguese to expel the French, Araribóia founded Niteroi in 1573

Civic leaders …

Faria Lima, Sao Paulo mayor from 1965 to 1969, on the road named for him

… and journalists are today’s subjects …

Statue commemorating newspaper journalist, Jardims bairro, Sao Paulo

… along with the occasional abstract art work …

Red Moon, Jardims, Sao Paulo

… but in a city of rectangular apartment blocks and offices, when the cars stop outside the sculpture museum MuBe (Museu Brasileiro da Escultura http://mube.art.br/ , these are the kinetic, highly-coloured sculptural objects they are stopping to photograph and admire.

Lamborghini showroom, Avenida Europa, Sao Paulo

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