Oscar Araripe in Paris / by Sergio Rouanet
Regarding Oscar Araripe’s exhibition, holding the simple title ‘Flowers’, recently displayed at the gallery Manuel Bandeira, in the Brazilian Academy of Letters, and now with new paintings shown at the prestigious Teodora Galerie, in Paris, wrote the curator and critic Alexei Bueno: “the flowers in his paintings are like butterflies, their petals are wings, and we do not know whether the flowers are butterflies landing on a stalk or the butterflies are flowers which started flying”.
|Oscar Araripe / Flore exhibition in Paris / Invitation
When I first read this beautiful extract, I remembered of a narrative by Borges whose topic was that of a Chinese philosopher Chuang Tzu that dreamt about being a butterfly and did not know, when he woke up, if he was a man who had dreamt about being a butterfly or a butterfly that now dreamt about being a man. Oscar Araripe does not have doubts of this kind. He does not need to dream in order to feel like a butterfly. With his eyes wide open he claims his universal kindness towards all living beings. Kindness reinforced, curiously, by the reading of neo-evolutionist writers, whose master Darwin, was the first scientist to prove the biblical narrative of a common affiliation of all existent beings – men, flowers and butterflies.
However, it is not via dreams that Araripe mingles the various personalities which co-exist in his inner self, but by means of a playful knowledge, acquired by the intimacy with authors accustomed to exploring complex psychologies.
Among these various personalities, there is one of a journalist, since he was an editorial, feature article writer and reporter, having worked for important Brazilian newspapers. He did literature. He published a literary trilogy: Maria, Martha and Me and in the essay field he made a lot of success with the book about China, country which he visited being invited by the Beijing government.
Yet among the various people of this multiple person lies one who ended up becoming domineering, that of a painter (and not a plastic artist, expression that he doubtless abhors). He has decided, since very young at heart, to become a painter, talent that he discovered while collecting cards that boys used to glue on their albums trying to gain desirable prizes. One day, unwrapping a sweet, a ‘difficult card’ popped up in front of him, Three Graces by Rafael, in all its splendour of the radiant nakedness. Roughly speaking, it was not the greatest aesthetic emotion of his life. Bigger than that was The Ascension by Tintoretto.
As far as I’m concerned, Oscar never had a formal artistic education. For him, the essential of his learning happened during his childhood in the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, flying kites and playing with a ball. What exists – that’s how he summarised his artistic belief – is art, and art creates life, and life creates the colours. Only Oscar himself can assure whether he managed or not to become ‘the best painter in his street’, but any neutral observer will say that he became one of the best painter from Brazil, and one of the most creative.
Currently, Araripe has been focusing on flowers, as we could see. And he himself states: “Summary: do a bit of everything, try everything a bit, and after that paint only flowers”. In fact, he has been painting so many flowers that it is possible to affirm about him what was affirmed about Madeleine Lemaire, remarkable French painter, friend of Proust’s: after God, nobody has produced so many flowers.
Oscar Araripe is everything aforementioned, besides being Cidinha’s husband, and also the father of enchanting children, in addition to a great friend and the interlocutor with whom it is nice to agree, and sometimes necessary to disagree with. Oh, I was about to forget. This man in possession of so many identities, is proud of having one more, that of the descendent of José de Alencar and of the relative to Araripe Jr., about whom held a magnificent conference in the Brazilian Academy of Letters. One can get dazzled at the fact that this so multiple a man has become one of the principal centres of cultural irradiation in Tiradentes – in painting, yet also in music and in literature?
Sergio Paulo Rouanet
Philosopher, essay writer, diplomat. Ex-Culture Minister of Brazil.
Member of the Brazilian Academy of Letters