Antonio Benetazzo, Survival of the Senses — Part III

Instituto Vladimir Herzog

At the Height of the Dictatorship: Poetry, Criticism, and the Political Underground

At the Height of the Dictatorship: Poetry, Pleasure, and Criticism
Set against the backdrop of a hardening dictatorship, Benetazzo's work between 1968 and 1969 was not limited to portraying the malaise associated with the repression.

During these 2 years, while he did create a few series based on the deformities of the time, he also chose to produce drawings in which the grotesque gave way to a formal beauty associated with warm colors, quotes from poetry, and carnal passions.

In December 1968, the month in which the Fifth Institutional Act (AI-5) was introduced, Benetazzo created 3 pieces that focused predominantly on affection, exotic desires, and a celebration of existence.

In his drawings "Tabac" (Tobacco), "Que prazer ter..." (What a Pleasure to Have…), and "La mañana llegó…" (The Morning Arrived…), the vitality of being alive emerges from the transcriptions of poetry and the visual charm created by vibrant, multi-colored pen strokes.

This placidity and beauty were the striking features of Benetazzo's style during this period and they would forcefully reappear in the abstracts in colored pencil that he drew in 1969.

His drawings, "Hommage a mes élèves du ladê" (Homage to My Ladê Pupils), "Gallia est omnia...," "K@² (I)," and "Roux," are pervaded by a gentle and sublime tone.

In June 1969, on the eve of his departure for guerrilla training in Cuba, Benetazzo still managed to create pieces for his "Perspectivas" (Perspectives) series, entitled "Parati, Parati, Parati" (Adorned, Adorned, Adorned) and "Feira de ilusões" (Fair of illusions).

In this collage, the artist hijacks fictitious advertisements to give them new, loud meanings, creating an aggressive visuality which is probably indicative of his critical stance on the world of consumption.

Drawings While Underground
In 1971, while underground, Benetazzo created his last set of artworks. This series contained 11 drawings dealing with the issues behind his decision to take up armed resistance.

During this period, while he put his work as an artist to one side to fully commit to his political activities against the dictatorship, Benetazzo produced 3 self-portraits, showing his own body disguised as a guerrilla.

At the time, having taken on the name Paulo, which enabled him to forge another "I" as a way of hiding his own identity from the dictatorship, his self-portrait showed him with a much-altered appearance and sporting a mustache, receding hair, and glasses.

At the time, having taken on the name Paulo, which enabled him to forge another "I" as a way of hiding his own identity from the dictatorship, his self-portrait showed him with a much-altered appearance and sporting a mustache, receding hair, and glasses.

Without stooping to ideological propaganda, some pieces reflect the enthusiasm of someone who had trained as a guerrilla in Cuba (1970–71) and returned to Brazil expecting to overthrow the dictatorship.

The feeling of potency, associated with the desire for change, is strongly present in pieces like "O futuro já chegou" (The Future Has Already Arrived) and "Queda" (Downfall).

Some of the pieces, however, also show the anxieties of living so close to the threat of violence or death.

In "BR 71," which shows a guerrilla apparently leaving his family behind, a sense of uneasiness hangs over the enthusiasm, hinting at the dilemmas involved in choosing to engage in radical resistance.

"Entre Imagens (Intervalos)" (Between Images (Intervals)) is a documentary about the life and works of Antonio Benetazzo, who was killed by Brazil's military dictatorship in 1972. Directed by Andre Fratti Costa and Reinaldo Cardenuto, the documentary has been shown at major film festivals, such as the 19th Tiradentes Film Festival, Festival Brésil en Mouvement (France), and the 7th Pachamama Cinema de Fronteira Film Festival, where it won an award in the Best Short Film category.

Credits: Story

"Antonio Benetazzo, permanências do sensível" (Antonio Benetazzo, survival of the senses) Exhibition

Presented by
São Paulo City Hall—Municipal Department for Human Rights and Citizenship
Department Head | Eloisa Arruda
Deputy Head | Yara Cunha Costa
Chief of Staff | Eduardo Barbin Barbosa
Coordinator for the Right to Memory and Truth | Rogério Wagner da Silva Leite e Marina Molina

Vladimir Herzog Institute
Executive director | Rogério Sottili
Special Project Coordinator | Carla Borges
Communications | Carolina Vilaverde

Curation, organization, research and text
Reinaldo Cardenuto

Carolina Vilaverde

"Entre Imagens (Intervalos)" (Between Images (Intervals)) documentary
Andre Fratti Costa e Reinaldo Cardenuto

Special acknowledgements
Alipio Freire, Celso Nucci, Cida Horta, Daniel Fresnot, Eliana Ferreira de Assis, Ermínia Maricatto, Itália Benetazzo, Nordana Benetazzo, Luiz Carlos Poloni, Zuleika Alvim.

Ana Corbisier, André Luiz Rafaini Lopes, Anivaldo Padilha, Anna Ferrari, Ariana Iara de Paula, Arquivo Público do Município de Caraguatatuba, Carlos Augusto Calil, Celso Sim, Centro Cultural da Juventude, Centro Cultural São Paulo, Centro de Formação Cultural Cidade Tiradentes, Clara Rossi Ferreira, Claudio Tozzi, Comissão da Memória e Verdade da Prefeitura de São Paulo, Comissão de Familiares de Mortos e Desaparecidos Políticos, Comitê Paulista pela Memória, Verdade e Justiça, Eduardo Oikawa, Equipe SMDHC, Equipe SMC, Eugênia Gonzaga, Eva Soban, Francisco Ramalho Jr., Grupo de Trabalho pelo Direito à Memória e à Verdade (GT-DMV), Imprensa Oficial do Estado S/A - IMESP, Ivan Seixas, Ivany Turíbio, Ivo Herzog, José Luiz Del Roio, Luiz Fernando Manini, Marcelo Godoy, Maria Aparecida Horta, Maria Eunice Paschoal Homem de Melo, Maria Rita Kehl, Mariana Rosell, Mario Prata, Nabil Bonduki, Paulo de Tarso Venceslau, Paulo Schlick, Paulo Reis, Renato Martinelli, Ricardo Ohtake, Ricardo Scardoelli, Roaldo Fachini, Rogério Sottili, Rose Mary Teles Souza, Samuel Ribeiro Jr., Sérgio Ferro, Sérgio Muniz, Suzana Lisboa, Thiago Carrapatoso, Toshio Kawamura, Valdirene Gomes, Valéria Barbosa Paganelli.

Original exhibition designed and presented by
São Paulo City Hall—Mayor 2013–2016 - Fernando Haddad
Municipal Department for Human Rights and Citizenship
Department Head | Rogério Sottili e Eduardo Matarazzo Suplicy
Coordinator for the Right to Memory and Truth
Carla Borges, Clara Castellano, Dyego Oliveira, Marília (Marie) Goulart, Fábio Luis Franco, Gabriela Monico, Naomi Xavier, Marina Molina, Tomaz Seincman, Victhor Fabiano.

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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