Owner of a boarding house in the Santa Teresa neighborhood, she hosted artists such as Emeric Macier, who taught her the art of "a cozinha da pintura” (the paint kitchen), where artists created their own materials, and she did small jobs as a seamstress to improve her financial position. Perhaps it was one of her customers who, having come across a dressmaking workshop with drawings and sketches affixed to the walls, would have drawn Djanira's attention to her artistic talent.
constructed in a strong and lively spiral, with a childish and dream-like quality, testifying to the influence of artists like Pieter Bruguel. It was in the 1940s that, at the invitation of the artist Milton Dacosta, Djanira moved to New York. Even though she was alone and unable to speak English, the artist did not lose heart. She contacted the director of the New School who, enchanted by her works, introduced her to the New York art scene where she met artists such as Segall and Chagall.
While the secular world appears more impoverished, saints appear in rich detail, especially in their clothing, referring back to the details of the "Dressmaker." The project, developed by artist Oratorio Djanira, is composed of 10 engravings, inspired by the illuminated manuscripts of the Middle Ages and accompanied by the poems of Odylio Costa Filho. They were handcrafted and completed with the left hand, since her right had undergone two surgical operations and needed to be rested.
This beautiful set of engravings, representing patron saints and devotional images, is steeped in baroque detail and complex patterns of motifs such as native and calico designs. From the religious to the syncretic—the Studies for Oratorio Djanira were flanked by two other saints in the exhibition. On one side, Saint Sebastian, and the other Saints Cosmas and Damian, both also worshiped in African religions.
The union between daily life and religious and mythical experience, and the synergy between artistic and poetic work have made Djanira much more than a naive and/or primitive artist, but a storyteller who presents the image of Brazil and its nationality without being boastfully nationalist. Her "snapshots" synthesize the stylistic preoccupation of Brazilian modern art through the purism of the use of color and the stripping back of forms. Man, as a fundamental image for the composition of her works, balancing between faith and work, and troubles and repose, is transformed into a hero. A man coming out of his own earth. For the art critic Mario Pedrosa, Djanira "was the earth itself." And this earth, as the mother earth, is the one that gives and takes life, but above all, it is the earth that brings men to dreams and acts of heroism.
Djanira: Cronista de ritos, pintora de costumes
Centro Cultural dos Correios - Niterói/RJ
17 de novembro de 2014 a 21 de março de 2015
Museu dos Correios – Brasília/DF
21 de julho a 18 setembro de 2016
Centro Cultural dos Correios- São Paulo/SP
De 13 de dezembro de 2016 a 05 de fevereiro de 2017