Antonio Benetazzo, Survival of the Senses — Part I

Instituto Vladimir Herzog

Artist's biography and his years in training

In the second half of 1972, Benetazzo started to prepare what would be his final artwork. After months away from drawing due to his involvement with the guerrilla movement, the artist decided to resume his creative process and produce a new piece. In the midst of the tensions of armed resistance against the dictatorship, Benetazzo scribbled the outlines of a pestle, drew some plant leaves, and arranged some pieces of material onto a sheet of paper, evoking both Brazil and a woman's mutilated arm. However, the collage, which perhaps signaled his reunion with poetic artistry, would never be completed.

In October of that year, having been captured by the military regime, Benetazzo was killed by the dictatorship's security forces. The collage would always remain unfinished, pervaded by a sense of absence and acquiring, over time, a meaning beyond what the artist had originally intended. Benetazzo's final artwork, cut short by his death, would go on to garner a wider symbolic meaning through its links to the atrocities of the dictatorship. Looking at this work, you feel a sense of unease, caused in part by its unfinished aesthetic but mostly by the life prematurely ended by the violence that marked Brazilian history between 1960 and 1980.

Drawings by the Developing Artist: Bodies, Landscapes, and the Haiku Series
Benetazzo took his first steps as an artist between 1964 and 1967 when he was living in São Paulo and pursuing his studies in architecture and philosophy at the University of São Paulo.

During his early years as a developing artist, his work predominantly turned towards self-portraiture, compositions showing bodies that exude sexuality, and landscapes with evidently rural qualities, all pervaded by a sense of searching.

If, at first, he was drawn towards pictorial techniques reminiscent of Impressionism, he would soon abandon this approach. By doing so, he was not, however, merely seeking to extend his repertoire but also to develop his own unique style between figurative and abstract art.

Despite his political engagement, which would later lead him to the armed struggle against the Brazilian dictatorship, Benetazzo's art was not limited to issues of political activism.

Among the artist's early work, his pieces inspired by pictorial Orientalism stand out.One example is his Haiku series, where he experiments with collages, color variation, and rapid brush strokes. These techniques would reappear later as part of his more mature style.

During this period, Benetazzo's creative process was characterized by a constant inquiry into establishing potential dialogs with the artistic expressions of modernism.

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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