Poet Portinari

Besides the paints, the artist also adventured with words

By Projeto Portinari

Landscape of Brodowski (1937) by Candido PortinariProjeto Portinari

In 1964, publisher Livraria José Olympio Edutora launched Poemas de Portinari [Poems by Portinari]. In the preface, Manuel Bandeira wrote:

"The subjects of poet-Portinari are the same as those of painter-Portinari: the “village” (Brodowski), “sandy place in the middle of the rich coffee red soil. Immense blue sky surrounding the sand. Thousands of white clouds traveling;”...

Festival in Brodowski (1933) by Candido PortinariProjeto Portinari

... life at the village: 'the festivals, the balls, the processions, and the bells tolling;'...

Soccer (1958) by Candido PortinariProjeto Portinari

... the soccer played by boys at the Matriz square or by the cemetery walls;...

Brodowski Square (1958) by Candido PortinariProjeto Portinari

... once in a while, a circus 'with its carbine lighting'...

Night in Brodowski (1955) by Candido PortinariProjeto Portinari

... There was joy. But there was also fear. 'The woods told tales.' There were 'apparitions': 'The black gate housed hauntings.' Lots of funerals were held: 'Silent, dark men who came from faraway plantations, carrying the black coffin, tired from the long walk.'...

Scarecrow in Rice Field (1947) by Candido PortinariProjeto Portinari

... The scarecrows 'fighting for rice to grow.'...

Pregnant Migrant Woman (1945) by Candido PortinariProjeto Portinari

... The lepers: 'Torn down and faceless;' 'appalling creatures, carrying leper.' The dispossessed: 'Men with a huge round belly, women with bundles falling to the side;' 'cataract eyes and misshapen feet.'...

Bride and Groom (1940) by Candido PortinariProjeto Portinari

...even if Portinari hadn’t been the great painter that he was, all this poetry would be valid for what it portrays of a sharp, generous sensibility, for its faithful portrait of Brazilian life in the countryside. This is why it is of a double interest and importance for us: with an intrinsic value, if explains very thoroughly the painter’s work, the pathetic work of a man who has lived all his life, since he was a boy, ‘between dream and fear.’”

Manuel Bandeira

Scarecrow (1947) by Candido PortinariProjeto Portinari

Self-Portrait (1939) by Candido PortinariProjeto Portinari

“Everyone who loved Cândido Portinari’s paintings will look for the artist’s subjects in his verses. But, as much as possible, avoid it. To comply with the author’s wishes, read his verses without thinking of anything else. And you will see that, though the poet is smaller than the painter, Portinari’s genius was such that it did not fit into just one art.”

Antonio Callado

Scarecrow (1936) by Candido PortinariProjeto Portinari

Portinari's Poems

Verses from the book Poemas de Portinari, published by Livraria José Olympio Editora, 1964.

Wedding in the Country (1940) by Candido PortinariProjeto Portinari

The festivals, the balls, the music band
Processions and the bell tolling…
A lot of people in Sunday dress

Wedding in the Country (1944) by Candido PortinariProjeto Portinari

Moonlit nights and all the stars
Were brighter than in other villages past.

Scene from Coffee Plantation (1957) by Candido PortinariProjeto Portinari

I left the sea waters
And was born from the coffee plantation of
Red earth. I spent my childhood. In my sandy town.

Seven Horses (1960) by Candido PortinariProjeto Portinari

I rode my bike and
Horses bare. I had scares
And dreams. I traveled through space.
I went to the moon before Sputnik.
I walked further, way further, beyond
Heaven. I dove in a parachute, I crossed the rainbow, I got
To the waterhole before sunrise.

Boy with Trap (1933) by Candido PortinariProjeto Portinari

I was born in a coffee plant.
The train passed
Through the plantation.

White Horse (1955) by Candido PortinariProjeto Portinari

Running, always running, and having eyes
To see as I wished: seeing the blue road fly in space Like the breeze and shoot up
On a white horse, not caring Where to.

Lovers (1940) by Candido PortinariProjeto Portinari

It is a fateless joy
Or a dead star. The sound of music at the ball floating through space Or in the whispers of valentines.

Marias (1936) by Candido PortinariProjeto Portinari

In the station platform
We waited for the train to arrive It might be the coming of anything
For us: a volume of joys. How
Immense the small village was!

The Tree of Life (1957) by Candido PortinariProjeto Portinari

Old mango trees from my childhood… They were the babysitters
For poor boys like me. They blossomed and
No one threw rocks.
From the flowers, little hearts of A clear green were born.

Jacob's Dream (1957) by Candido PortinariProjeto Portinari

Events passed;
Only dreams don’t pass. So
Real no one could tell them apart From things that really happened.

Brodowski Square (1956) by Candido PortinariProjeto Portinari

I borrowed these wings from the angel. I flew over
my village. I watered the plantations with my tears
I thought of happiness lost.
There is nothing there anymore
Everything that made me suffer and made me happy
Is gone.

Migrants (1959) by Candido PortinariProjeto Portinari

The dispossessed come with bundles and rags. They come from dry, dark lands;
Painful boulders like sparks of lit charcoal.

Scarecrow (1959) by Candido PortinariProjeto Portinari

I came from the red land and the coffee plantation.
The lost souls, the bogs, and the untouched woods Follow me like the scarecrow
That is my self-portrait.
All fragile, poor things
Look like me.

Portinari

Credits: Story

Executive Director: João Candido Portinari
Curatorship and Research: Maria Duarte
Texts: Projeto Portinari*
Copyright Projeto Portinari

*Quotes from poems that sew this narrative together were originally published in Poemas de Portinari, edited in 1964 by Livraria José Olympio Editora. Texts by Antonio Callado and Manuel Bandeira are also published in the first edition.

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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