The Fantasy of Color

Where the sacred meets the profane.

By Fundação Athos Bulcão

Carnivals

Sem título by Athos Bulcão/ Acervo particularFundação Athos Bulcão

Profane beginnings

Carnivals featured at the beginning and end of Bulcão's long painting career. From the 1940s to the early 1960s, his paintings depict a strange procession of almost-schematic figures, always shown standing in a line ...

Paintings Untitled by Athos BulcãoFundação Athos Bulcão

… with their costumes hinting much more at Venetian carnivals of yore than the Rio festivities of the early 20th century.

Untitled (1967) by Athos Bulcão/ Acervo Tribunal de Justiça do Distrito FederalFundação Athos Bulcão

The colors

His palette is truly unique, with browns and raw and burnt earth colors alongside that lapis lazuli blue, colors which are not normally associated with the tropical festivals of our imaginations.

Sem título (1948) by Athos BulcãoFundação Athos Bulcão

Space Without Time (Espaço sem Tempo)

Masked figures, with strange features, whose silent gestures are simultaneously magical and dramatic, belong to a space without time, a space which they shape".

Ítalo Campofiorito  

Untitled (1962) by Athos Bulcão/ Acervo Tribunal de Justiça do Distrito FederalFundação Athos Bulcão

European influences

The figures may have been inspired by the composition in a Giotto, for example. At the same time, the absence of any background to anchor the group hints at certain experiments in Italian metaphysical painting while also being, in some instances, reminiscent of a dreamlike painting by Chagall.

Untitled (sem data) by Athos BulcãoFundação Athos Bulcão

Untitled (1982) by Athos BulcãoFundação Athos Bulcão

Carnival drawings

Untitled (2000) by Athos Bulcão/ Acervo particularFundação Athos Bulcão

Influences on color

I have been influenced by painters that I like a lot, like Paul Klee, Matisse, influences on my colors. But my influences are very broad. My latest drawings have also been influenced by Carnival".
 
Athos Bulcão

Sem título (1998) by Athos Bulcão/ Acervo particularFundação Athos Bulcão

Drawings Untitled (2001) by Athos BulcãoFundação Athos Bulcão

Untitled (2001) by Athos Bulcão/ Acervo particularFundação Athos Bulcão

Untitled (1999) by Athos Bulcão/ Acervo particularFundação Athos Bulcão

The Life of Our Lady (A Vida de Nossa Senhora)

The Visitation (1970) by Athos Bulcão/ Acervo da Catedral de BrasíliaFundação Athos Bulcão

Colors of the Sacred

What is really strange to note is that a visit to Brasilia's cathedral and his 1960s series of 10 paintings on marble called The Life of Our Lady (A Vida de Nossa Senhora) show the same composition and use of color as his carnival paintings.

Annunciation by Archangel Gabriel to the Blessed Virgin Mary (1970) by Athos Bulcão/ Acervo da Catedral de BrasíliaFundação Athos Bulcão

Nativity of Jesus in Bethlehem and adoration of the three Kings (1970) by Athos Bulcão/ Acervo da Catedral de BrasíliaFundação Athos Bulcão

The Blessed Virgin's Glories and Sorrows (Glórias e Dores de Maria)

This series of works is divided into 10 small paintings. They depict New Testament stories about the lives of the Virgin Mary and Jesus Christ and are arranged chronologically.

The Flight into Egypt (1970) by Athos Bulcão/ Acervo da Catedral de BrasíliaFundação Athos Bulcão

Religious purpose

The Virgin is the central figure in these scenes since these paintings were made for Brasilia's Cathedral, which is dedicated to Our Lady Aparecida, the patroness of Brasilia and Brazil.

Presentation of Jesus at the Temple and his purification (1970) by Athos Bulcão/ Acervo da Catedral de BrasíliaFundação Athos Bulcão

Jesus in discussion with the doctors of the Law (1970) by Athos Bulcão/ Acervo da Catedral de BrasíliaFundação Athos Bulcão

In the Wedding at Cana, in Galilee (1970) by Athos Bulcão/ Acervo da Catedral de BrasíliaFundação Athos Bulcão

Mary depicted under the cross during the Crucifixion of Christ, aka Stabat Mater (1970) by Athos Bulcão/ Acervo da Catedral de BrasíliaFundação Athos Bulcão

Jesus, descended from the Cross, is given to Mary (1970) by Athos Bulcão/ Acervo da Catedral de BrasíliaFundação Athos Bulcão

The descent of the Holy Spirit upon Mary and the Apostles, or the Pentecost (1970) by Athos Bulcão/ Acervo da Catedral de BrasíliaFundação Athos Bulcão

Credits: Story

Fundação Athos Bulcão
Selection of excerpts and images: Vitor Borysow

Quotes by Athos Bulcão: 
Silence Dweller (Habitante do Silêncio). Interview given to Carmen Moretzsohn for the Jornal de Brasília, July 2, 1998. In: Athos Bulcão. ed. 2. Editora Fundação Athos Bulcão. Brasília. 2009 

Texts taken from: 
PANITZ, Marília. The Imagination of Athos Bulcão. Catalog of the Exhibition ‘100 Years of Athos Bulcão’. Bank of Brazil Cultural Center, 2018-2019. 

Texts by other authors taken from: 
Athos Bulcão. ed. 2. Editora Fundação Athos Bulcão. Brasília. 2009


Image selection: based on the curation by Marília Panitz and André Severo for the 100 Years of Athos Bulcão exhibition, held at the Banco do Brasil Cultural Center (2018–2019)
    

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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