Saint John’s Feast Day (1936) by Candido PortinariMALBA – Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires
Festa de São João stands out in Candido Portinari’s extensive production.
It exemplifies the artist’s more lyrical and idealist facet, as opposed to the activist rhetoric and political commitment characteristic of his murals.
In this more spontaneous, sentimental, and affective work, Portinari ventures a poetic connection to the people, to their stories and imaginaries.
The work’s classic and theatrical structure is composed by the vertical lines of the flagpoles and palm trees, amidst which mostly women and children work and play, and by the hills and mountains in the background.
This work partakes of the “return to order,” a reaction against avant-garde formal experimentation that, between the two world wars, proposed the restoration of classical languages.
Dazzled, Portinari turns his generous vision to folk celebrations, children’s games and amusements, trades and crafts, and the relationships and tasks that fill community life with meaning.
The scene appears somehow lost in time and steeped in melancholy, as if even in this common space the characters were isolated or not entirely there.