Union City Commissioner for Public Affairs Lucio Hernandez unveiled the latest set of paintings to be put on display in the city’s art gallery last Friday evening. The gallery, located in City Hall’s entrance hall, usually highlights the work of local artists on a monthly rotation, but the most recent show highlights the work of a set of painters from Brazil who belong to an artist’s collective in New York City.
“The Gallery at City Hall is dedicated to giving local artists a free space to showcase their art as well as to continue the mission of encouraging more art in Union City,” said Fernandez in a press release.
The city issued certificates of commendation to the six artists featured in the show: Gustavo Braga, Alcinda Saphira, Irene Nunes, Rene Nascimento, Marcos Amaro and Antonio Oliveira.
Nascimento, who usually paints urban portraits featuring bicycles, said that it was wonderful to be featured in a show that focused exclusively on Brazilian artists living in the United States.
“There are many great Brazilian artists, but they’re not as famous outside of Brazil as they should be.” - Rene Nascimento
While two of his three paintings featured in the show depicted Manhattan scenes, Nascimento’s favorite was a tribute to Brazilian art and to his heroes and their ideals.
“In the painting there is an inscription in Portuguese that’s a quote from an artist who says, ‘Freedom, my desire, has no name yet.’ It’s a tribute to artistic freedom,” he said.
But the similarities between the artists all but stopped at their shared nationality, as the artwork shone was diverse in style as well as in medium.
Saphira, who typically foregoes the use of brushes in her work, draws inspiration from the art of the pre-Colombian Marajoara tribe, which lived in the Amazon rainforest and used primarily black, white, and red colors in their art and pottery. Instead of brushes, she moves her canvasses in a way that paint spreads naturally across it.
“My art takes shape through movement,” she said.
Her pieces juxtaposed nicely with those of Amaro, who primarily paints geometrically-inspired works.
“Many of my paintings deal in symmetry,” he said. Gesturing towards one piece in particular, he said, “I like to cut a mural in two parts, and paint each part as an opposite of the other.”
The pieces presented by Oliveira were far different from Nascimento’s still lifes, Amaro’s geometrics, and Saphira’s abstracts. His artwork deals primarily with floral patterns, but ones that take on a much deeper meaning than simply horticulture.
“I do these abstract figuratives that are inspired by nature, but they’re meant to go beyond that and depict the energies inside our own bodies,” he said.
“I tend to think of the energy within our bodies as the same energy within the earth,” he said, “so my paintings are meant to evoke human emotion through nature.”
The gallery will be set up in City Hall until Feb. 18, and all are welcome to visit.
Dean DeChiaro may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org