Faces in the Shadows – U.S. premiere new paintings by Antonio Veronese
Category: Visual Arts
When: Thursday, September 10, 2009 6:00 PM
Where: Paul Mahder Gallery
3378 Sacramento Street @ Walnut
Concord, CA 94521
How: Official Website
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What/Why: The Paul Mahder Gallery is proud to present the U.S. Premiere of new paintings by internationally recognized Brazilian artist Antonio Veronese. Now living in Paris, he has recently exhibited at the United Nations, Art Paris 2009, Galerie Celal – Paris, and solo exhibits at the History Museum – Domaine National de Saint-Cloud, Barbizon Village of Painters and the Museum of Asago Village, Japan.
About the artist:
Antonio Veronese was born of Italian parents in Brotas, a small town near So Paulo in 1953. At an early age he was obsessed with drawing faces and he’s been painting them ever since. Now he’s a master painter. For more than sixteen years he taught art and painting to young prisoners in Rio de Janeiro. He believed art was a “drug” that could psychologically rehabilitate these disenfranchised children. And it did. Over 50% of the children he worked with were rehabilitated into society. Because of his work he was invited to the Commission on Human Rights at the United Nations, and received the highest honor from the Supreme Court of Justice of Brazil.
It is the remarkable struggle and work of Antonio Veronese to reduce violence against youth in Rio de Janeiro.
- Hillary Clinton, USA Secretary of State
The project of rehabilitation through art is a fascinating, rich human experience. I think Antonio Veronese’s life is a lesson for us all, because he is proving that Art can be a path of liberation for those in precarious living situations. The work of Antonio Veronese is a cultural heroic effort to ensure that children in prison regain a sense of dignity through art. I think this is a beautiful experience that we need to communicate to all.
- Francisco Welfort, Minister of Culture, Brazil
Veronese remarks, “The image of a hedonistic Rio de Janeiro, all samba and soccer, has become a cliché and our intellectuals have become our worst natural disaster. Armored cars have become a status symbol, but a society that suffers from fear every day is in defeat.”
For such words and paintings that exposed entrenched official violence and gave voice to victimized children, Veronese was personally threatened with violence. He ultimately had to flee to save his life. He relocated to Paris where he has continued to show in more than 30 art exhibitions, exhibiting in many museums, appearing in multiple public and private collections.
Veronese continues to paint faces, yet his work is deeper than just children in Brazil’s prisons. For him the face is “inexhaustible, it expresses such a variety of emotions… a Pandora’s box”.
It’s true that Veronese’s constant proximity with these children in distress has strongly influenced his painting, but what emerges is deeper … In fact, I find it bewildering that Veronese has successfully painted our inability to face life and the world today. That is why his work is beyond fashion, that’s why it’s a classic. Absent in our time, poisoned by the galloping abstractionism, nihilism and conceptual art, Veronese is someone who draws the face of our time. This is precisely what Veronese is doing.
- Francisco Brennand, painter and sculptor
Antonio Veronese, brazilian´s painter, leaves in France.
To see his works go to:
The Face of Antonio Veronese
The search, almost obsessive, for the face… Only the face, because in it there is the concentration of everything, the abstract… But the challenge is not the academic face, submitted to the anatomy and perspective rules…no! Veronese’s face is of absolute simplicity, almost abstractionist… in it, there is not either the bony skeleton or, some times, the correlated conception of each face. But attention, this false simplicity is impregnated with an affecting humanism.
In 2003, with his life threatened in Rio because of the delation made by his paintings of the violence against minors, Veronese leaves Brazil to live in France. This is an example of the denunciative power of his paintings, which bothers the denounced executioner. He leaves Brazil, but not the total engagement to the Brazilian issue. In exhibits in the United States, Switzerland and France, he continues to show obsessively these faces, putting a face to those people who don’t have the right to image, a form to react to his own perplexity. In 2003, with Views of Silence in Paris, he opens up a surprising space in first class French media. The exhibit, initially provided for fifteen days, was extended in exhibition for two months.
Invited by the news Jornal da Tarde, from Grupo Estado, to give his opinion about São Paulo Art Biennial in 2002, summarized his position in one sentence: “There is more emotion and history in a simple watercolor from Egon Schiele than in all pavilion of São Paulo Art Biennial. Different from the artists that only talk through their art, Veronese constantly manifests, engaged and not fearing the stereotype that accompanies the word. For him, the artist, as any citizen, must be engaged by principle, and insinuates that we all have, especially in Brazil, “le devoir de l’insolénce”. Physically away from Brazil, but never emotionally departed from the problems of his country, the painter continues to roar from his studio in Fontainebleau Forest, as a reaction to 2006 legislative poll: “… we are from a country that loves to credit its offenses to the incompetence and improbity to the politics. But a people that denies reelection to Antonio Carlos Biscaia and made Paulo Maluf the most voted must stop complaining about politicians and take responsibility…” A ferocious critic of the inactivity from people from Rio in face of the crisis in the city, he says in interview to Radio France “…it is time for Rio to look up in the mirror, because feeling shame is already a good start!”
In 1990, Tom Jobim wrote: “In Veronese’s paintings, there are the characters of what he calls Rio’s civil war. Their faces trace a nerve-racking profile of the country. A definite inventory of our anger period”
The Four Brats
There are four brats in a hell of a raid under a thin rain. Four little rude Brazilians, children of God and the whore, in a suicidal zigzag in the Russian roulette of cars in motion: -Catch, him, catch him… The one on the front, the biggest of the four, granting the theft product in the deepest part of his underwear, has engraved in his face an adrenalin “overdose”: eyes plunging from the facial fossas as caricature Beth Daves in agony. Right behind, running fast, comes another black boy covering the back: tiny creature with nude head and thin shins, extremely white teeth despite the lack of milk during childhood, and the head spinning in a furor, making the tendons pop of his neck as a quarter back in danger in the small area. Finally, delayed on the run, the two skinniest ones – physic cultivated in the Misery Gym Academy – in a clumsiness of rended cattle: the legs bleeding against the bumper steel, with bare feet in the jugglery of the nude asphalt, and the sway of the little Pelés trying – in the difficulty and the limit of the lungs – to follow the ones on the front in the terrible procession. -Catch them, catch the sons of bitches! -screams the tied up man puffing by the nose, abandoned car in the street to gather in the insane flow of the followers. -Caaatch them! – repeats the crowd in choir, absorbed by the roman circus settled and that breaks the routine of the Sunday afternoon. Down the street, at the corner, a traffic warden, alarmed by the mess, takes an enormous baton and prepares the enclosure.
The crowd freezes in expectation… The biggest one, ignoring the police authority, keeps the speed and course unchanged until, at the imminence of the final bounce, by the nose of the well-built, flips like an acrobat and, disregarding gravity like a Chagal character, floats by the cars locked in the traffic jam, disappearing without a trace at the corner of the canal. -This one is gone!! – predicts the animal’s game banker, having a satisfaction smile on the face. The second black kid, the one on the back, guaranteed on the route traced by the front one, falls in the same trap: the slaughterhouse corridor, between the bus and the wall. -This one will not escape!! -screams the crowd, drooling with sadism – but the kid, with the furious stolen driver on his track, does not slow down in the suicidal course, disdaining of his bad fate. -Catch him, catch him, fuck! – screams the posh lady in the imported car, driven by a hysteria almost sexual. A group of enriched rascals, from behind the vehicles, increases the closures and closes the exits. The police officer spreads his arms and legs like a goal keeper for the penalty. The crowd counts in unison the meter to the possible denouement: -ten,… eight,… five,… three,… Then, the big driver that comes from the back, stretches his leg in a capoeira step, flinging a violent rabo-de-arraia in the hectic shins of the sprinter.
The lad looses his balance, almost falls, weaken but doesn’t hesitate and, pushing the oxygen from deep in his body, sways the body slippery with sweat and passes, slick as a hare, in between the legs of the policeman, leaving militia and driver scattered on the floor after violent frontal chock. Brazilian little Garrincha who folds and disappears, never to be seen again, in the same canal corner. The animal’s game banker doesn’t resist and punches the air with a loud – son of a bitch!! – But there are still two of them, dear Lord!!, the two small ones from the back trying to escape the traffic jam labyrinth. -There are two more!! – points out the lady, with half the body outside the vehicle. The crowd turns their heads in Rolland Garros choreography… -Back there, there are two more!!-, many people repeat. The traffic warden, trying to set again from the humiliation of the spectacular falling, reassumes the war operation screaming: – Catch them, catch the jerk, don’t let him escape!! Minduim, the toothless mulatto coming from last, passes buzzing by the bus and enters in a narrow corridor made by the cars. Surrounded, he slips as with vaseline by underneath a bus, facing, in the opposite sidewalk, with Dentinho, the smallest and the only white one of the boys, who, being no longer able to run, starts crying… a deep, desperate cry; dread printed in the small child’s eyes. -Wait me, wait me, Minduim-, he begs. Don’t leave me here!!! Minduim, touched by the cry of the small one, vacillates, delays his steps and reaches his solidary hand, but looses a precious time… They are surrounded, there is nowhere to escape. In the last and desperate resource, they throw themselves in the dirty waters of the Visconde’s canal, sheltering in the old rocks bridge.
The crowd, as troops chasing foxes, surrounds them by the other side and makes a wall. End of the line! The ragged pair sits, defeated, in the filthy water, the rib bones opening the accordion bellows of the chest like in the agony of the consumption. Dentinho cries convulsively, but Minduim, fear and rebellion condensed in the pathetic expression in his face, faces the crowd with surprising bravery: -Don’t hit, son of a bitch – threats the little guy, brave as a impounded marmoset. Why are you holding me? What did I do, son of a bitch? — Stole my wallet-, yells the rascal that, foaming by the nose, has his fury restrained by the warden in the messy swampy waters. -I stole you!? No, I didn’t steal you. Who stole you was Tião, the black guy that ya let escape. I didn’t steal anyone, no!! – repeats the small one, coarsening his voice, before the silence of the numb crowd. –Where is it, where it your wallet? It isn’t with me! Look, inspect me. I didn’t steal nothing! I’m clean!! And leave me, fuck!! – screams the kid, extricating, in a fury, from his own shirt stuck in the hands of the big guy. -But why were you running, delinquent? – asks the police officer… Nothing to hide, nothing to fear! The boy, then, raising up his nose in a challenging way – breathing heavily like a bullfighter, his eyes in the eyes of the crowd – and already with a rehearsed expression in the face, almost looking like arrogance, with his voice surprisingly firm considering the situation: -I ran because today is Sunday, and it’s time for Flamengo to play. Why? Can’t people go to the soccer in this city anymore?! And taking the smaller one by the hand – who, contaminated by his braveness, controls the cry in a convulsive sob crisis – slowly departs from the amazed crowd, to whom he addresses for the last time, now conscientious of his constitutional rights: – And don’t hit, brother, don’t hit coz we are under aged!!
Sentences from his Interviews
Brazilians love to credit their offenses to the politicians… But a people who denies reelection of Antonio Carlos Biscaia and made Paulo Maluf the most voted of the country, must stop blaming politicians and take their own responsibility!
“They killed the rascal because of a package of sliced bread. Three shots on the back and the little creature spreaded there, grasping the “give us this day our daily bread”.
“I don’t plead impunity. I know that part of these boys suffer from such moral blood poisoning that they have to be departed from society. But what hurts is to verify that the greatest part of them could be saved, but is simply being dumped.”
“Weekly salary of a child in sisal hemp industry is equivalent to the daily production of a goat. And I ask myself: in the laziest of the social politics, isn’t it possible to give a goat to each family that has a child in the sisal hemp industry?”
“Rio needs to look up in the mirror. Feel shame is a good start.”
“I give several motifs for a boy to leave drug dealing. But there comes the dealer in chief and doubles my offer immediately.”
“The hedonistic image of a Rio of Samba and soccer became a cliché in Atlântida movies. Today we are transformed in a society of extreme perversity.”
“…violence in Rio is a modern form of class struggle…”
“Rio needs an impulse of citizenship!”
“Nowadays Rio’s thinking upper class fits in an audience from Canecão…”
“Our upper class is the worst of the natural catastrophes.”
“There are more things between heaven and earth than our vain middle class…”
“For this little upper class, armored car is a symbol of status…”
“Savoir Vivre ansemble” is the basic material in French public school. In Rio, when the arguments cease, the fellow goes on spanking.”
“In Rio, stupidity has never been so firmly dug in…”
“Rio lost mouthpiece. When I see the governor’s dresses I miss Nara Leão extremely…”
“Crisis in Rio is an intelligence crisis…”
“Antony Garotinho’s election is a testimony of provincialism.”
“…a society that suffers from fear daily, is a defeated society.”
“…press from Rio chickens out in the proposal of civil disobedience as a way to face violence blood poisoning.”
“…our press is full of fast-thinkers or, as the Italians prefer, “tutologos”: people who read the newspapers in the mornings, consult their old books in the afternoon and throw up vain philosophy on the next morning issue.”
“In Brazil, being poor is consumed fact.”
“Our little upper class is horrified by the land reform and dreams of living in Europe… without knowing that Europe is Europe thanks to land reform.”
“Government spends more money with sanitation in slums than with land reform, and it explains the exodus to the big cities…”
“In Brazil, we all have ‘le devoir de l’insolence’.”
Plus information and photos at: