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Art Watch : Ana Maria Pacheco

Ana Maria Pacheco is in focus for our Art Watch for today. This section is brought to you by Art From Us and Divvya Nirula. The Artists we spotlight here can be from any field, across any discipline, and using a variety of media. We share here why we think they are important and worth watching. Be it genius creators of eras gone by. Or the upcoming contemporary artist who is yet to have their first show. All come under the purview of Art Watch.

This printmaker, sculptor and painter lives and works in the U.K. However her work is directly inspired by Europe and the ‘New World’. Its historical ties and socio-cultural exchanges over the centuries past. In particular to Latin America and Brazil. From the coup by the military junta in Brazil, in 1964, to present day trade exchanges. These events fuel her themes of mythology, unchecked power, the importance of journeys and discovery. And ultimately the spiritual experience of groups of people. For Pacheco the narrative and story-telling is of the greatest importance.

Pacheco was born in Brazil in 1943, edging World War II. And her growing up years have definitely shaped the way she thinks and creates art. It can be said that Ana Maria Pacheco is an artist of extraordinary diversity. A multidisciplinary artist, her work ranges from painting, sculpture to printmaking. In terms of content and subject matter, she draws on a wide variety of cultural references. These include Brazilian folklore, classical myth, mystical Catholicism and medieval satire.

Pacheco tells her stories using her source material creatively, that enhances her art of storytelling. The genius of Pacheco is that she can create so many layers of narrative and meaning within a single work.

Why Ana Maria Pacheco?

“I like to make works that are with the world and in the world,” the artist says, adding that this means they will always resonate and be universal.

Pacheco graduated in fine arts and music studies from her local catholic university, where she taught for several years. It is not surprising that her work, is endowed with history, myth, folklore, “high culture”, and humour. This amalgamation of ideas was presented at the 1971 São Paulo Biennale as ‘an insightful approach to the identity issues that were decisive in Brazilian artistic production since the 1920s’.

She received a grant from the Slade School of Fine Art in 1973, which was her to escape from the ‘Years of Lead’ of the ruling dictatorship, protecting her artistry. O Aleijadinho (b. Antonio Francisco Lisboa, 1738-1814), a significant figure of Brazilian baroque religious statuary, is one of her main inspirations. His technique (polychromatic woodcarving), theatrical compositions (sculpted groups serving the purpose of a story) and use of elements from various cultures (naturalist hair and teeth reminiscent of indigenous and African ritual masks) also make their way into Pacheco’s sculpture. One can clearly see expressive faces, the compact bodies of the figures inhabiting her engravings and paintings, share the distinct hieratic qualities and an incredible emotional strength as did Aleijadinho’s sculpted groups.

Since 1980 she has exhibited widely internationally and from 1997-2000 was the Associate Artist at The National Gallery.

For more Artists handpicked by Divvya Nirula – explore the ART WATCH archive.

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