Selma Feriani Gallery


Gustavo NAzareno
Tunis, Tunisia


The world lies in the hands of Eshu. The lord of the movement and the messenger, in charge of taking to the pantheon the ebó[1] and the herald. Through his voice and body, he emanates the passion, sexuality, and wits of communication. To him, Oxalá granted the crossroads: the territory where different paths are created. Thus, Eshu imposes himself, looks at us to the point of extracting our soul, but only introduces himself, just like an orator; in a charcoal-made distension, he gives way to his lady – hers is the world from which he reveals himself.

The Dama de Bará exposes herself delicately. She is the pombajira, a strong woman with the same role as Eshu, connected to communication and sexuality. She resides on the crossroads and the streets – unexpected social space for a woman – and thus, subverts and breaks paradigms. The lady in red and black looms over us just like the mystery carried by the night, showing one half of her face, and her penetrating gaze, which seems to know our soul.

Bará is expressed through an economic pictorialism that creates relations with the medium, i.e., in the making of the picture through the oil paint, the brush and the treated linen. Across the surface, the oil paint runs steadily and lively in shades of red and black. Meanwhile, the garments covering her are represented with softness and sumptuousness. This woman of a simple gesture, albeit strong, exposes her world and her relationship with other forces, operated in the intensity and calmness of sea waters, in the power of red and lightning, in the vigour of the ìgbín[2] and white, the place of wisdom.

The world presented by Bará is a sort of unusual place, filled with uncertainty and mystery. It is as if it were a primal state, something preceding existence. The world uncovered by Bará is made of mountains and cliffs, torn by fog and clouds, and characterized by different shades of white, grey, and blue. At other times, the sky is scarred by rays and a strong charge of red, embodied by this woman standing between solitude and power. The work induces longing and belonging through a play of light, warm and cold colours, which together not only “make the scene uniform”[3] but set a new world.

The exhibition Pombajira, by Gustavo Nazareno, encapsulates the power of mystery and is an offering to our Dama. Indeed, Nazareno offers a series of works that are born from painting itself, without prior study, much like the Venetian school, which freed painting from form to achieve gestures operated directly through light and colour. The series of paintings for the Dama de Bará also features landscapes of different shades of colours and forms, which blur the borders between figure, background, and garment details. The charcoal, on the other hand, traces choreographies of twisting and stretching bodies that seem to break through the limits imposed by the support.

Thus, the exhibition epitomizes the mystery of faith – the crossroads generating diversity and novelty. For this reason, Eshu Lonã only advances a gesture towards this narrative, because the Dama de Bará, dressed in red and black, is the one blowing the message and singing the pictorial language and anatomy of new beings to her son Gustavo Nazareno.

Ana Paula Lopes

São Paulo, 2023