Curated by Denise Mattar, Em Busca da Essência [In Search of the Essence] is the first solo show by Ismael Nery (1900, Belém – 1934, Rio de Janeiro) in 15 years, since the award winning exhibit “Ismael Nery 100 Anos – A Poética de um Mito” [Ismael Nery 100 Years – The Poetics of a Myth], also curated by Mattar.
The show gathers 45 works – some of them hitherto unseen –, including paintings, drawings and watercolours, plus a selection of poems by the artist. Nery wasn’t aligned neither with the academics nor with the modernists; mystic and catholic, he developed an universal visual vocabulary when Brazilian art was immersed in the ideal of nation. His main theme is the human figure, without any reference of time or space – a human being that searches for its own self and, at the same time, for merging with the other. With his portraits and self-portraits, he’s the “Divine Self”, “Satanic Self” and “Masculine and Feminine Self”; his figure is fused with the one of his friend, the poet Murilo Mendes (1901, Juiz de Fora, Brazil – 1975, Lisbon, Portugal) and with his wife, the poet Adalgisa Nery (1905, Rio de Janeiro – 1980, Rio de Janeiro), who was one of the main inspirations for his work, as well as his tragic family, composed of prematurely deceased father and brother and a mother maddened by grief. When diagnosed with tuberculosis, in 1930, Nery’s production changed drastically – his world of seduction was replaced by the presence of death in figures with apparent viscera and apparent bodies. His two most sour series are from this period: “The History of Ismael Nery” and “Miserabilia”.
- Ismael Nery, Autorretrato Satânico, oil on canvas, 32,5 x 26,5 cm. Courtesy of Almeida e Dale
- Ismael Nery, Composição Surrealista, oil on canvas, 34 x 26 cm. Courtesy of Almeida e Dale
- Ismael Nery, Mulher Sentada com Ramo de Flores, 1927. Courtesy of Almeida e Dale