At first glance, Brazil and India do not share many similarities. At 14,067km apart, with the fastest travel route being a 22-hour flight, it’s not very surprising. But the Brazilian government wants to change that impression. The country that was once dubbed ‘West India’, shares more than just a love of mangoes with India. And, with the 4 June visit of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the Brazilian embassy plans to roll out its first tactic for change: a week-long music, food and art festival at the India Habitat Centre (IHC) in New Delhi. “This is the best way for us to get to know each other,” says Paulo Morales, the cultural counsellor at the Brazilian embassy in New Delhi.
Viva Brasilia: Brazilian artist Regina Silveira’s installation.
“In many ways, Brazil is just like India. We’ve had our share of different cultures coming and intermingling. The show will be a great cross-cultural exchange,” says curator Alka Pande.
The festival will be but a preview for a large-scale cultural festival to take place across India in the winter of 2008. And, if all goes well, says Morales, a year-long arts festival will be scheduled for 2010 in both countries, showcasing Brazilian art in India and Indian art there. The festival will include cinema, photography, dance, fashion and visual arts.
The IHC preview festival is called Brazilian Watercolours, after a famous samba. On display will be the artwork of only two major Brazilian artists and the music of one band, but Pande says the Brazilian government has worked hard to bring some of Brazil’s finest artists to exhibit at the show.
The first artist, Regina Silveira, has been a major player on the Brazilian art scene since the 1960s and will be showing her work at the Visual Art Gallery. Silveira exhibited in India 16 years ago, as well as at galleries around the world, including the Reina Sophia Museum in Madrid. Her multimedia work and architectural installations push the rules of perspective and create an interactive experience for viewers.
The second artist, Arthur Luis Piza, is an etching-maker based in Paris since 1951 and has been largely responsible for pushing Brazilian art into the European art scene. His current work uses wire fields to layer and construct forms in an exploration of geometry. In an email interview, he says that his work tries to show that even the most “usual, customary things that surround us can be made into art”. And, as a Brazilian, he comes from a tradition where “we have learned to capture and to digest what was made by Europeans, which means we deconstruct it and build it anew”. That idea of interpreting the western world anew can be shared by the Indian experience. His work will be on display at the Palm Court Gallery.
To introduce the show, the sultry notes of samba, sung by Brazilian artist Teresa Cristina, will fill the amphitheatre for the first two nights of the exhibition. Cristina and her band, Semente, will perform traditional Brazilian songs, as well as some of her personal compositions.
Brazilian Watercolours will be held from 4 to 12 June at the India Habitat Centre in New Delhi.