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Maria Leontina

(1917 - 1984)

A fundamental artist of the post-war period in Brazilian art, Leontina begins her production in the 1940’s with a modernist aesthetic in pieces on canvas and paper. Her drawings and paintings present a figurative language that rapidly develops in the direction of an expressionist approach. Throughout the 1950’s, the iconography of her work little by little surpasses traditional themes such as still-lifes and portraits and then urban sceneries and geometric constructions arise. In this period, the artist flirts with constructivism, at the moment prominent in the plastic arts in Brazil, but her work doesn’t adhere to the dogmas of the movement and thus her relation to shapes and colors happens in a suave and transparent way, the so-called “sensible geometry”. From the 1960’s and during her last decades of production, the works transit between the abstract and the figurative, but in both, however, it is noticeable the presence of a taciturn atmosphere that permeates all of her oeuvre. Never mind the period or the technique used by the artist, her work is continuously refined, sharp and indicates layers and varied nuances to be absorbed by the spectator, both pictorially and transcendentally. Leontina is often remembered in history as the wife of Milton Dacosta. This exhibition aims at a revision of this perspective; besides showing the public a general take on the works of this essential artist to the national art, the show intends to highlight a production that was visually and conceptually a pioneer in its time by mixing geometry, figuration and abstraction in a coherent and singular manner, being possibly one of the intersection points of modern and contemporary Brazilian art.

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