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Rubem Valentim
(1922 - 1991)

Rubem Valentim’s career as a painter began in the late 1940s. His production combines several sources that are part of the Brazilian cultural legacy: popular traditions from the ceramic production of the Northeast, the modernist propositions from the Southeast and the idea of cultural anthropophagy. In his work, the formal development of constructivist ideas is recreated using Brazilian points of reference, both in formal and historical-political terms. Valentim’s works are structurally organized and composed of abstract signs made from horizontal and vertical lines, circles, cubes and arrows. These elements are geometric reductions of Orixá, or deities, from the Afro-Brazilian religions Candomblé and Umbanda. These religions were originally brought to the Americas by enslaved Yoruba peoples from West and Central Africa. Once in Brazil, Candomblé and Umbanda developed further from the presence of indigenous groups and the influence of the Roman Catholic Church installed in Brazil by Portuguese colonizers. Alongside his notion of pictorial space and chromatic investigations, Valentims’ work opens up to a myriad of possibilities. His chromatic study generates a new language – a new ‘signography’ –, whose iconography is revealed both to those that are familiar and not familiar with the Afro-Brazilian religious references he uses. The semiology present in his production proposes the union of the sacred and the Cartesian, conjuring spiritual concerns almost mathematically. 

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