35th Bienal de São Paulo
6 Set to 10 Dec 2023
Free Admission
35th Bienal de
São Paulo
6 Set to 10 Dec
Exhibition view of the work of Emanoel Araujo during the 35th Bienal de São Paulo – choreographies of the impossible © Levi Fanan / Fundação Bienal de São Paulo

Emanoel Araujo

Emanoel Araujo was a Brazilian artist and curator, renowned for his numerous contributions to the strengthening of Afro-Brazilian history and art. From a family of goldsmiths, Araujo had a diversified education, learning woodworking techniques which led him to refine, among other formal and aesthetic aspects, his practice as an engraver and sculptor.

Araujo began his career in Santo Amaro (in the state of Bahia) as a typographer and developed skills in engraving and sculpture while exploring geometric abstraction throughout his artistic career. As a sculptor, Araujo paid close attention to the selection of materials, incorporating elements from Amerindian, African, and Afro-Brazilian cultures into his works. His sculptures often allude to ships, masks, and symbolic representations of the cosmogony of African and Afro-Brazilian religions.

In the work exhibited at the 35th Bienal, a monumental relief, one can see the way the artist builds rhythm and movement, creating pieces that convey a marked visual dynamism and sense of fluidity. Color also plays a fundamental role in his work; Araujo’s use of vibrant and contrasting colors conferred vitality and impact upon his sculptures – formal characteristics that help define the aesthetics and identity of his work.

Although the concept of the Brazilian riscadura [trace] is associated with the work of the Bahian artist Rubem Valentim, one can notice the reverberations of this concept in Araujo’s work, as acknowledged by the artist himself. His sculptures frequently address themes of Afro-Brazilian culture, incorporating symbols and motifs related to Afro-Brazilian traditions and spirituality.

In addition to his artistic work, Araujo played an important role as a curator and cultural administrator. He ran exhibitions in Brazil and abroad, showing works by African and Afro-Brazilian artists, in addition to directing the Museu de Arte da Bahia, the Pinacoteca de São Paulo, and founding the Museu Afro Brasil. Araujo’s dedication to promoting Afro-Brazilian art and culture has had a significant impact on the recognition and appreciation of African heritage in the Brazilian and international art scenes. His influence helped shape the contemporary art scene in Brazil and abroad, making him an inspiring and influential figure to this day.

horrana de kássia santoz
translated from Portuguese by philip somervell

Emanoel Araujo (Santo Amaro da Purificação, BA, Brazil, 1940 – São Paulo, Brazil, 2022) was a sculptor, printmaker, and curator. He exhibited in various galleries and national and international shows, totaling around fifty solo exhibitions and over 150 group exhibitions. He directed the Museu de Arte da Bahia (Salvador, Brazil), Pinacoteca de São Paulo, and Museu Afro Brasil (São Paulo, Brazil).