Santo Amaro da Purificação, Bahia state, 1940
Lives and works in São Paulo
Born in a traditional family of goldsmiths, the Bahian artist learned carpentry and the use of linotype in his homeland, as well as studying graphic composition at the Official Press of Santo Amaro da Purificação. In 1959, still in his hometown, he held his first solo exhibition, considered a landmark of the origin of the tropicalist movement. In the following decade, he studied printing at the Bahia School of Fine Arts (UFBA).
He has shown his work at several galleries and starred in national and international exhibitions (approximately 50 solo exhibits and over 150 collective). In 1972 he was awarded the gold medal during the 3rd Biennale of Florence of Graphic Arts, Italy, and he received an award from the Paulista Association of Art Critics (APCA) the following year for best engraver, and in 1983 for best sculptor. Still in the 1980s, he became the director of the Bahia Museum of Arts and taught graphic arts and sculpture at the Arts College at the City University of New York. In the 1990s, he led the renovation and modernization of the Pinacoteca of the State of São Paulo, of which he was director; In 2004, he founded the Afro Brazil Museum, which he still directs today; and in 2005, he served as Municipal Secretary of Culture. In 2007, he was honored with a show at the Tomie Ohtake Institute fully dedicated to his work (Autobiography of gesture (Autobiografia do gesto), and in 2018 he received a similar tribute from the São Paulo Art Museum (Masp) as part of the Afro-Atlantic Stories project.
“Emanoel Araújo learned carpentry as a young man, a skill that would be fundamental for dealing with wood and making his sculptures inspired by geometric shapes and planes. Of Nagô origin, his work must be seen as part of a second constructivist generation, from the 1960s. With an abstract symbolic character, his art presents forms of African cultural roots inspired by orishas, pure geometry and gestures and cosmogony of religious symbols. The artist uses engraving and drawing to think prior to executing his sculptures – which is the three-dimensional form of drawing. The sketch has to fit into the wood and the work is the gesture that transforms itself into geometry.”