17 September – 20 November 2021
Galeria Kogan Amaro Zurich
Ramistrasse, 35- Zurich, Switzerland
About the exhibition
“NKENDA afroindígena”, presented by Afro-Indigenous artist from Brasilia Josafá Neves on ground floor, is the solo exhibition that expresses an ethnic symbolism and deep social philosophic research through the paintings of the Indigenous archetypes that make part of the language and spirituality of the native Brazilians. “NKENDA afroindígena” is part of the artist’s trajectory, dedicated to recovering images obliterated by the dominating narrative of Brazilian art history, which favours only aesthetic elements from the European heritage to the detriment of the enormous indigenous and African contributions, essential in the construction of Brazilian visual culture. In the wake of the great Rubem Valentim, Josafá reconstructs, with extreme intellectual sophistication, the iconic pantheon derived from the native indigenous and the African people who arrived to Brazil in the degrading conditions of slavery.
Art has always been an antenna for capturing all phenomena surrounding us, a kind of inner spark seeking the most remote expressions from the spirit and from the magical act of creation.
Looking for the meaning of things that were recorded in time immemorial has been the most recent phenomenon among many artists from the latter decades of the Twentieth Century. This is how an eloquent artist like Josafá Neves is revealed, from the country’s central highlands, from the capital, from magical Brasilia… A land of many spiritual phenomena, hot-blooded people and a racial and religious (even mystic) confluence, which now meets this artist – like he’s a Vodum himself – as he radiates these vibes, these archetypes etched in the collective memory of past and present times.
Hence this symbolic search for the shapes, the shapes within other expanded shapes, replicated like a river of secret passions and, yet, silent, filed in the heart of memory, of deities inhabiting the space between heaven and earth.
The nature and the magical realm through which he expresses himself, lays out this mystery language from Christian, indigenous, African and African-Brazilian deities. These are vivid images, pictured in symbolic colors.
Here in this pantheon, where this magical-religious encounter occurs, a temple inhabited by entities whose figures are entangled like something pulsating, alive, alludes to strong energies, inherent to a very ancient knowledge in capturing these cut-out meanders. And where do the prayers to these entities who dwell on earth and translate the pure universal force come from?
Africans of Bantu origin played a fundamental role in the composition of Brazilian cultural history during the three centuries of slavery. Making visible the African presence in the formation of Brazilian Portuguese, Nkenda comes from the Kimbundo (Bantu) language, which means Inner Path towards oneself. This path goes through the roots and ancestry of the black people, who, in a pact of solidarity and resistance, joined the indigenous people in Brazil. From this bond emerges cultural exchanges, a way of life, aesthetics, and experiences between indigenous natives and diasporic Africans.
About the artist
Brasília – Brazil, 1971
Livis and works in Brasília – Brazil
Self-taught African-Brazilian artist, born in Brasilia, in 1971. In 24 years of full dedication to the art practice, he has participated in group and solo shows with oil paintings, drawings, sculptures, ceramics and installations in cities such as Brasilia, Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Paris, Massachusetts, Havana and Caracas. The painting practice is of indisputable and utter importance to the artist. One of the alluring elements of Josafá’s works lies precisely in the conscientious devise of creating paintings from within a black skin: all canvases are painted black before the application of any other color. The richness and atmosphere created are unique.