Indigenous artist Chico da Silva is having his first major solo show in NYC

October 27, 2023

A significant solo exhibition of Chico’s= work will debut in New York at the David Kordansky Gallery

In the 1940s, a Brazilian artist of Indigenous heritage, Francisco da Silva, known as “Chico da Silva” or simply “Chico,” was crafting imaginative worlds on the walls of fishermen’s homes when Swiss art critic Jean-Pierre Chabloz, who had sought refuge in Brazil from war-torn Europe, first encountered his visionary art.

Chabloz saw Chico’s paintings as a pristine representation of Brazilian visual art, untainted by the prevailing European neoclassical influences. Chico’s mesmerizing paintings feature fantastical creatures engaged in lively battles within vibrant, hallucinatory landscapes adorned with brilliant colors and intricate patterns. His art became a sensation not only in Brazil but also on the global stage.

Tragically, Chico’s life took a downturn, and he struggled with alcoholism until his passing in 1985. His fall from grace in the art world was as swift as his rise. Initially celebrated for his distinctive “primitive” style, the art world later questioned the authenticity of his work.

However, Chico’s profound impact has left behind a complex legacy, one that is only now starting to be fully understood and appreciated. “As the art world begins to widen its eyes to indigeneity, we want to bring widespread attention to the work and legacy of Chico da Silva who, in the most visionary manner, paved the way for a new generation of Indigenous artists starting to come up in Brazil“, said gallerist David Kordansky to The New York Times.

On October 27, a significant solo exhibition of Chico’s work will debut in New York at the David Kordansky Gallery. The showcase will feature around 25 paintings and works on paper from the 1960s and early 70s. This follows a Chico exhibition at last year’s Independent art fair in New York, hosted by the São Paulo gallery Galatea. Additionally, the largest retrospective of Chico’s work, titled “Chico da Silva and the Pirambu Studio,” was on display this spring at the Pinacoteca de São Paulo, and it is currently running through October 29 at the Pinacoteca do Ceará in Fortaleza.

Chico da Silva’s reevaluated legacy not only highlights his exceptional artistic talent and versatility but also underscores his commitment to a way of life deeply rooted in communal values and resource sharing. For Chico, collaborating with his neighbors was a natural extension of this long-established lifestyle.

To honor Chico’s profound contributions, the David Kordansky Gallery will allocate a portion of the exhibition’s sales towards supporting the Instituto Iepé and the Escola Pirambu, which Chico himself founded in Fortaleza, Ceará. This initiative aims to aid indigenous-led organizations dedicated to safeguarding indigenous knowledge and culture.

October 27 – December 16, 2023

Tatiana Cesso

As a journalist, I've made it my mission to explore and share stories that inspire, inform, and entertain. You may have stumbled upon my work in esteemed publications such as InStyle, Marie Claire, Bazaar, L’Officiel, and Vogue, among others. Having called the U.S. home since 2010, I've lived in Chicago, LA, and currently, Miami. But my heart always beats to the rhythm of Brazil. It's where I was born and raised, and my love for its culture, people, and energy knows no bounds. To share this passion, I've founded Brazilcore, a platform aimed at bridging the gap between Brazil and English speakers worldwide.

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