12 August – 07 October 2010

Arte Beco

With the Brazilian-Swiss Orlando Geremia Schüpbach, an artist who transforms an entire floor into a favela makes a stopover in BRASILEA and fits into the concept of the still young institution at Basel’s Rhine harbour as called, desired or conjured. As with the permanent collection of the founder Walter Wüthrich, the aim here is to convey Brazilian culture and in particular to promote exchange between Switzerland and Brazil.

The artist, who was born in Bern in 1950 and often lives in Salvador, calls himself “dancer – actor – choreographer – director – producer – producer – bohemian”, although the order could well be the other way round and the “painter” is missing in the list of his talents and professions. But this is what this project is all about, called “Arte Beco” and dedicated to everyday life in the quarters of San Salvador da Bahia, its alleys, houses, shops and people. In a favela built by Schüpbach himself, as in 2003 in Bahia itself and 2007 in Bern, he hangs his pictures, which show this picturesque world in an independent and expressive way. Everything seems authentic, intensely experienced, and nourishes his strength in the extraordinary personality of this “Orlando furioso” with tender, poetic sides.

In Basel, he is showing a good seventy paintings, created between 2002 and 2007, in strong colours, often colourful, painted on canvas, which are rawly carpentered and boosted and framed by himself. They show the mythical city by the sea, the splendid views from the favelas, wonderful beaches, they lead into the “Becos”, the dead ends and thus into the labyrinth, they show city views including sights, streets full of advertising, shops and busy markets. But above all, they follow the daily life, this immense fullness of life, this vitality in the middle of wealth and poverty. They oscillate between depictions of work, quiet melancholy and idleness.

Orlando has retained a completely independent visual language, a kind of naivety, trained at most in “street art” and “comic”: the most adequate correspondence to the hardness and warmth of social reality, filled with intense emotionality. This painting vibrates. It is entirely derived from experience and contemplation, although some of the paintings were created in Switzerland and from photographs. But they always tell, full of memories, of a city that has become a melting pot of cultures and still beats as the cultural heart of the country. Because the pictures are to be seen in their recreated surroundings, they appear more than mere “art”, but rather as testimonies to a whole context of life, to the adventure of life, the courage to live. The message of our Brazilian dancer and dreamer, the painter and chronicler Orlando Geremia Schüpbach is about the exotic beauty of the bohemian everyday life.