|Tile panel of a lizard on a monumental wall in the Oficina Francisco Brennand|
I made costumes in my guest house room to wear in the parades, which have a different style of music and dance called Frevo. Rather than the stadium spectacle of the Sambadromo in Rio, the street parties in Recife are all inclusive and really fun, and at times overwhelming.
|Batman and Robin (me)|
|Olinda is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Convent of São Francisco is the oldest in Brazil|
|A small menagerie of the hundreds of figurines in Renaldo Eckenberger's studio|
|Remaldo Eckenberger and his dog in the garden two flights down from his studio and flat in the historic downtown of Salvador de Bahia|
|Ceramic works and a photo mural in the Museé Picasso in Paris|
|Undulating tile mosaic benches in Parc Guell in Barcelona were decorated by Antonio Gaudi's assistant Josep Maria Jujol|
|Boxed tiles in a warehouse at the Oficina Cerâmica Francisco Brennand|
Being a thrifty traveler, I opted to take a bus to Várzea. This can be a lot of work, and the equatorial heat made it a sweaty adventure. After navigating the chaos of the bus stand in Boa Viagem. I managed to find the one I was looking for. A priest in brown robes sat next to me on the ride, perhaps foretelling the divine experience that awaited me. I was dropped at the entrance to a long drive and started walking down the palm lined road flanked by lush humid jungle. A nice cool air conditioned taxi came to my rescue and took me the rest of the way.
The factory is an expansive complex with a long white stuccoed building with red tiled roofs and a towering chimney at its entrance. There are a number of structures, including a chapel, and handsome old warehouses with landscaped areas surrounding them.
The constructions here, like the compound itself are monumental. A long tiled arcaded wall topped with worm like sculptures encloses a lawn bisected by a straight path. Beneath each arch is a glazed tile panel depicting a menagerie of creatures.
The wall is beautifully detailed with plain and relief tiles. Phallic heads protrude from gear wheel like shapes above each arch, blending the industrial with the natural and profane.
Pelican like birds on accordian bodies stand on pedastles framed in aqua tiles with open mouthed snakes centered in the arches between them. It appears that the surrealist movement in Europe had a strong influence on Brennand's work.
|A tile panel depicting Mãe Terrà, Mother Earth|
Chess man like characters stand like markers in the dramatically architectural space. The scale of this beautifully detailed wall is astonishing and rich with meaning.
|Ligia, a strong, seductive woman in Latin culture|
|Hatching eggs centered on plinths symbolize birth|
|Ceramic tusks protrude above arches of the shrine to creation|
|Erotic figures tell a story of life, sex, and fertility|
Prominently placed in contrast to the Biblical characters, Venus, depicted as a pair of legs wearing black pointed slippers, lies on her back like an exotic dancer, decapitated at the waist, with a prominent pink vagina and a tongue protruding from one hip, reminding me of the tongues on Renaldo Eckenberger's little sculptures back in Salvador.
|A cornucopia of sexualized busts and eggs ornament a pool and fountains|
The arcaded wall holds your attention as you approach, and the plaza and pool provide a threshold to the old factory buildings, which holds a vast collection of over 2,000 ceramic and mixed media sculptures.
|Strange vaginal creatures emerging from the pond|
|Delicately disected foliage and a nicely detailed pathway flank the studio|
The open layout and simplicity of the interior, punctuated with symmetrical arches houses a gallery of ceramic forms on simple white evenly spaced plinths. Larger more significant works are sited in the center under the handsome dark trusses of the roof. There is a lot here, showcasing a productive artistic life. The works are prominently titled and signed and dated.
|The former factory converted in to a beautiful gallery, open to the outdoors through a series of arches|
|Caligula and what looks like an ice cream cone share a pedastle in the gallery|
A fair amount of fetish is expressed in the designs, that seems to combine industrial motifs with sexual themes.
I found this interesting trailer for a film about Brennand, in Portuguese of course.
It gives you a glimpse of the artist at different times in his life. It seems the Oficina was a life unto itself, reclusive and all encompassing, a fantasy existence in the jungle, detached from the city a mere 11 miles away.
|Front and back views|
|Artisans working in the Brennand workshop|
|Dick Heads ;-)|
|A modern Venus de Milo|
A sunken section of the floor is also tiled in a mandala like design. The galleries double as a showroom, displaying the potential use for the tiles and objects that are made to sell.
|A tiled floor in the Gallery|
|Its interesting to see the date of when the work was done so prominently featured.|
http://www.brennand.com.br. The menu is in Portugeuse but its not hard to navigate, and well worth doing. In addition to several lines of tile, there are gorgeous dishes and decorative objects, including ash trays! Click on Revestimentos Cerâmicos to see tile, and Objetos Utilitários for decorative ceramics. It would be a luxury to work with such materials.
|This piece has an explosive energy to it, perhaps a metaphore for drive to create.|
|The symbol for the Brennand brand with abundantly laden ceramic fruit bowls|
|Everything is ceramic|
|Carambola, or Star Fruit used as a garnish in a delicious Batido, or fruit smoothie|
|An anthropomorphic segmented worm wearing work boots|
|I tile mosaics inspired by Pietra Dura designs on the Taj Mahal covers a concrete retaining wall|
The water in the pool engeniously flows in to the open mouths of two fish rising to the surface.
This grouping of figures is remeniscent of chessmen in a societal game of the class system and levels of control.
A wonderful fountain of spouting serpents surrounds a columner fertility goddess in a round, walled pool.
|A Fertility Goddess surrounded by 12 spouting serpents|
|Spouting snakes are a wonderful thing to behold.|
In the year 2000 the Praça Burle Marx was constructed using a design that was gifted to Brennand by his friend, the great Brazilian landscape architect and horticulturalist Roberto Burle Marx. On occassion Brennand constructed works for designs implimented by Burle Marx, who also worked with ceramics and created iconic murals for various garden installations. On my two previous trips to Brazil I spent a fair amount of time visiting and studying gardens designed by this visionary man. You can read about it here: https://jeffreygardens.blogspot.com/2011/10/gardens-of-roberto-burle-marx.html
|Praça Burle Marx, a composition of shapes, colors, and textures punctuated with sculpture|
|A surreal tiled wall forms the backdrop for a pool with fountains and sculpture|
|A full view of the tiled wall|
|Sanseveria rise like a bed of tongues by the pool|
|A Fertility Goddess and spouting phallic tusk like fountains ornament the pool, with the added grace of black swans|
|Red Iresine is clipped to create a bold circle of blood red color|
|Everywhere there is sculpture|
|Spouts that look like turtle heads spill water in to a trough along a driveway|
|Nephrolepis exaltata is a tenacious fern that grows over an enormous range, from South America to Africa|
|Burle Marx plans were abstract paintings and plants are frequently used as paint would be|
|Sanseveria makes a wonderful pattern in front of a tile wall|
|Even the parking is elegant|
|A stark tableau addressing the conquering of indigenous cultures by Europeans|
|Bust of Atahualpa, behind bars|
|Drooling open mouthed faces punctuate the top of a wall|
|A twisted column tells a story of man interacting with nature|
|A dragon with a rattlesnake tail emerges from a lawn|
|A starkly contemporary structure mirrors architectural elements found in the many older structures at the Oficina|
|A pearalescent glazed orb banded with spikes|
|The 32 meter tall Torre de Cristal is part of a sculpture park populated by 90 works created by Francisco Brennand. They are displayed on a jetty, commemorating the 500 year anniversary of the arrival of Europeans in Recife|
|Spaces are structured and framed by straight lines|
|Sphinx like busts line a wide paved axis that terminates at an column on a tiered pedastal at the edge of the forest|
|And then along came Adão, Adam|
|A shallow lake emerging from the forest along the road walking out|
When it was time to leave, I found a man sleeping in the only taxi in the otherwise empty but attractive parking lot. But he was waiting for people he had brought there, so I had to walk back to the bus stop. It was an opportunity to distill the world that had just been revealed to me. Little Red Riding Hood walking alone in the forest. If we are the creators of our own personal universe, mine had just expanded in to new frontiers. Its the main reason I travel every winter, to step outside the bubble of life at home and explore inspiring new realms. To step in to the world manifested by this artistic genius was a earthtone jewel in the necklace that is the path of my life.
|The one sculpture I sketched in my journal|
|No prizes from the Art Salon for me|
Thanks for reading, Jeffrey