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Antonio Bandeira (Brazilian 1922-1967)
Antonio Bandeira (Brazilian 1922-1967)

Blue Streets

Details
Antonio Bandeira (Brazilian 1922-1967)
Blue Streets
signed and dated 'BANDEIRA, 55' (lower right) signed and dated again, titled and inscribed 'ANTONIO BANDEIRA, 1955, BLUE STREETS, LONDON' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
26 x 22 in. (66 x 60 cm.)
Painted in London in 1955.
Provenance
Belsize Gallery, London.
Private collection, London (acquired circa early 1960's).
George White collection, London (by descent from the above).

Lot Essay

In many ways the postwar era marked the internationalization of abstraction as a global art movement or aesthetic. This was certainly true in Brazil where artists gravitated between a decidedly rigorous or geometric aesthetic (i.e., concretism and neo-concretism) to those that adopted a more intuitive approach by exploring aspects of Informalism and abstract expressionism. The Fortaleza-born painter Antonio Bandeira began his trajectory as a figurative artist but upon traveling to Paris in the mid-1940s soon became an adherent of French Tachisme or informal abstraction most notably through his close contact with the German painter Alfred Otto Wolfgand Schultz (aka Wols) and the Frenchman Camille Bryen. The three artists integrated the loosely-formed Banbryols (a play on their three last names). The short lived collective would become one of the leading groups to represent European lyrical abstraction. And, although Bandeira returned to Brazil briefly in 1950 he continued to travel frequently and by the mid-1950s his career had taken on a truly international character with exhibitions in Paris, Brazil, London, and New York including participation in the newly founded São Paulo Biennial (in 1953, 1955 and 1959) and the Venice Biennial.
Painted in 1955 while in London, it is quite likely that Blue Streets was part of the artist's exhibition at the prestigious Obelisk Gallery held that same year. Painted against a rich sky blue background with zigzag-like accents of black, white, red and yellow the effects imbue the composition with a kaleidoscopic effect. Bandeira's thickly painted layered surfaces recall landscapes or topographies painted from an almost bird's eye perspective that suggests dense expanses of trees, bustling cities, or brightly lit nocturnal scapes. The title in this case provides clues as to Bandeira's source--the urban streets (perhaps of London) brimming with energy rendered from above as a rhythmic pattern of interlacing lines and painterly patches or stains that function like an abstract register of an objective reality--a reality that is at once evanescent yet concrete. Bandeira's pictorial surfaces are replete with a sense of urgency and intensity that is best summed up by the following artist quote, "The only thing I can say is that I keep on painting to stay alive, and since I love life intensely, and I want to stay alive, I keep on painting."[1]

1) As quoted in Antonio Bandeira and Walmir Ayala, "Excerpts of Published Texts-Memoir" in Max Perlingeiro, Antonio Bandeira (1922-1967). Rio de Janeiro: Pinakotheke, 2006, 98.

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