Gustavo Nazareno Brazil, b. 1994

Overview

Gustavo Nazareno is a self-taught visual artist focusing his practice on charcoal and oil on canvas. Nazareno's poetic narrative is strongly inspired by religions and mythology of the African diaspora - Canbomblé and Umbanda in particular- from which he borrows Yoruba orishas and other deities that become protagonists in his artistic investigation of the human figure. Nazareno’s imaginary Gods are hybrid figures traversing age and gender by resisting any fixed designation. Their majestic dresses and ostentatious make-up add a sense of contemporaneity to the Caravaggesque chiaroscuro that dominates every painting. This dramatic use of lighting is achieved by the development over the years of a unique painting and drawing technique where the artist applies charcoal dust with his fingertips on paper, in a dark studio lit by only candlelight. The multitude of anatomical poses of Nazareno’s characters is contrasted with their recurrent piercing gaze looking out and engaging with the viewer as an act of sensual and provocative defiance.

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Biography

Gustavo Nazareno (b. 1994, Minas Gerais, Brazil) is a self-taught artist living and practising in São Paulo, Brazil. His practice is spiritual and strongly influenced by one of the Afro-Brazilian religions: Umbanda (a mix of African traditions, Catholocisim and Indigenous South American practices). His career as an artist started in 2018 when he was ordered the 'Pai de Santo' (the spiritual father), to make seven pictures of the male Orixás (deities). Nazareno applies charcoal dust to paper or oil on canvas with his fingertips, creating a sumptuous and remarquable visual narrative, and resulting in highly realistic paintings in masterful
chiaroscuro. In his figurative paintings, Nazareno is portraying his characters wearing haute couture clothing influenced by fashion and fine art photography by the likes of Irving Penn or Herb Ritts.

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