Gustavo Nazareno-Fables on Exu: London
Curated by Deri Andrade
Gallery 1957, London are pleased to present Fables on Exu, its first solo exhibition by Afro Brazilian artist
Gustavo Nazareno (b.1994), curated by Deri Andrade.
Fables on Exu builds on the artist’s interest in Orixá (deity) Exu and in religions of African origin
in Brazil, a recurring theme in his works.
Exu is the divinity of African religions who opens the paths. A central character in Nazareno's poetic narrative, the orisha is the great messenger of Yoruba mythology. The guardian of spaces, he is also the mediator between the earthly and the spiritual realms.
Produced in a state of meditation and prayer, the symbolic oil paintings featured in the show depict a triumphant Exu - the opposite of his usual negative representation perpetuated by colonialism. He is swathed in a plot of beauty, sensuality and mystery, whether due to the subtlety of the shape of the artist’s strokes, or the opaque contrast of the backgrounds in intense hues.
Shadows, contrasts, contours and neutral tones are painstakingly composed in this body of work.
Just as duality is recurrent character of Exu, light and dark, night and day, clarity and shadow, human and shapeshifting, male and female, or the fusion of these dualities, make up the visual narrative of these drawings.
The black figure depicted by Nazareno arises from the crossroad between the African Diaspora and the pantheon of Yoruba orishas in the Afro-Brazilian Candomblé and Umbanda religions.
In the artist’s vision and interpretation, Exu is a hybrid deity, a dynamic force between divine and
human that symbolizes black culture. Unbridled, he is the very potency of life, a catalyst for change and allegory of beauty, sensibility, and accomplishment.
Eshu - Yoruba: also spelled, Eshu, Èṣù, and Echú