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First solo exhibition in the UK by the late Mario Cravo Neto opens at Autograph ABP
Mario Cravo Neto, Laróyè, 1980-2000. © Instituto Mario Cravo Neto / Instituto Moreira Salles

LONDON.- Autograph ABP presents A Serene Expectation of Light, the first solo exhibition in the UK by the late Mario Cravo Neto (b. 1947 – d. 2009).

One of the most important and influential contemporary Brazilian photographers, Cravo Neto originally trained as a sculptor and only took up photography seriously after a car accident in 1975 left him bedridden for a year. Throughout his photographic career, Cravo Neto was fascinated by the complex cultural heritage of Bahia in the northeast of Brazil, the point of entry for millions of African slaves between the 16th and 19th century. His imagery is deeply steeped in the religion of Candomblé - an Afro-Brazilian form of worship practiced by Cravo Neto – which finds its origins in traditional West African Yoruba culture.

‘My idea from now on is to develop that transition between the inert object and the sacred object. It is simply a religious position in photography that I wish to adopt.’ -Mario Cravo Neto

The exhibition comprises two series of photographs: twenty black and white studio portraits from The Eternal Now seriesproduced during the 1980s and 1990s, and twenty colour prints from the Laróyè series produced in the 2000s, during the latter part of his career before his untimely death in 2009.

The large-scale blackand white photographs are characterised by the use of inanimate objects and animals in conjunction with human bodies, giving the images a sculptural and tactile quality reminiscent of European still life paintings from the 17th and 18th century, with symbolic meanings derived from Candomblé. In contrast, Cravo Neto’s later colour works depict urban life in Salvador. Rather than provide a documentary account of the city and its people, Cravo Neto pays homage to Èsù, a trickster divinity and overseer of the cross roads between the material and spiritual world.

The exhibition is the outcome of a dialogue between the artist and Mark Sealy MBE, Director of Autograph ABP, which began in 1992 at Houston FotoFest, Texas.

Mario Cravo Neto: A Serene Expectation of Light is curated by Mark Sealy MBE at Autograph ABP, in collaboration with guest curator Gabriela Salgado.

Mario Cravo Neto was introducedtosculpture and photographybyhisfather, thesculptor Mario Cravo Jùnior. In1968 he enrolled at theArt Student League in NewYork, where he studiedfor two years. In1970 hereturnedto Bahia, where he lived and worked until his untimelydeath in 2009.Cravo Neto’s work has been exhibited internationally, including five times during theSão Paulo Biennial (1971, 1973, 1975, 1977 and1983), the Museo de Arte de São Paulo (1979and 1983), HoustonFotoFest (1992), theMuseum of Photographic Art in San Diego (1994), Museum fur Photographie Braunschweig (1996), the Fotomuseo in Bogotá (2005) and Rencontresd’Arles, France(2005). His work is represented innumerous collections, including theMuseum of Modern Art in NewYork, TheMuseum of Fine Arts in Houston,The Museum of Photographic Arts in San Diego, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, FoMu in Antwerp, Museu de Arte deSão Paulo - São Paulo and theFondation Cartier inParis. Cravo Neto hasseveral publications tohis name, including The Eternal Now (Áries Editora, 2002) andLARÓYÈ (Áries Editora, 2000).

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