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Majestic Simplicity: The Naive Art of Argentina and Brazil




"Majestic Simplicity" , includes newly-acquired artworks of more than 30 artists from Brazil and Argentina. 

Not surprisingly, the naïve art of these countries features all of the elements that characterize the genre: heartwarming colors and punctilious detail; childlike perspective and scale; refreshingly-innocent, easily-understandable, idealized scenes of everyday life; and all accomplished by a self-taught artist seeking to celebrate the human narrative.

The latter characteristic, however, by highlighting the contrasting cultures, traditions and histories of the various countries, results in artworks with remarkably different subjects and styles. In Brazil, the naïve movement appeared at the end of the 1940's with the first exhibitions of Silvia de Leon Chalreo and Jose Antonio da Silva, and with the invitation to the naïve artist, Heitor dos Prazeres, to participate in the first Biennale of Sao Paulo. The probable explanation for the late emergence of Brazilian naïve art is grounded in history. While the Frenchmen, Henri Rousseau, Andre Bauchant and Camille Bombois, and the Americans, Edward Hicks and “Grandma” Moses, to name but a few (albeit the best known), were already “presence obligee” in important museums in the world, the works of the Brazilian naïve “pioneers” were being painted in outlying regions of the country and were discovered quite late. Therefore, the dawn of Brazilian naïve art came only during the second half of the 20th century. Brazilian naïve art is epitomized by enormous contrasts, which arise, in the main, from the intermingling within the large country of many different cultures – such as European, African and Indian – from all over the world. This mixture provides a fertile ground for budding artists of great originality. Brazilians are naturally happy, spontaneous and creative, and are uninhibited in expressing their emotions, and these traits, along with all of the youthful dynamism of the original movement, are still being reflected in the naïve artworks produced today.

The naïvism of Argentina defies simple categorization. The country’s native customs and traditions have never had the dramatic impact upon the local naïve artists as the Incan, Mayan, Aztec and African cultures have had on their fellow artists to the north. Instead, the waves of immigration to Argentina – in particular from Europe – during the past two centuries, and the resultant melding of European and other customs and traditions with those of the indigenous population, have had a major impact upon the life, character and morés of the people, as well as upon the country’s art, architecture, music and literature. These influences are seen, quite clearly, in the works of the Argentine naïves, which depict, in heartwarming colors and detail, the resonance of the city (particularly Buenos Aires, “the Paris of South America”), the beat of the tango, the pulse of the pampas, the swagger of the gauchos and the silent beauty of Patagonia.

Naïve Art, a timeless genre, celebrates the human narrative and - in contrast to the frenetic pressures of the outside world - radiates joy, serenity, peace and tranquility. We are at the dawning of the Age of Naïvism, a genre whose time has come.

Take the World Home with You!


Ascending from Iruya to San Isidro
An Afternoon of Love
Life by the River
The School Boat
A Path in the Forest


Dan Chill, GINA – Gallery of International Naïve Art
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