GERALDO DE BARROS
(Chavantes, Brasil, in 1923— São Paulo, 1998)
Gerlaldo de Barros started his artistic career with the paint but his restless spirit drive him to play with all
the different artistic paths, becoming a multifaceted artist in the Brazilian scene. His achievements were
earned by his greatest virtue; the photography, becoming one of the pioneers of the abstract photography and also the main exponent of the Concretism in the Brazilian Avant-garde.
He started his paint studies in 1945 with a collective of painters from Sao Paulo, like Yoshiya Takaoka or Clóvis Graciano. Due to the influences of the Paulists collective, he develops his firsts paintings based on the figurative art. However, Gerlaldo started very early his magnet for the abstraction.
The boom of the abstraction and the different avant-gardes, for instance the Constructivism with the ground-breaking suggestion of the space and the Supremacism with the new semantic charge of the geometric shapes, both were strong influences to Geraldo’s inspiration. This new pictorial vocabulary and their main dealers; Mondrian, Kandinsky or Paul
Klee was the final provocation for the new artistic direction of De Barros.
In 1946, Gerlaldo started to research in the photography, but no in an ordinary way, at all. Since his first contact with the camera he started with experimental techniques of shooting. During this period Geraldo got in touch with photography collective in Europe with artist like Man Ray. This contact enhanced his visual touch helping exploring all the possibilities of the camera. Therefore, he started to visit the Photo- cinema club with, where met the different photographers like German Lorca o Thomar Farkas. After this chance meeting in 1950, they decide to create together a photography Lab for their experimentations with the camera. Geraldo obtained a very unique touch in his photography. His pictures are conformed by tiny parts that together make a spontaneous jiggle, that thought the human composition of Geraldo suggest the unmanageable lost of the temporal sense. Is with this destruction and overexposure,
where their images became too enigmatic to understand and too creepy to not feel nothing. In all the pictures we can find the concept that was always disturbing him: the relation of the society with art.
His pictures are interconnected on the limit of the experimental, but prosaic and coherent in essence. His art is the proof that Gerlaldo De Barros has never being conform with the status quo, seeking in all the artistic areas a way to break the dogma. From his restless driving force, he jumps from the photography to the design, always connecting his human need and the artistic truth. All his works go together with the social and political issues of his historical and
beyond. He dedicated part of his live to community projects and artistic associations like Grupo 15, Galería Rex, Hobjeto, and UNILABOR. This last one was one of the most relevant design projects in Latino America.
UNILABOR started in 1945, like a religious community with the Dominican fray Joao Baptist Pereira, in Sao Paolo, with the purpose to conform a working- community. UNILABOR was created to change the abusive conditions of the Brazilians factories and eliminate the daily alienation of the work. Furthermore, when De Barros joins the collective he adds the esthetic sense and the design as basics values for the development of UNILABOR.
During the firsts years of life of UNILABOR the sales where focused to friends and families, the material and production was very expensive. However, the profits of UNILABOR were destined for the salaries. In 1958, UNILABOR change his proposal based on the artisan work to go a step further to a huge production system, with a new model called Standard UL- Unilabor, with the aim to increase the commercial offer with different furniture models.
In 1967 UNILABOR finished, taking an honoured place in the history if intellectual and design thinking in the history of modernity. UNILABOR could be real thanks to the enthusiasm and the faith of the collective, also because of the circumstances, but its necessary to highlight in the history of this community the human factor. UNILABOR could exist due to the spirit of the members who were brave enough to take part and carried out thus utopia.
Furthermore the tangible heritage and esthetic experience that we could find in every piece of furniture of UNILABOR, beyond this materialistic beauty, we found out the humanist speech, that’s the worth that will survive forever. The radical idea of a equal working community, rooted on the intellectual basis and the most pure creation, this intangible values that human always purchase, will live in the time and in the history.