FREIRE PHOTOGRAPHIC exhibition
PARIS 27 MARCH to 6 JUNE 2001 "TOUT DOIT
TEM QUE VIR VERINHA, DEIXE SEU MUTTON PET IN LONDON E VENHA
AS FRONTEIRAS SO ESTÃO FECHADAS PARA CABRITOS, CABRAS
E CARNEIROS, QUE EU SAIBA VOCÊ NÃO ESTA NA LISTA.
ESTAMOS TE ESPERANDO....
I told Carlos I didn't know whether I could go to Paris to his Vernissage
because of the foot-and-mouth disease (the epidemic in the UK that
is destroying the farmland and countryside tourism). I was afraid
they may closed the frontier between England and France he answered
with this sweet and amazing e-mail, saying " you have to come
because the borders between the two countries are closed for young
and adult goats and sheep but, as far as I know, YOU ARE NOT ON
He is one of
the world's greatest photographer but he also has a huge sense of
humour which I love. When I read the above message I had a good
laugh.Together with his wife Heloisa Novaes, I find them a most
jovial and energetic couple who are really pleasant and worthwhile
friends. So I decided to get the Eurostar in this wet and cold English
Spring only to find it raining in Paris! And some parts of France
still having floods as I had seen in the newspapers.
I have know
Carlos Freire since our teens in Rio de Janeiro and he spend his
childhood playing football in the street of Rio in a district called
"Saude"(Health). I think this experience of street life
- this open freedom - is what has made him such a kind and giving
person, human and genial yet such a formidable photographer!
When I came
to live in London at the end of the '60s, although he was living
in Paris we did not lose contact. In fact, I met him when he came
to London with another Brazilian photographer to take photos of
John Lennon and Yoko Ono. They gave me a set of slides (where John
and Yoko were wearing whitesuits) - which I still have today.
So I went to
Carlos' exhibition on 27 March 2001 featuring his universal achievements,
he is an extremely creative photographer.Previously I had seen his
exhibition "L'Esprit des Liex" at the Espace AGP in December
The catalogue for that exhibition had the most incredible photo
of Congonha do Campo-Brazil, the light giving the sense of time's
eternity. The exhibition also featured photos of Venice and every
other place where Carlos has
been.It was to celebrate the Bicentenary of the French Revolution
and 150th Anniversary of Photography.
I have also
been to Naples twice for Carlos' exhibitions. The exhibition in
1992 was called "Naples, Royaume du Peuple". However,
the first exhibition was one of portraits of intellectual, cultural
people from all over the world, I personally think portrait is his
forte, it was at Inst.
Grenoble-Via Crispi. The 1992 exhibition was about Naples at Villa
Pignatelli. It was the first time I could walk in the streets of
Naples without worry as Carlos accompanied me. Because of the work
he was doing in the city, he and those with him gained great respect.
So he could walk anywhere take whatever photos he wanted.
I remember him at a stall where he ate some tripe (uncooked belly
of sheep). It was considered a delicacy! In England - not so much
nowadays - but years ago tripe and onions was a delicacy among the
London Cockneys the music-hall star Albert Chevalier sang a song
about Cockney food and some lines mentioned tripe and onions). It
was also popular in the North of England.So the stall-holder cut
a piece of tripe, put some lemon on it, and Carlos devoured it with
great joy. The stall-holder was very happy that such a famous man
was enjoying his tripe! Carlos tried to make me eat some but I said
"Are you crazy?" I was horrified!
We walked around and he introduced me to various people. He also
took me to an amazing bookshop which had a library specialising
in magic with artefacts,'devil' sculptures and fortune-telling cards,
skulls. The people of Naples seem to be obsessed with death and
devil. I was fascinated.
By coincidence in 1992 in Naples an artist, Pignon-Ernest a mural
painter was in Naples, he did Pucinella, skulls, charms to ward
off bad luck, the people of Naples are very superstitious. He painted
them in his studio but, at night, would go around the city pasting
them onto walls.
There is one street (SpaccaNapoli) sells purely Nativity scenes,
sculpted in all sizes. One shop intrigued me - it was a stationers
selling pens - but if you needed anything you had to hunt among
his stock all on the floor, all piled up. I went into the shop with
Carlos, Giuseppe and Silvia Palombi, editor of the Naples exhibition
catalogue Charta from Milan.They bought two painting by the brother
of the Parliamentary Deputy Onorevole De Mita, a very powerful man
at that time. I was speechless at finding such painting in such
course, was staying at an Hotel in the heart of Naples' "Kingdom
of the People" , he was actually living with the people as
well as photographing them, as he always does when doing his work
in order to capture the true atmosphere of the place. When Heloisa
Novaes, his wife and an artist, came for the vernissage of the Naples
exhibition we went for the best pizza in the world as well as the
best coffee - no doubt about that! He took me to the Church of Saint
Janvier, (San Genaro), the patron Saint of Naples where his statue
is said - at certain time of the year - to cry blood. I remember
a girl on a motorcycle giving as much gas as possible and lifting
in the air the front wheel, a familiar sight in Naples, Carlos said
"she thinks she's riding a horse." In this current Paris
exhibition he has a section on Naples which reminds me of our time
there. The Naples exhibition also went to Paris and Rio de Janeiro.
His most important
exhibition of the last few years took place in 1996 in Paris called
"Regards de Francis Bacon", featured photos of Francis
Bacon taken in 1977, kept for 20 years and never before shown in
was called "Marguerite Youcenar, le Denier Voyage", of
photos taken in Paris, London and I'Ile du Mont Desert, in 1989
at Centre Pompidou.
exhibition was "Lumiere de L'Inde", magnificent photos
of India. You really get the atmosphere of the beauty of the people,
from this series he choose one picture to feature on the cover of
this current exhibition's catalogue: a portrait of a beautiful but
important (they are all important), exhibition was "Alexandrie
'Egyptienne" in 1998 at the Musee du Petit Palais; a huge success
of both public and critic. To realise this exhibition he took 10
years working and living in Alexandria in Egypt. This exhibition
takes you through Alexandria and includes photos of his friends
there. My favourite photo of this exhibition is of the "Hotel
du Nil", a closed door which seems as if has been closed for
a very long time, a sense of abandonment which seems to pervade
Alexandria's buildings in spite of the many people that live there.
You have to think you are walking "in the steps of..."
and almost that Cleopatra just might turn up round one corner; an
incredible country with an history and culture that Carlos through
his magical photos has managed to portray - a sense of "time
stops still". He gives us the opportunity to walk in his footsteps
the current Paris exhibition "TOUT DOIT DISPARAITRE",
you can see nearly his lifetime's work from all over the world.
There were also pictures of the new work he is doing about Monte
Athos in Greece, that will be made into a book and an exhibition
in the future.
The text of
the catalogue's introduction by Alain Jouffroy , is about his friendship
with Carlos and the emotional way in which Carlos approaches his
subjects.The catalogue is beautiful produced and printed. Carlos
told me he was very happy, was exactly what he wanted!!!
The part of
this exhibition dedicated to Brazil fascinated me. Carlos used to
have a book shop in Ipanema Theatre, where Glauber Rocha, the film
director, Anecy his sister, D. Lucia their mother lived on the top
All the intellectual figures used to congregate there. Some of this
people were featured in the Brazilian part of the exhibition. Antonio
Dias, painter a friend in common and the touching photo of Glauber
was a great success at the Maison de l'Amerique Latine, 217 Boulevard
Saint- Gercontent, (www.mal217.org) a rather wonderful place in
the heart of Paris. All his friends from all over the world were
there, diplomatic, political, cultural figures of France and Latin-America,
celebrity and a dog, gathered together for the vernissage of this
huge exhibition of 150 photos on two floors. The most important
person present at this vernissage was, of course, ME and the President
of Musee du Louvre.
Amongst all this mix of people I met a beautiful charming Argentinean
singer. Valeria Munarez told me she started in Argentina as an opera-singer
but made her career in Paris with Tango and Bolero, she was thinking
of buying a portrait by Carlos Freire of Jorge Luis Borges,the Argentinean
writer, as she had recorded a work of Borges. They were talking
in French, English, Portuguese, Italian, Greek, Spanish; the same
person could change from one language to the other without a problem
as did Carlos and Heloisa.
What a cosmopolite people!!!!
the catalogues and gave them to his friends, books,photos,poster.
A few months ago Carlos gave me the photo he took of Orson Welles-Paris-1982.
It is, of course, my favourite and I was very emotional at being
given such a lovely magnificent work!!!
The dinner after
the exhibition was a delightful social, cultural event - the event
of the year! The meal was superb, an entree of king prawns and salmon.
The content course was chicken with rice followed by a perfect sweet
of pear tart topped with nuts. The red wine was the best - French
of course! I ended up sitting with the ex-French Ambassador to Brazil
and his wife who spoke very good Portuguese. They were completely
in love with Brazil, their son was born in Rio in a district called
Botafogo. They were very close to Aloisio Magalhaes, a Brazilian
figure. I could tell they really missed him and Brazil. I liked
them so much that I have invited them to be my guests in Rio. When
they left Carlos took me to another diplomatic table, where I met
a Peruvian who was destined to became a Government Minister. He
was continually drinking red wine, hardly spoke, just nodded at
appropriate points but he did have a very nice expression.
Then to my delight, to the table came a very cool poet, Francois
Cheng, the translator of Proust into Chinese. I, as well as everyone
else, was hanging on to his every word, all agreeing with his impressions
of the exhibition. Francois was saying how the actual positioning
of the rooms made everything perfect - they enable one to get the
atmosphere of each section work. Carlos was receiving compliments
from everybody. Then we moved to Heloisa's table (I particularly
liked the way she looked; she had a very glamorous pink-silk top
on, a very charming Lady).
a French poet, stood up and read a poem from the book of Francois
Cheng. everyone was filled with emotion, clapping at the end. Francois,
recited a poem dedicated to Carlos; more claps, wine.
Jouffroy, was a friend of Andre Breton, finished up talking to me
- can you imagine, one of the last of the Surrealist talking to
me!!!! Much to my joy he said "you are a belle femme"
and kissed me, held me around the waist, repeating again "you
are a beautiful woman". I love the way French are such gallant
seducers of woman but, in his case, his wife was present. I know
he had a lot to drink but he made my day! I felt incredible happy.
I did not argue with him, I felt great , I was disappointed that
my platonic gentleman with the fantastic bushy eyebrows didn't come
that moment Heloisa took great care of making myself comfortable
in bed at their flat. What a great brilliant day - full of emotion,
splendid photos, being hugged, charmed by poets - I felt blessed
by being in their company!!!
to anyone this exhibition, almost a history of this GREAT "Parisian-Brazilian":
a citizen of the world.