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Marcos Amaro, the polymath of the Brazilian art world

Author: Marc Pottier, Art Curator based in Rio de Janeiro
Article published on March 4th, 2021

Polymath, ubiquitous, a juggler… we could have fun for a long time trying to catalog the unclassifiable, Marcos Amaro is an artist, collector, businessman in the field of aviation (no doubt why he knows so well how to make acrobatic loops in life?), gallery owner (Brazil and Switzerland) and, what particularly interests us today, the President and founder of FAMA Museum e Campo.

Education as a challenge

Costura Abertas, Fabrica de Arte Marcos Amaro. Itu, Brazil, 2021 Credits : Camilla Jan. FAMA Museum

 

When he is asked for his ‘statement’? It is passion, of course, that this young man born in 1984 in São Paulo speaks of, who is always with a smile on his face and treats everyone in an extremely polite manner. But if passion is self-evident, his project is in fact mostly about education, transmission. This is important in a country that thirsts for a cultural policy, unfortunately neglected by the government. So rather than whine and wait for God knows what, Marcos Amaro took the reins in his own way and created one of the most beautiful art projects in Brazil. This project resembles him. With him you have to think big and, with this false calm, go fast. When asked how he manages to manage this ‘obese’ life, he answers straight in the eyes that he has set up several specialized and competent teams for this purpose. That’s it! Another question?

From the workshop to a large-scale cultural project

Galpao das Fardas, Fabrica de Arte Marcos Amaro. Itu, Brazil, 2021 Credits : Camilla Jan. FAMA Museum

 

It is in the small town of Itu, about 100 km or an hour and a half by car from the megalopolis of São Paulo, that the adventure began in 2015 when Marcos Amaro set up his artist’s studio in one of the hangars of the disused textile factory, the Fabrica São Pedro, which was built in the early 1920s. For an artist who, among many other works, brings back to life salvaged items, especially aircraft debris, space was needed. But the bubbling Marcos Amaro, in constant dialogue with artists, private collectors, gallery owners and curators from the main cultural institutions, quickly realized the power of the spaces in this factory for a future place dedicated to art. Barely three years after his installation, he bought the place (which reminds him of his childhood with his mother who is a women’s fashion designer) and opened FAMA Museu, (Fabrica de Arte Marcos Amaro, Marcos Amaro Art Factory) in June 2018. Today the project is called FAMA Museu e Campo because in November 2019 an aisle of the museum was added 30 kilometers away in the region of Mairinque to promote land art interventions in the landscape.

A dynamic and uninterrupted construction site

Fabrica de Arte Marcos Amaro. Itu, Brazil, 2021 Credits : Camilla Jan. FAMA Museum

 

You will have understood it FAMA, it is a little like Marcos Amaro, it is not easy to define in a word. The 25 thousand square meters of the place have many sheds. Little by little (but at an incredible rate, so that there is always something new when you come back), they are restored and transformed into exhibition halls, now nine in number, not to mention the technical reserves, offices, gastronomic space and a reception-store. But the construction site continues and the immediate prospects are to open soon a concert hall (his Moscow wife Ksenia Kogan is a great professional pianist), a boutique-hotel to be able to receive on the spot many personalities from the art world, an artist’s residence… without forgetting his workshop and of course without counting what else he will be able to imagine in the next five minutes…

The collection

Ontologias, Fabrica de Arte Marcos Amaro. Itu, Brazil, 2021 Credits : Camilla Jan. FAMA Museum

 

FAMA now houses the Foundation of the Association for the Future Marcos Amaro as well as its collection. Here too, hang on! The first work was purchased in 2008. It is « Menino com carneiro (Child with a Ram) » by Candido Portinari (1903-1962), one of the most important Brazilian artists in the neo-realist movement, which he bought for the birth of Pedro, his first son. At the time of writing this article, the collection now includes more than 2,000 works, ranging from the most classic, such as a magnificent sculpture of a processional Saint (santo de roca), by Aleijadinho (1738-1814), the great baroque artist from Minas Gerais, to the artists of the French Mission of the 19th century, to the most contemporary artists such as Cildo Meireles, Henrique Oliveira, Nuno Ramos, Tunga… Foreigners are not forgotten such as Torres-Garcia, the Portuguese Pedro Cabrita Reis and Joana Vasconcelos without forgetting a beautiful set of watercolors by Louise Bourgeois. Numerous sculptures come to give rhythm to the outside spaces of FAMA. Impossible to mention everything in this high quality ensemble where the heart is the driving force behind the selection.

A unique set of 203 drawings from Tarsila do Amaral, unique in the world

Tarsila do Amaral, Fabrica de Arte Marcos Amaro. Itu, Brazil, 2021 Credits : Camilla Jan. FAMA Museum

 

This year’s opening of a spectacular room dedicated to a unique set of 203 drawings by the iconic Brazilian artist Tarsila de Amaral (1886-1973), which have not been shown for 50 years and, after restoration, have just been added to the collection. Produced between 1910 and 1940, the works allow visitors to discover the different phases of the artist’s life and present recurring themes in his work. There are views from his travels in Brazil showing the bucolic historic cities of Minas Gerais. The public can also discover his vision of Europe, passing through the Egyptian desert. Studies and sketches of future works, urban or rural landscapes, travel diaries, ballet costumes, sketches of book illustrations, interior scenes after the 1940’s, figurative and abstract drawings up to a preparatory drawing of the famous iconic work Antropofagia (Anthropophagy) from 1929 represent this incredible ensemble which alone is worth a visit to FAMA.

Projects inside and outside

Rodrigo Sassi, Fabrica de Arte Marcos Amaro. Itu, Brazil, 2021 Credits : Camilla Jan. FAMA Museum

 

Conceived for the production, contemplation and promotion of art, FAMA is a tool for the diffusion of contemporary art. Its mission: To preserve and promote the memory and experience of contemporary art in Itu and the region. Its vision: To transform the São Pedro factory into a sustainable territory of art and culture. The 80.000 students of the region are targeted as a priority! The old textile factory continues to live on, but has now become a laboratory for contemporary creation where, among other things, temporary exhibitions are concocted. It is home to the annual Marcos Amaro Art Award for a Brazilian or foreign artist, the ArtYou data base, an award born in 2017, in partnership with the SP-Arte art fair, and an Occupation project that takes place every two years and aims to receive projects from artists and collectives active in the field of visual art. But of course Marcos could not stop there and a space at the Itu shopping center has just been opened responding to the sculpture exhibitions in the streets of the city… Marcos is generous and wants to break the codes.

Onde o céu encontra-se com o chão e o ar com a terra – Where the sky meets the ground and the air meets the earth

Jardim Dona Helena. Fabrica de Arte Marcos Amaro. Itu, Brazil, 2021 Credits : Camilla Jan. FAMA Museum

 

Inspired by the artistic current of the 1960s « land art », Fábrica de Arte Marcos Amaro, as we have seen, inaugurated its new branch in the countryside near Itu. It’s a new way to exhibit art, to have an open-air museum where Marcos gives carte blanche to the artists he invites. After Marcia Pastore (1964-), it is now the turn of the great Paulist artist Carlito Carvalhosa (1961-) who has created ‘Área de propriedade’, an ambitious site-specific installation of 195 meters long and eight meters high that will be permanent. It is a reflection on the fences that divide the pastures in landscapes without limits. This fence is visible but useless having wires placed too high to prevent passage and therefore does not divide anything. The artist changes scale and questions the relationship between the image and the function of what surrounds us.

Guaranteeing the future

The project is in its infancy. But as a good businessman, Marcos is already thinking about making it sustainable so that FAMA will not depend on him alone. A first sponsor has appeared with Itau Cultural. Of course, with his teams, they are working to put this new destination on the world map. It is already one of the Brazilian pearls not to be missed for all the art lovers and the curious in general who will come to the region when the nasty virus will have finished tickling us. Until then, Marcos Amaro won’t stop anyway! He is waiting for you.

 

For more information: https://famamuseu.org/

For travelers: FAMA is currently open with restrictive conditions related to coronavirus.