Gilvan Samico's Woodcuts: The Peculiar Confluence of Highbrow and Popular Art in Brazilian Northeastern Culture


The delicate lines and sharp curves that adorn Gilvan Samico's best-known engravings (such as A Luta dos Anjos, from 1968) encourage the viewer to reflect on the disagreement between the meticulousness of the drawing and the rustic means through which it was originated, the wood matrix. In his stylistic consolidation phase, during the second half of the 1960s, the engraver separated himself from his first master, Lívio Abramo, and began to make a particular use of white space and rigid black lines, while he also began to conceive a mythological theme of his own–as can be seen in the jaguars, fishes, and birds that gained an air of divinity in his engravings. Also remarkable from that time was his involvement with the work materials themselves; the artist, during this phase, began to adapt his working materials, learning to modify the gouge for more precise carving, also becoming a specialist in the types of wood that were most adapted to the making of the extremely detailed matrices. For this reason, it can be argued that he did not only seek to enrich a technique but also hoped to develop a characteristic aesthetic repertoire, his own language within the woodcut. This purpose was as essential for his future works as it was for making him one of the names of the Armorial and Pernambuco art, and the Samico that can be seen from that decade on did not become a celebrated name outside the artistic world, but ascended amongst art critics and connoisseurs of national erudite art, being recognized for the refinement of the technique and the refinement of the works. However, the inflection points that marked his distinctive style–the artist remained to make this type of piece until the end of his life–have roots in the change in his own look on art, a repertoire opening that would not happen outside the Recife-Olida axis, or the context of the Armorial Movement.

Ana Claudia Simãode Oliveira Lopes
Publication date: 
November 1, 2023
Publication type: 
Student Research