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CELSO RENATO

Born in 1919 in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil),
he died in 1992 in Belo Horizonte (Brazil)

CELSO RENATO

Celso Renato de Lima was the grandson of the politician Augusto de Lima and the son of the lawyer and painter Renato de Lima, who taught him his first art lessons. In the 1930s—thanks to his family connections—he frequented the home of writer Aníbal Machado in Rio de Janeiro, where he discovered the work of Alberto da Veiga Guignard and Candido Portinari. Following in his father’s footsteps, he studied Law at the University of Minas Gerais in the 1940s. Throughout the 1950s he worked as a sales representative, a job he eventually gave up for a position as legal counsel for the state-owned telephone company, where he worked for two decades. Celso Reanto was a latecomer to painting and did not devote himself entirely to art until the end of his life. In 1962 he held his first solo show at an impromptu gallery in the Maletta building, at the time a gathering place for the bohemian artistic and literary community of Belo Horizonte, and in 1965 he presented work in the 8th São Paulo Biennial. His early paintings were informal abstract compositions in which vague geometric shapes alternate with free calligraphic gestures. In the 1970s he began to work with found objects— mostly pieces of wood collected at construction sites in a period when the Belo Horizonte property market was booming. It was then that his work took a new turn, achieving a semantic synthesis of civil construction and an intensely personal interpretation of neo-constructivism. Strongly influenced by the sculptor Amilcar de Castro, he worked with wooden partitions walls, planks and fragments of doors and windows, establishing a dialogue between the supports he worked with and the alterations he made to them. He added pure colours (black, white and red) to these pieces of wood in elemental graphic expressions—lines, triangles and squares—without concealing the grain of the wood, the joints or any flaws the support might have, thus allowing for these details to become equally important elements of the composition. He finally achieved widespread recognition in the 1980s. In 1990 his artistic achievements were honoured at Construção selvagem [Wild Construction], an exhibition held at Belo Horizonte’s Palace of Fine Arts, where his work was shown alongside that of younger artists. RM

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