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Tiny and Small Paintings from Brazil

November 2020 - December 2020

 “Tiny and Small Paintings from Brazil” opened in midtown St. Louis sometime in September 2020—but nobody is exactly sure when due to the confusion caused by the COVID pandemic. The show probably ran through November 2020. The paintings themselves have a known origin as they were selected from an enormous group of canvases filling a small shop crammed with works made by different artists. The colorful and dusty loja was discovered in Salvador, Bahia, during a visit to Brazil in the summer of 2019. 

The trip was part of a month-long extravagância based on three different places: the enormous coastal city of Rio de Janeiro, the medium-sized predominantly Afro-Brazilian city of Salvador, and the inland capital of the nation known for its spectacular brutalism: Brasilia. Living a sense of contemporary tropicalia and discovering Brazilian life through its art and architecture were some of the main goals of the trip closely followed by explorations of foods, music, street life, reliving Katherine’s AFS experience in Salvador, and visiting a friend of Daphne’s. In Rio we stayed in a fancy hotel with a spectacular view of Pan d’Azucar off in the brilliant distance filled with curves and flowers and framed by sunsets. Beyond museums and galleries, we toured the Rocinha favela, entering the steep neighborhood on motorcycles. Bahia, on the other hand, was a trip made to commemorate and critique Katherine’s original stay in the early 90s when she left Clayton (declaring, “I’m sick of the Loop”) and went to live with a family and go to Brazilian escola secondária. Instead of high school though she hung out in a painter’s shop with an artist named Biggy. Living in Salvador however ended up lasting only a few weeks so part of the experience of our return trip was meant to recreate her moment of running away—something that we were able to relive thanks to a decision to flee a shady hotel. Katherine and all of us packed our bags and reenacted the flight down a treacherous staircase and out the door without telling anyone or saying anything to the man at the front desk. It felt weird, exciting, and cathartic; it gave a sense of closure and comic relief to an awkward 90s exchange program.