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Valeska Soares

Sugar Blues (I), 2017

Valeska Soares included in Samba in the Dark at Anton Kern Gallery, New York, NY. 

The institution's press release follows: 

Samba In The Dark is inspired by a well-known Brazilian protest song, Apesar de Você (In Spite of You), written and recorded in 1970 by Chico Buarque at the height of the military dictatorship in Brazil (1968–1984). The song unapologetically criticizes the Generals’ repressive government with powerful, metaphorical lyrics. Although the song was immediately censored by General Médici’s regime, it became the anthem for millions of Brazilians of all ages. It remains a popular song today for the hope and resilience it inspires:

“In spite of you, tomorrow will be another day. I ask you, where will you hide the huge euphoria? How will you ban when the rooster insists on singing? New water welling up, and our people love each other nonstop.”

This exhibition is an invitation to the artists and the audience alike to reflect on the tumultuous times we currently live in. Despite various attempts to deter them, artists in Brazil have long stood up against dictatorship, authoritarianism, and censorship, and have fought for a civil and just society for many generations. In this spirit, the twenty-three contemporary artists in Samba In The Dark channel the energy of widespread activism that continues to thrive in Brazil. The works exhibited span several decades and encompass a wide variety of materials.

A group of drawings by Sérgio Sister serves as a foundation for this show. They were made while Sister was imprisoned and tortured in Rio de Janeiro in the 1970s, and take on an unsettling urgency today as the tentacles of the old military regime are threatening contemporary society again.

Shaped by this history, old and young artists alike feel inclined toward experimentation and allegorical plasticity while solidly standing in a long history of Brazilian art.

Yes, we do, after all, have a reputation for being a Samba dancing, ass-shaking nation. Samba is rooted in our culture and in our lives, and vibrant colors define our landscape. The works in this exhibition embrace these lively, energetic stereotypes while carrying a darker message about Brazil today. Like Marcos Chaves’s flag flying outside of the gallery, we question: vai passar? Will it pass?

Samba In The Dark
January 14 – February 15, 2020
Anton Kern Gallery
New York, NY