Post-war Brazil’s fertile hub of modernist design has long been an interest of Parisian gallerist Aline Chastel. Her patronage joins a plethora of European galleries that are promoting the design movement – Nilufar Gallery, R & Company and Giustini / Stagetti Roma to name a few. Chastel, the founder of Galerie Chastel-Maréchal is now bringing her collection to France this autumn for the exhibition ‘Modernity of Brazilian Design from 1950 to 1980.’
Just opened, the show features 21 pieces by seven designers. These include precursors to the period like Portuguese-born Joaquim Tenreiro, actual Brazilian luminaries in Sergio Rodrigues and José Zanine Caldas, and a host of European designers who became pioneers of the style (the duo Carlo Hauner and Martin Eisler, Giuseppe Scapinelli and Jorge Zalszupin). ‘At that time, Brazil was a real Eldorado for people fleeing the Second World War ,’ Chastel explains.
This all helped define a style utterly in tune with its homeland: first, through the use of native woods as material (jacaranda, pequi, peroba, vinhatico et al); second, in structures that referenced both South America’s diverse landscapes and contemporary social ideals.
So it goes with Chastel’s curation. There’s Zalszupin’s meticulous jacaranda tea cart. The subtle East Asian vibes of Tenreiro’s cane deck lounger and ‘Estrutural’ chairs. The rounded forms of Scapinelli’s burnished ‘Agua’ coffee table, and Caldas’ robust, organic ‘Namoradeira’ conversation seat. This one is Chastel’s favourite. ‘I love Caldas’ process,’ she says. ‘He is a true free-thinker and has a devoted respect for the Amazon rainforest.’
Coffee table by Giuseppe Scapinelli, circa 1950. Courtesy Galerie Chastel-Maréchal. © Agence Phar - J. Beylard et V. Luc
All works exemplify a modernist design style marked by an undulating muscularity and occasionally rustic charm. Seen together, they can appear visually disparate – but collectively, the gallery explains, they encapsulate the ‘desire of their creators to remain close to nature, to respect it, and to embrace a specific sense of freedom’.
Most excitingly, the works and their creators will be new to most visitors. ‘Brazilian design is totally underrepresented in France. This singular exhibition keeps up the rediscovery process that has been initiated by gallery James,’ says Chastel, referring to the now-shuttered Parisian design hub. ‘I make my own proposition with strong choices, especially through Caldas’ work, which has never been exhibited in a gallery in Paris.’ Roll on September.§