Mario Cravo Neto

One of the minor disadvantages of living just outside London is the time and expense of getting to events taking place there. I have to make an effort to go to events such as tonight’s opening at Autograph of photographs by the late Brazilian photographer Mario Cravo Neto (1947-2009), and I just don’t have the time – and unless I’m up in London for other reasons its often hard to persuade myself to do so for openings. But I will certainly find time when I’m in London before the show ends on 2nd April 2016 to pay a visit to Rivington Place in Shoreditch, London.

One of the things I most enjoyed doing and which I thought was most important when I was employed to write about photography on the web was a series of articles of photography in various countries around the world, in part to get away from what appeared to be the assumption of many that the only important things happening in photography – at least since the start of the 20th century – were made in the USA. (Not that I neglected the USA, and I also wrote extensively about American photographers, particularly those involved in the New York Photo League, some of whom I felt were being forgotten.)

And although I wrote about photography in various countries around the world, in Europe, Asia, Africa and Australasia, the backbone of my series was the countries of Central and Southern America, which I tackled in alphabetical order. Brazil thus came fairly early in the series, which followed a fairly standard pattern, beginning with and introduction to the country and what I could glean about the early history of photography there (French-born inventor Hercules Florence living in the Sao Paulo region was apparently using a camera before that Mr Talbot at Lacock) and continuing on into the 20th century and ending with a short text about post-war and contemporary photographers. I wrote about around a dozen from Brazil, including this paragraph:

Mário Cravo Neto comes from Bahia, and his work incorporates references to the voodoo religion of that region, using indigenous people as actors holding objects often of ritual significance. He trained a sculptor like his father before turning to photography and his work shows a strong, tactile appreciation of texture.

It’s rather brief but to the point, though I might also have commented on the richness of both his black and white and colour work, but I did also make links to any web sites where his work could be seen, though in 2000 these were few. Things are rather easier now. There is a set on  Lensculture for the Autograph show, and an extensive web site on the Project ‘Black Gods in Exile’ with work by him and Pierre Verger, another photographer who featured in my article.

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