nilson pimenta

The artists: Nilson Pimenta (on the left) and his son Valques Rodrigues

About Nilson Pimenta

There are very few living artists in Brazil today who are concerned about documenting those aspects of Brazilian rural life that are rapidly waning to make way for intensive farming techniques which, besides the ecosystem, are also destroying the livelihood and folklore of the simple people, who take from the land their basic means of survival. Nilson Pimenta is probably one of the last such artists. A natural born painter, it is said that Nilson used a scrap of wood charcoal to draw before he could say mum and dad. Since he was born in 1956, Nilson Pimenta’s life has been intimately connected with Brazil’s life. His parents were humble land-workers, who moved from place to place every two years in search of a new stretch of land they could lease to farm. A longer stay and they could be taken for posseiros – landless people who take possession of the third parties’ unused land and claim it as their own.

Poor but principled, Nilson’s family led a nomadic life, which gave the artist a deep insight into the everyday scenes that would, from an early age, become part and parcel of his future work. And this is what Nilson does best. His paintings depict the simple life of the peasants, their struggle for survival in an inhospitable environment, their joie de vivre and appreciation of small pleasures, their parties and folklore.

Nilson documents the villages, the forests, the rivers, the Indians and the animals of the inland Western Brazilian state of Mato Grosso with such a purity, vividness and richness of detail, that one’s first reaction on seeing his work is to want to visit these places before they disappear.

Too poor to buy crayons and paint, Nilson Pimenta drew with charcoal around walls and farm gates in Cuiabá, the capital of Mato Grosso, until his work was seen by the established painter Humberto Spindola in the 70s. Espindola took the young Nilson under his wing and taught him, among other techniques, how to use oil paint. From then on, Nilson’s career took off, and he was soon exhibiting in some of the country’s most prestigious galleries and museums. Among his exhibitions: London (2006) Brazilian Contemporary Art.

Some of Pimenta’s paintings are here: (and more can be found via links at the bottom of that page).

Valques Rodrigues

Valques Rodrigues, Nilson Pimenta’s son, is also from Cuiaba. A Law student, he started painting by the age of 6 years in his father’s studio. He has had several local exhibitions at the Youth Art Exhibition Space (Salão Jovem Arte Matogrossense) receiving prizes from I Bienal NAIF Matogrossense and the Bienal in S. Paulo. Recently he dedicated part of his time, helping his father, to share his art and passion for painting with children at ACRIFE.

Some of Valques’ work is here:



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