Friday, March 16, 2012

Estrada Geral do Ribeirão da Ilha, Florianópolis; Brazillian architecture

Estrada Geral do Ribeirão da Ilha, Florianópolis, oil on card, 8.5 /10 cm  SOLD


Strip development along a highway: Brazilian architecture continues to astonish me in its sheer ugliness. You probably won't realise this if you look at books on Brazil because they are so selective.

You'll get even less of an idea if you look at books on this country's architecture, which will concentrate mainly on colonial stuff, the few remaining 19th century eclectic pieces, and showcase  buildings by Neimeyer and his pals.

Brazil's architecture is remarkable for it's general nastiness: ill planned, with no feeling for nature, nor sense of scale, with buildings constructed without consideration to their neighbours and no consideration to urban planning.

Moreover they are often very shoddily made. There are, naturally, one or two exceptions: a fancy art gallery here, a posh block there, maybe the odd grand private house: these serve to emphasise the mediocrity of the main.

I haven't come across any equivalent to the sort of simple, elegant mass housing seen in Scandinavian modern, or British Georgian.

The disdain for nature, surely Brazil's greatest asset, is amazing. There are almost no gardens or parks here worth speaking of, and those which survive from Burle Marx's day, say, are poorly maintained. Even large houses rarely have gardens.

With all this, I feel that I am stating the obvious, but the obvious sometimes needs to be stated. I sense an parallel to criticising Brasilian architecture in the position food critics found themselves when consuming food in Britain in the fifties.