Thursday, August 9, 2012



Its a sad city, with a sense of of abandonment. The landscape isn't euphoric like Rio's, with its strange and spectacular mountains.

Recife stretches widely, but seems half finished, with patches of wasteland and favela here and there, while the long sea front consists of huge, anonymous condominiums. There is almost nowhere to eat or drink late at night along the seafront, strangely.

Recife features the usual rotten Brazilian urban planning, so that that even travelling short distances by bus takes an eternity.  I found the waiters and waitresses glum. There are a fair number of people sleeping rough, including children.

More positively, there is an interesting folk and carnival tradition and the baroque churches are spectacular, and the old city has been nicely restored. There is a lively street life around parts of the old town around Santo Antonio.

The artist Brennand has a studio and museum complex above the city, which is truly one of most enjoyable art collections I have seen, with his sculptures elegantly sited in gardens.


I did not spend long enough painting in Recife to get into it properly. With little time one ends up becoming caught in very obvious tourist views, and it struck me that was most interesting about Recife was the relationship between the lively street life and the architecture- something which I would have required more time to find ways to capture.

Baroque architecture is a devil to paint, as its forms suggest constant motion and tropical regions are less satisfying than temperate ones because the light is always from above, making even Baroque buildings appear insipid, because their forms become flattened.

Many thanks to Fernanda for her help and company on this trip.


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