Crying through Art

In my presentation of the new crying material I shared my process of crying through Art.

Why do I feel the need to cry trough Art? Is crying enough for me? No. I believe we all find ways to deal with our emotional pain when crying isn’t enough, and for me that is Art. It’s a more active way of crying and dealing with my feelings.

To help me elaborate this idea I created this scheme:

This “Art web” tries to follow an order that is quite hard to understand, even for me, due to the connections that are established between every single stage.

In my presentation I explained these different stages through my works. If you are interested in seeing it in more detail you can check the handout uploaded in the Moodle.

My work is still alternating between the last 2 stages of this process -Laugh not to cry and Will I ever not feel ashamed of crying -, so I thought it would be interesting to share what I haven’t shared yet.

The expression Uma lata do caralho means “you have a lot of fucking nerve”. In Portuguese this expression uses the word lata, that means can. Alike the red ribbon O mau da fita (you can see it above), I decided to play with the expression that was said to me in an aggressive tone, trough sarcasm.

Obrigadinha (“thank you so much” in a sarcastic tone) and ?UAM (MAU? – BAD?) continue this process of questioning and processing what was said to me, through art and sarcasm. Laugh not to cry. Who is the bad one? And is that person really bad or are we seeing it incorrectly? Who do we have to thank? Do we truly need or want to thank that person?


“O Menino da Lágrima” – “Crying Boys”

Our relationship with crying is very troubled. Usually people don’t know how to deal with the act of crying, specially someone else’s. There’s an embarrassment and a sense of exposure felt by the crying person that, combined with the incapacity felt by the watcher, creates a very awkward and difficult situation. It’s almost unnatural how often this happens with such a common and human act.

This tension that comes with the observation of the crying act, made me very intrigued by a series of paintings that became popular in the 60’s and 70’s, that depicts this subject.

Giovanni Bragolin painting the Crying Children

By the end of the XX century most Portuguese houses had the painting “o Menino da Lágrima” as decoration. This was one of a series of crying children portraits by the Italian artist Giovanni Bragolin completed in the 1950’s. Despite their sad and suffering look these paintings became very popular in Portugal, Brazil (O Menino da Lágrima), Chile, Argentina, Spain (El Niño Que Llora), Britain (Crying Boys), Sweden (Gråtande Barn), France (Le Garçon qui pleure) and Italy.

These were very melancholic paintings that marked a generation.

“a fashion that for those who were Portuguese children between the 1970s and 80s has “a load of sadness and desolation”

Público – O Menino da Lágrima, o quadro que assombrou mil infâncias e casas portuguesas (O Menino da Lágrima, the painting that haunted a thousand childhoods and Portuguese homes)

There are dozens of versions, namely “Meninas da Lágrima” (Crying Girls), and each country had its favorites or a more beloved portrait.

Their strength in the collective consciousness is so great that even those who haven’t lived directly with them recognize the name or image. “Sometimes it no longer matters whether the painting existed with us, in the place where we lived or with the people we knew, because it was there even without being there”

Público – O Menino da Lágrima, o quadro que assombrou mil infâncias e casas portuguesas (O Menino da Lágrima, the painting that haunted a thousand childhoods and Portuguese homes)

In Portugal this generational memory is so strong that has been used as an amulet, as a kitsch reference in photo sessions, tv shows’ sets, humor segments, among others, by various public figures, such as futebol players. It has even been used as decoration in hotels and object of reinterpretation by several artists.

Not only that but the painting has been seen by many as cursed, specially in Britain, where many stories aroused where the painting escaped unscathed from houses destroyed by fires.

This is a very interesting and intriguing “trend” for me. How can this crying tabu (even more so at that time) be looked at as a decorative object? How can crying children be conceived in the 60’s as an appropriate ornament for the normal household? But then again, isn’t art the best way to question society’s prejudices?

Fonts: (Portuguese), and (English), (Spanish), (French), (Swedish)