Jacques Van de Beuque
Jacques Van de Beuque discovered Brazilian folk art when he arrived in Recife, having been hired by an airline to decorate the windows of their agencies throughout Brazil. In Pernambuco, he became fascinated with the little clay figures and the other folk creatures, fashioned by artists and local artisans. He began to collect their work and from then on continued to buy them, little by little acquiring a large collection.
He was attracted above all by the vivacity, the colors and shapes of the little pieces that he found. At the time when he began collecting, these pieces created by simple artisans and were viewed both as evidence and as ethnographic objects. Some artists and intellectuals suggested, timidly, that there was another way of approaching these pieces: to see them as popular objects. Unlike the folklorists at the time, who generally viewed the pieces simply as objects and evidence of a tradition or a common practice, Jacques viewed these little works as art.
“It did not matter who made them or the circumstances under which they were made, I bought these pieces only because they had an impact on me as works of art. I never considered them for ideological reasons. I used my personal taste. In most cases, I cannot tell you why this piece is better than that one. I only know that one speaks to me more clearly than the other. The pieces speak for themselves. The same artist is not always capable of producing provocative work full-time. There is a set of factors that the art critics list, but I only feel. It has to do with harmony, irony - something more provocative that makes a piece unique.” (Mascekani, Angela, Masters Dissertation EBA/UFRJ, 1996)
For 40 years, Jacques Van de Beuque travelled to various parts of Brazil to do his research; places far from the big cities, where he discovered artists like Mestre Vitalino, Manuel Galdino, Nhô Caboclo, Manuel Eudócio, Zé Caboclo and Ciça. In Rio de Janeiro and the surrounding areas, he made long-lasting friendships with the artists whose work he followed and collected for more than 20 years. Artists like Adalton Fernandes Lopes and Antônio de Oliveira.
The persistence of Jacques Van de Beuque, as well as the excellent taste of the collection that he managed to acquire, continued to help identify the contributions of popular culture, permitting a broad vision of the universe of artistic and cultural production of hundreds of folk artists and of several collectives throughout Brazil.
“The fact is that the value of folk art continues to be challenged and relegated to a lower plane in relation to classical art, despite the imagination and richness of its repertoire, the artistic audacity of it shapes, the intelligence in its use of resources and the miracles of manual skills. Folk Art, and its vitality, extends beyond the limits of the object, creatively breaking through in various ways.” (Brazilian Folk Art, Câmara Brasileira do Livro, 1994).