The following illustrations come from the José Olimpio, 1970 edition of Sagarana, published in Portuguese. The artist is Napoleon Potiguara Lazzarotto (1924-1998), better known simply as Poty. After the jump you’ll find additional links to blogs which feature notable mentions of Poty, including links to great scans of Poty’s work specifically for JGR’s collection of short stories, Third Bank of the River (Primeiras Estòrias), showcased by Journey Round My Skull & Airform Archives.
Poty Bio Page (Portuguese, Additional Photos)
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The following is an excerpt from a blog in Portuguese concerning Poty’s murals in the cities of Maringá and Lapa, in the state of Paraná. Please keep in mind I do not know Portuguese, but, with the aid of a dictionary and a basic knowledge of Spanish, I’ve translated this excerpt myself.
Blog: MOSAICOS DO BRASIL, apresentados por Gougon, jornalista, mosaicólogo (firstname.lastname@example.org), Painéis musivos de Poty em Maringá e na Lapa (PR), by Henrique Gougon
[Text within brackets is my own.]
Born in Curitiba in 1924, Napoleon Potiguara Lazarotto is considered to be one of the most recognized names in Brazilian Art. He was a fan of comics and movies, and it was this dream world which pushed him towards other artistic languages to which he devoted himself always with great flair and creativity. At the age of eighteen he left to study in Rio de Janeiro, where he worked with names well established in Modernism, such as Portinari and Di Cavalcanti. At twenty-two he traveled to Paris where he spent a short time learning printing techniques in wood and metal, which he would use frequently throughout his career.
Upon his return to Brazil, he settled first in São Paulo where he taught art and produced a series of panels and murals depicting popular characters, workers, peasants and beggars. As a graphic illustrator he took jobs that contributed to the great success of novelists like Graciliano Ramos, Jorge Amado, Rachel de Queiroz and Dalton Trevisan.
[The blogger goes on to describe a trip he once took to Cordisburgo, where he visited the birthplace of Guimarães Rosa and found, to his surprise, displayed on the walls, the original woodcuts by Poty for Grande Sertão: Veredas, as well as those for other stories.]
In addition to the works of national writers, Poty Lazarotto created illustrations for translated editions by authors such as Kafka, Edgar Alan Poe and Chekhov. […] He died in 1998 and his last job was a mosaic panel for the Teatro Calil Haddad in the city of Maringá [Brazil], completed in 1997, but only inaugurated in 2000.
Personally, I’ve never seen the work, but I was graced with beautiful photos taken by young Stela Boeira Vilela, at the request of my old friend, veteran journalist and professor, Manuel Vilela de Magalhaes, his uncle .
Maringá has a second mural done by Poty Lazarotto, but rather than a mosaic, it’s concrete and is installed in the main shopping town.
Until the other day, I thought Poty’s work as a mosaicist was limited to the city of Maringá, but was surprised by a message from someone in Butantan, São Paulo, who, while traveling, stopped at the entrance of the city of Lapa, and was dazzled to find a mural by Poty.
The traveler, Gláucia Cuchierato, took several pictures of quality work, and knowing of my interest in the subject just from browsing the internet, took the initiative to send me an email, saying:
‘I was in the town of Lapa, PR, where the entry has a huge panel mosaic by the same artist, with the figure of drivers and their cattle ….’ Then she asked if I would like to have some photos of the work. As my wife often says, ‘it’s like asking a monkey if it wants to eat bananas.’
The image of the drivers and cattle wandering before the Paraná Pines, against a white background, displays a sharp contrast of light and dark, which the artist uses to give dimension to the bucolic scene of which he was so fond, and which is representative of the slow movement of life in the countryside of his homeland.