So gallant…so nude…
Texto: Karen Steinman Martini. Modelagem 3D: Victor Rosa Gouveia. Pós-Produção: Luís Felipe Abbud, João Generoso Gonzales.
The work Depois do Banho, by sculptor Victor Brecheret, was installed in the 1940s at Largo do Arouche and is one of the few artistic nudes exhibited in the city. Carried out during World War II during an interruption of work on Monumento às Bandeiras, after a freeze on government spending, the work is part of a plan to beautify São Paulo, in which the City Hall commissioned the sculptor’s works for the inauguration of new streets. During this period, the works Graça I and Graça II were carried out for the Prestes Maia Gallery, in the reformulated Anhangabaú, and the Fauno, installed in the garden of the Municipal Library, currently Praça Dom José Gaspar. The work is part of an iconographic research by the sculptor who had already presented similar works of the same name in an exhibition at the Salon des Indépendents in Paris, in 1929, and later installed the work ‘After the Bath’ (standing), in the Main Hall of the Palace of the Plateau.
Its location in Largo do Arouche, a territory of LGBTQIAA+ dispute and of conflict between surrounding residents and regulars, also places it as a symbol to which different meanings are associated. In real estate launches in the region and advertisements for restaurants in the square, the work is described as a gleaming bronze sculpture and associated with ideas of beauty and tradition. For movements that fight for the recognition of this as a LGBTQIAA+ territory, the sculpture of a naked female body gains appropriations connected to discussions about the oppression to which non-hegemonic bodies are subjected. In a campaign publicized on social media for the orgulhe-se clothing brand, of their Travesti baseball cap, the statue was brought to light, linked to the poem: The Transvestite….’After the Bath’…So fresh…So placid…So gallant…So nude… The work was also the main character of the play ‘Diana’ by Celso Frateschi. First staged in 1999, the play tells the story of a teacher who, disillusioned with human relationships, starts to communicate only with objects and falls in love with the woman in the sculpture ‘Depois do Banho,’ whom he names Diana.
One of the most obvious issues related to the work today is vandalism. Sandra Brecheret Pellegrini, daughter of Victor Brecheret, comments in an interview with Estado de São Paulo: ‘The one that worries me most is Depois do Banho in Largo do Arouche, unprotected.’ Surrounding residents often share concerns about the uses of and interventions on the sculpture. ‘They sniff glue on the sculpture. I’ve even seen people having sex up there,’ says a woman who claims to have lived in the region for 43 years. The statue is part of a set of 10 monuments installed on the site, including a Jardim de Esculturas [Sculpture Garden] – a series of 5 busts created by the Academia Brasileira de Letras. The bust of writer Guilherme de Almeida was even stolen in 2001 and replaced by a sculpture by an anonymous artist, representing a face with black features with a screw sticking out of its chin, contrasting with the other images of white men in suits.
The series of appropriations and interpretation of the figure in Depois do Banho, as well as the sculptures around it, in Largo do Arouche, demonstrate a claim for visibility, serving as a platform for debates and demands, in a space in which intersectional issues of gender, race and identity are latent.
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