Valdir Cruz: Guarapuava

We are proud to share this blog post written by Susan Bishopric about En Foco alumni, Valdir Cruz‘s upcoming exhibition and book GUARAPUAVA at Throckmorton Fine Art. Cruz has been part of the En Foco familia for many years. His work is part of our Permanent Collection which is accompanied with a book and traveling exhibition, titled En Foco/In Focus: Selected Works from the Permanent Collection. Cruz’s is also part of our Print Collectors Program that is available for purchase. He has also been featured twice in Nueva Luz (vol. 6 #2 and vol. 12 #3).  

Valdir Cruz, Paisagem com arvores e lago, 2002,  Pigment on paper, 30 x 38 inches.
© Valdir Cruz, Paisagem com arvores e lago, 2002, Pigment on paper, 30 x 38 inches.

Valdir Cruz is a Brazilian photographer, born in 1954 in Guarapuava, the Southern State of Paraná, Brazil.  While Cruz has lived in the United States for more than thirty years, his photography has largely focused on the people, architecture and landscape of his native Brazil and the rainforests of Latin America. In 1996, Cruz was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for Faces of the Rainforest, a project documenting the life of indigenous people in the Brazilian Rainforest. The Guggenheim Foundation further supported this project with a publication subvention award.

What distinguishes Valdir Cruz’s photography, is the docu-essay form of his projects which expertly tap his interest in anthropology and culture.  He has lived among the native cultures not just in Guarapuava but in many Latin American locations and through exposure to different peoples and places developed a strong documentarian eye easily discerned from the Guarapuava works on display Sept 18 – November 1 at Throckmorton Fine Art in New York.

© Valdir Cruz, Pinus Araucaria, 1992, Selenium Tones Gelatin Silver Print, 11 x 14 inches.

In his introduction to the GUARAPUAVA book that accompanies the Throckmorton exhibition, photography researcher and curator, Rubens Fernandes, Jr., says “For over thirty years, Valdir Cruz has produced regular records of Guarapuava. His images are not commonplace; many people consider that documentation of a town means looking at the urban space and photographing it through its public road and imposing buildings, but here, contrary to what one might think, it is seen as a space where different ethnicities that make up Brazil coexist – Europeans, native peoples, and Africans – whose boundaries are surrounded by exuberant waterfalls and breathtaking landscapes.  This rare initiative distinguishes this essay’s uniqueness, with an unconventional exercise in constructing memories.  Instead of a cartographic reading of streets and buildings, he chose to portray local people, local events such as cattle divers’ dislocations, and landscapes that still pulse in the imaginary created by his childhood memories.  This is a keen record of a local dweller in his own land.

“The characters portrayed are anonymous heroes who, together with landscapes and waterfalls, celebrate this visual references.  Actually, it is an inventory of emotions far removed from the power setting represented by the urban space and its buildings, similar to a family album gathering a kind of inventive story articulated through desire-rich and imaginative narrative.  Valdir Cruz is able to transform commonplace occurrences into extraordinary things by circumscribing photography as a power of personal, social, and cultural values, far from the current visual easiness.  At the Guarapuava show, this manifest desire to excel is remarkable, since, as well as synthesizing his life experience, he also extends the visibility of people and landscapes marginal to the system.”

Valdir Cruz, Tropeiro Chico, 1990, Pigment on paper, 30 x 30 inches
© Valdir Cruz, Tropeiro Chico, 1990, Pigment on paper, 30 x 30 inches.

“Guarapuava” is Throckmorton Fine Art’s sixth solo exhibition of works by the documentary-photographer, Valdir Cruz, and one that is the culmination of a thirty-year project.

Spencer Throckmorton says, “Cruz’s exquisite photographic essay on ‘Guarapuava,’ the photographer’s hometown, bears out Tolstoy’s observation that to be universal one only needs to talk about his own village. With unremitting devotion, Cruz has chronicled the lives and lifestyles of this ephemeral and evocative place. The images are the result of his close investigation of its people and landscapes.”

© Valdir Cruz, Hands, 2003, Pigment on paper, 30 x 30 inches

Among highlights – “Guarapuava” showcases a photograph entitled, “Hands” which beautifully represents the absolute wide range of black and gray tones—from delicate charcoal shades to pitch darkness—resulting in a striking composition. It is also a visual and cultural commentary of a solitary gesture that models human complexity.

For more information on the artist, please click here.


Exhibition Information:

Dates: September 18th – November 1st, 2014

Location:  Throckmorton Fine Art 
145 East 57th Street, 3rd Floor
New York, NY 10022
(212) 223-1059

Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 11 am to 5 pm


More About Valdir Cruz:
Cruz was mentored and studied with some of the photographic world’s greatest practitioners.  First at the Germain School, and then when he received aesthetic and technical know-how working with George Tice at New York’s New School for Social Research. His talent has won him over fifty solo exhibitions since the early 80s at venues including the National Arts Club in New York, the Houston Center for Photography and FotoFest International.  His work has been acquired by private collectors as well as museums in the United States and Brazil including The Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the New York Public Library, The Smithsonian Institution and the Brooklyn Museum as well as the Museu de Arte de Sao Paulo.


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