Nuca de Tracunhaém [Manuel Borges da Silva]

1937, Nazaré da Mata | PE - Brazil

2014, Recife | PE - Brazil

Nuca was born on the sugar plantation of Pedra Furada, and when still a lad moved with his family to Tracunhaém, where his father bought a small plot of land. There the family lived and planted for their subsistence. It is natural that Nuca, when he arrived at the large ceramic center of Tracunhaém, would become interested in the brickworks, and would closely see the work of Lídia Vieira and Zezinha, of whom he is an admirer (O Reinado da Lua, 1980). He married Maria and continued working in the brickwork trade and planting to survive. He was 37 years old when he began modeling clay, at the request of an antique dealer from Recife. Nuca then created beautiful sculptures of his lions that could be almost one meter long. Perhaps the lions of Portuguese porcelain decorating the entrance to old houses in Recife had being his starting point.

But these animals, completely different from the realistic portrait, first recall the early centuries of the classic ancient times. With an archaic and solemn look of guardians – not of common dwelling, to where they finally arrived, but of sacred spaces - , they are the result of a harmonious concept of volume and treatment of the alternately smooth and worked surfaces with curly manes, or grooved with a knife. Nuca on this occasion would also carve human figures with the same ascetic and archaic simplification of shape, where the only ornaments are foliage and flowers. His wife, Maria Gomes, models small lions that she calls carrancas or figureheads. Roberto Burle Marx put Nuca’s lions at the entrance to his house on his museum-farm in Guaratiba, Rio de Janeiro. One of them is part of the collection of the museum of popular art the São Francisco Cultural Center in João Pessoa, in Paraíba State, after being part of the Brésil, Arts Populaires, in Grand Palais exhibition in Paris, 1987.    

Source: Little Dictionary of the Brazilian People’s Art – 20th Century, by anthropologist and poet Lélia Coelho Frota


Collective Exhibitions:


2021 They Were Here, Galeria Base, São Paulo, SP, Brazil

2019 CRAB Exhibition, Centro Sebrae de Referência do Artesanato Brasileiro CRAB, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil

2012 - 2013 Janete Costa “A Look” / Janete Costa “A Look”, Janete Costa Museum, Niterói, RJ, Brazil

2010 Exhibition Domingos Giobbi? Art, an affective relationship, Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo, São Paulo, SP, Brazil

2010 Casa Cor - Ugo di Pace, Joquey Clube, São Paulo, SP, Brazil

2008 - 2009 Imaginary Exhibition of Brazilian People, Antiquarius Restaurant, São Paulo, SP, Brazil

2008 Naifs of Brazil Biennial, SESC SP, São Paulo, SP, Brazil

2007 The size of Brazil - Popular Art Exhibition, SESC Paulista, São Paulo, SP, Brazil

2006 SOMOS - the popular Brazilian creation, Santander Cultural Center, Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil

2005 Form, Color and Expression, Galeria Estação, São Paulo, SP, Brazil

2005 Tradition and Rupture, Museo Oscar Niemayer, Curitiba, PR, Brazil

2002 Pop Brazil: popular art and the popular in the art, Banco do Brasil Cultural Center (CCBB), São Paulo, SP, Brazil

2000 Popular Art: Rediscovery Exhibition, São Paulo Biennial Foundation, São Paulo, SP, Brazil

1992 Long live the Brazilian people | Crafts and folk art, Museum of Modern Art of Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil


Selected Publications:


2012 Janete Costa “A Look", Mario Santos, Lis Gráfica, page 22

2008 Naifs do Brasil Biennial, SESC SP, page 170

1992 Viva o Povo Brasileiro, Museum of Modern Art in Rio de Janeiro, page 74

1980 Reinado da Lua, Silvia Coimbra, Flavia Martins, Leticia Duarte, publisher Salamandra, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil

1978 Mitopoeticas de 9 artistas brasileiros, Clarival do Prado Valladares, Funarte, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil


são paulo

2011 Art Exhibition

16.08.2011 - 21.08.2011
são paulo

Janete Costa: A Glance

16.12.2012 - 31.03.2013
são paulo

SP Arte 2010

29.04.2010 - 02.05.2010