In the exhibition “Agnaldo Manuel do Santos – A Conquista da Modernidade” (Agnaldo Manuel dos Santos – The Conquest of Modernity), curator Juliana Bevilacqua presented an overview of the work and artistic trajectory of Agnaldo Manuel dos Santos, born in Ilha de Itaparica, BA - Brasil, in 1926. In 1947, he got a job as a guard at the sculptor Mário Cravo Júnior's studio and quickly became his assistant, showing great skill in handling various materials, including wood. Around 1953 Agnaldo became an artist, a wood sculptor.
Showing about 60 works, the exhibition's expography was organized in axes that contemplated major themes addressed in his art production: “Sculpting a Trajectory”, “The Universe of Carrancas”, “About People and Affection”, “Africa de Agnaldo” and “Between Saints and Ex-votos”, thus presenting the constant references to Brazilian cultures and traditions, a constant in his poetics.
Agnaldo has always been regarded by most art critics as a spontaneous creator, working from African resonances of the diaspora in his memory and unconscious. However, researching his work since 2013, the curator Juliana Bevilacqua resumed the artist's trajectory, presenting photos, testimonies, documents and texts in the exhibition that show how he circulated in the artistic world. From these records, it was possible to understand the role of research, contacts with other artists, the studies he carried out and the countless references he appropriated and redefined in his works. Thus, the curatorship presented an Agnaldo who lived and dialogued with other modern artists and made conscious choices that went with his African origins, subverting the place of “popular artist” in which many critics placed him.