Curated by Denise Mattar, the show Ismael Nery - Em busca da essência (In search of essence) comprises 61 works including paintings, drawings and watercolors, besides selected poems by the artist.
Nery swam against the current of academics and modernists: his work did not seek social aspects, nor beauty; neither did it preach a drastic break with the past. Mystical and catholic when intellectuality defended atheism, he built a universal plastic vocabulary while his fellow artists dove head first into nationalism.
Nery´s sole subject matter was human beings. A human being deliberately stripped of all references in relation to time and space. A human being driven by the search for self and its union with others; which tries to understand by looking at the reflection in the mirror, and who is scared upon seeing an unrecognized face. In his portraits and self-portraits, Nery shows the Divine self and the Satanic self, the male and female self, fusing with his friend the poet Murilo Mendes, and his wife, the poet Adalgisa Nery, one of the great inspirations for his work, as was his tragic family.
In the pictures by Ismael Nery, estimated at a mere one hundred oils, drawing was a fundamental component. The freedom afforded by the technique was perfectly suited to the fast thinking of the artist. Notably, in his last works, the artist achieved a causticity and subtlety which made him a precursor of contemporary artists.