The painter, draftsman, and engraver Gilvan [José de Meira Lins] Samico (1928–2013) began his art career in the early 1950s, when he was a member of the Sociedade de Arte Moderna do Recife (1952), an association that was founded by Abelardo da Hora and whose members started the Ateliê Coletivo. Samico studied woodcut engraving with Lívio Abramo at the MAM-SP’s handcrafts school, and a year later, in 1958, studied printmaking under Oswaldo Goeldi at the Escola de Belas Artes in Rio de Janeiro. In 1971, at the urging of the novelist Ariano Suassuna (1927?2014), Samico joined the Armorial movement, a group devoted to popular culture that was interested in re-introducing traditional ballads and the literatura de cordel—literally “string literature”—that consisted of short stories, illustrated with woodcuts, published in inexpensive editions that were sold in markets hanging on a rope or a piece of string.
As a result of the military coup of 1964, the poet and art critic [José Ribamar] Ferreira Gullar (b. 1930), who had contributed to the theoretical groundwork and practice of the neo-concrete movement, became an (anti-elitist) critic of the country’s social problems. He joined the PCB (Brazilian Communist Party) and, to a certain extent, was affiliated with the CPCs (Centros Populares de Cultura). In fact, this essay mentions the expectations that were aroused by those who wanted to draw on popular culture as a source of inspiration for contemporary works of art.