Abdias Nascimento was an actor, activist, national politician, and self-taught artist from Rio de Janeiro. The chapter examines how this artist used his paintings to pay homage to the gods of the Afro-Brazilian religion Candomblé, as well as everyday black Brazilians. The chapter then discusses how Nascimento exemplified the group mentality characteristic of modern black artistic production through his strong focus on honoring Brazil’s African cultural traditions and his self-identification with Africans from the continent and across the Diaspora. Lastly, the chapter explores how his American audiences had to be told that Nascimento’s works reflected “blackness” or African influences, as they could not read his visual vocabulary when the artist exhibited his religious-themed paintings in the United States during a period of self-imposed exile (1968-1981).
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