CARLOS FREIRE PHOTOGRAPHIC exhibition
PARIS 27 MARCH to 6 JUNE 2001 "TOUT DOIT DISPARAITRE"
When I told Carlos I didn't know whether I could go to Paris to his Vernissage because of the foot-and-mouth disease (the epidemic in the UK that is destroying the farmland and countryside tourism). I was afraid they may closed the frontier between England and France he answered with this sweet and amazing e-mail, saying " you have to come because the borders between the two countries are closed for young and adult goats and sheep but, as far as I know, YOU ARE NOT ON THE LIST?!"
He is one of the world's greatest photographer but he also has a huge sense of humour which I love. When I read the above message I had a good laugh.Together with his wife Heloisa Novaes, I find them a most jovial and energetic couple who are really pleasant and worthwhile friends. So I decided to get the Eurostar in this wet and cold English Spring only to find it raining in Paris! And some parts of France still having floods as I had seen in the newspapers.
I have know Carlos Freire since our teens in Rio de Janeiro and he spend his childhood playing football in the street of Rio in a district called "Saude"(Health). I think this experience of street life - this open freedom - is what has made him such a kind and giving person, human and genial yet such a formidable photographer!
When I came to live in London at the end of the '60s, although he was living in Paris we did not lose contact. In fact, I met him when he came to London with another Brazilian photographer to take photos of John Lennon and Yoko Ono. They gave me a set of slides (where John and Yoko were wearing whitesuits) - which I still have today.
So I went to Carlos' exhibition on 27 March 2001 featuring his universal achievements, he is an extremely creative photographer.Previously I had seen his exhibition "L'Esprit des Liex" at the Espace AGP in December 1989.
The catalogue for that exhibition had the most incredible photo of Congonha do Campo-Brazil, the light giving the sense of time's eternity. The exhibition also featured photos of Venice and every other place where Carlos has
been.It was to celebrate the Bicentenary of the French Revolution and 150th Anniversary of Photography.
I have also been to Naples twice for Carlos' exhibitions. The exhibition in 1992 was called "Naples, Royaume du Peuple". However, the first exhibition was one of portraits of intellectual, cultural people from all over the world, I personally think portrait is his forte, it was at Inst.
Grenoble-Via Crispi. The 1992 exhibition was about Naples at Villa Pignatelli. It was the first time I could walk in the streets of Naples without worry as Carlos accompanied me. Because of the work he was doing in the city, he and those with him gained great respect. So he could walk anywhere take whatever photos he wanted.
I remember him at a stall where he ate some tripe (uncooked belly of sheep). It was considered a delicacy! In England - not so much nowadays - but years ago tripe and onions was a delicacy among the London Cockneys the music-hall star Albert Chevalier sang a song about Cockney food and some lines mentioned tripe and onions). It was also popular in the North of England.So the stall-holder cut a piece of tripe, put some lemon on it, and Carlos devoured it with great joy. The stall-holder was very happy that such a famous man was enjoying his tripe! Carlos tried to make me eat some but I said "Are you crazy?" I was horrified!
We walked around and he introduced me to various people. He also took me to an amazing bookshop which had a library specialising in magic with artefacts,'devil' sculptures and fortune-telling cards, skulls. The people of Naples seem to be obsessed with death and devil. I was fascinated.
By coincidence in 1992 in Naples an artist, Pignon-Ernest a mural painter was in Naples, he did Pucinella, skulls, charms to ward off bad luck, the people of Naples are very superstitious. He painted them in his studio but, at night, would go around the city pasting them onto walls.
There is one street (SpaccaNapoli) sells purely Nativity scenes, sculpted in all sizes. One shop intrigued me - it was a stationers selling pens - but if you needed anything you had to hunt among his stock all on the floor, all piled up. I went into the shop with Carlos, Giuseppe and Silvia Palombi, editor of the Naples exhibition catalogue Charta from Milan.They bought two painting by the brother of the Parliamentary Deputy Onorevole De Mita, a very powerful man at that time. I was speechless at finding such painting in such a shop.