All the love that remains...

Saudade by José Ferraz de Almeida Júnior
Brazil //  Realism
Painted with oil paints on a 197 × 101 cm canvas
Currently on display at Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo

Saudade is an oil painting finished in 1899 by Brazilian artist & designer José Ferraz de Almeida Júnior. What makes this painting so remarkable is the conveyance of the word “saudade” clearly written on the subjects face. Saudade is one of those words that has no English equivalent.

Saudade is described as a longing – a profound melancholy – for what was. But it goes deeper than that: Its a “love that remains” after someone is gone; An emptiness for the buried knowledge that the object of longing – a family member, a homeland, an unborn baby, a lost lover – will never return.

“Saudade brings a feeling of happiness and sadness at the same time – a sadness for missing something so loved yet a happiness that you experienced the love.”

What a powerful word and what a powerful painting. I don’t know about you, but reading that explanation instantly brought up such strong emotions – we inherently know exactly what saudade means. It is the hurt inside that we don’t speak about for fear of breaking down. It’s a crack that sits right in the heart of your body. A pain that won’t leave but so ingrained as a part of who you are that you would never want it to leave, even if you could wish it away.

You know what I’m talking about.

Phew.. now back to the artist: – Almeida Junior is regarded as one of Brazils most famous/influential artists – he has even been called the “national painter” of Brazil. His birthday (8th May) is now celebrated as Artists Day in Brazil; “Dia do Artista Plástico”. Almeida Junior had a knack for depicting honest, humanistic scenes of rustic life of Sao Paulo.

He died tragically when he was just 49 years old – it seems he was carrying on a long-standing affair with a lady called Maria Laura do Amaral Gurgel who unfortunately happened to be married to his very jealous cousin. The cousin found out about the ongoing affair and confronted Almeida Junior out the front of the Hotel Central in Piracicaba and stabbed him to death. Almeida Junior left a legacy of inspiration to all subsequent modernist painters. He defied tradition and carved a new niche of realism painting in Brazil. Be sure to check out his other works on art of Wiki-Art. You’re sure to be inspired.

“I can’t let go, so I remember... I have to remember. Because memories are all I have left.”

― Ranata Suzuki