TRANSMISSIONS OF ECOLOGICAL MEMORY THROUGH VISUAL ART IN BAHIAN CANDOMBLÉ

Zainabu Jallo

This paper is situated within the realms of Eco spirituality, a term used to describe the expression of the otherworldly connection between human beings and the ecosystem. It integrates an intuitive and corporeal awareness of all life and acknowledges the relational view of human to the environment. 
It explores the visual representations of Bahian Candomblé. Candomblé is the appellation given to a Brazilian religion originating in the North-Eastern state of Bahia, Brazil. Its principles and ritual practices were brought to Brazil by African slaves from the 16th century. 
I shall focus on paintings that complement and further enforce the entangled interactions between the representation of Candomblé deities and current issues of ecology with a focus on the paintings of Abdias dos Nascimento (1914-2011).
Nascimento’s` art is often conveyed through a political-cultural lens towards a deeper appreciation of the various African influences in Brazilian art. Specifically, his artworks focused on the subject of orixás and he asserts that “African spirituality offers an approach to life and nature that speaks directly and clearly to the world of feelings inside all of us”. (Nascimento 411) In line with Herbert Marcuse’s notion that: “Art cannot change the world, but it can contribute to changing the consciousness of the men and women who could change the world.” (Marcuse 32-33), this paper adopts a comparative analysis between images that illustrate the veneration of the forces of nature, and the lived-practices of Candomblé offerings that are, in some cases, contradictory of the reverence of nature. 

Marcuse, Herbert, and Erica Sherover. The Aesthetic Dimension. Macmillan, 1979. 
Nascimento, Milton. “African Culture in Brazilian Art” Journal of Black Studies 8, no. 4(Jun. 1978) pp. 389-422. 

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