Abstract

This article examines the relationship between exile and artistic primitivism, focusing on the experiences of European artists who sought refuge in twentieth-century Brazil. It begins by looking at broad issues of acculturation to Brazilian society, through a cursory examination of the biographies of artists Carybé, Hansen-Bahia, and Pierre Verger, all of whom engaged directly with Afro-Brazilian culture in Bahia. It then proceeds to a detailed discussion of the concept of transcendental homelessness, drawn from Lukács’s The Theory of the Novel, as an overarching category encompassing both exile and primitivism. It concludes with a case study of painter Dimitri Ismailovitch, born in Kyiv and active in Rio de Janeiro, whose work straddles the borderline between cultural appropriation and transculturation. The role of emulation, conversion, and the carnivalesque as strategies affording cultural conviviality is analyzed. How does the condition of exile overlap with racial difference, and can it play a role in overriding it? The intersection of the exilic imagination with diasporic imaginaries deserves further scrutiny.

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