A BOY’S STORIES

Selections from Portinari Project documents about Candido Portinari’s childhood written by the painter himself, here presented alongside his works. We recommend using them in classrooms for 1st to 4th grade students.

COFFEE

I was born on a coffee plantation, Plantation Santa Rosa. My parents worked the land. We lived mostly out in the country.

CHILDREN PLAYING LEAPFROG

Our backyard stretched out in all directions, so we could play. The world was a place where everyone could enjoy the show given by the flowers and wind.

FOREST

The countryside was always the best place to be. There were wild berries all year round and we knew every corner, every tree.

SCARECROW

We started opening our eyes to life. A life inhabited by dreams, by being worn out, and by great big fears.

SCARECROW

During the day they told us stories about werewolves and ghosts from the beyond. At night the sound of the wind over the land would terrify us.

MUSIC BAND

There were a lot of festivals with bands playing music.

MUSICIAN

Old Murari formed a local band and was the first maestro. A quiet, kind old man. He always wore black alpaca.

CIRCUS

This time the circus came, with Tôni the clown, an acrobat and tightrope walker. Here our dreams also took us to other places.

GIRL WITH BRAID AND BOW

We saw the girls all dressed up, with their hair fixed and make-up on. What a surprise to see them looking so pretty. No doubt this was love.

SITTING GIRL

Children’s courtship swells with poetry. I loved many of my cousins.

HEAD OF GIRL

One of them, who I was closer to, looked like a film star We went everywhere together.

GIRL WITH BRAID AND BOW

The teacher’s sister-in-law was single and very pretty. Everyone had a crush on her.

CHILDREN PLAYING

We would show off for her during recess when she stood at the window: we did somersaults, handstands.

SAD MUSICIAN

On Sundays at the bandstand, the young men and women would plan to meet. After the concert the band would play for the movie theater.

BOYS SWINGING

Father Josué came as vicar, a good man and friend to the children. He soon organized a well-managed school and transformed the square into a playing field, with a seesaw, swing, monkey bars, hoops.

SOCCER

We played different games depending on the month or the time of day. During the day it was soccer.

BOYS FLYING KITES

August was the windy month, the month for flying kites and balloons. The string would disappear in the sky.

KIDS PLAYING LEAPFROG

At night we played tag or leapfrog.

BOY WITH SLINGSHOT

The swallows did acrobatics around the church steeple. They came and went and turned around again and again. We had a slingshot and a sling. But nobody shot at the swallows.

BOY WITH SHEEP

One day someone showed up on a little white sheep, fed by a bottle. Nobody was envious; we played with him as much as the owner did.

BOY WITH SHEEP

The animals lived among us all. The idea of owning other living creatures never passed through our mind.

MIGRANT BOY HOLDING CHEST

A boy showed up, the son of someone in Brodósqui. He was from Italy and he wore a hat. My greatest desire was to have a hat like that.

BOYS FLYING KITES

Our imagination fluttered like the kites in the sky. Dreams took shape, looking at the clouds whiter than snow.

SHEPHERD

I liked to lie in the grass and look at the stars; what a delight. We slept brimming with joy. We were always dreaming, whether we were asleep or not.

STILL LIFE

I started to dabble and to paint everything in color. I did an apple and inside the apple a table, then on top of the table I put another apple. I painted this I don’t know how many times.

LITTLE CLOWNS ON SEESAW

Do you know why I so often paint boys and girls on seesaws and swings? So they’ll be in the air, like angels.

DENISE WITH CAT

I always liked painting angels, even if they didn’t have wings. I suspect that angels have a special love for pets.

DIVINE SHEPHERDESS

I also painted angels running, with their great wings spread, carrying a little blue chest full of secrets.

PORTRAIT OF JOÃO CANDIDO

Everything moved around us like a swirl of magic. I’ll never forget my grandmother saying that heaven had angel food cake made of gold.

GIRL WITH BIRD

Poetry is the rarest of birds. It flies by quickly. We want to hold it, but it flies up and away.

SCARECROW

Mornings were beautiful when the sun appeared lighting everything up. Even the scarecrows didn’t seem as frightening. Colors came to life and made a magnificent effect.

BOY WITH SLINGSHOT

The wild flowers were so lovely. We knew well the birds, the sariemas, the saracuras and the armadillos. When we saw a hole in the ground we knew which creature it belonged to.

 
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PATROCÍNIO
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