The first thing I notice when looking at Pomar’s masterpiece of motion Gadanheiro (reaper) is the peculiar perspective. As a viewer I look up at the reaper whose heft spills from the frame. I see the underside of his chin, the foreshortened handle, the strong body. Sure it is a dance. Isn’t anything rhythmic like this just such? Any muscle memory. The reaper closes his eyes and tilts his head as he muscles the blade through a batter of wheat like a jazzman at the piano wandering through the scales, forgetting the very basic truth that it is his hands which pull magic into the air.
He is larger than the hills, bigger than the sky, and his blade lords over it all. To his gleaming tool, free of rust or wear unlike his clothing, he seems to simply listen, allowing his body to swing freely.
Or is it perhaps (“perhaps”: the sin of any art writer) that he looks away in pain? His eyes tight, his mouth formed into a frown just as his muscles have formed into knots that fit the swing and slice of repetition. Is it that he can no longer stomach to look at the brilliant violence of his work? Or, does he bite his thumb at the menial labor before him?
The thing that might separate this piece from a portrait glorifying manual labor (that separates it from a soviet portrait) is the interpretation of the the Gadanheiro’s face.
Long ago when I was yung naive art, I worked at a sheep farm eating weeds.
Two things stand out in my memories from those days: boredom and shoulder pain. Had I spent more time on the farm, perhaps my body would have changed to account for the imbalance and I would have been left with boredom.
Might our Gadanheiro have succumb of just this boredom? After all, judging by the fields of yellow behind him, and the inching darkness above, he’s involved in a Sisyphean task.
I think not.
The chalk-like thick brushwork of the focal is not the work of Pomar but the stroke of the Gadanheiro. Likewise, the swooping sky swoops with him and the curving hills curve with him and the threadbare clothes cling to his pendula. The way the earth and surroundings are the creation of the Gadanheiro is exalted and divine feeling. This is no bored worker, but an artist of the land, the inspiration of his own painting.
This painting I believe is intended to be a celebration of motion. With thick, coarse, vibrant, emotive patterns and strokes, Pomar elevates the low art of husbandry into something religious. What the Gadanheiro thinks of Pomar’s task and of his own, is all in the face.
Is it communist? Yeah probably. It’s fucking excellent communist prop…sign me up bitches.