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the Art of Silence


January 18, 2021

Photo: Kithi

The time for the physical farewell has arrived. Silence fills Matilde Matos, but her spoken words will remain like those that wrote the history of the plastic arts of Bahia.

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What catches my attention and 'pops my eyes' in Matilde Matos is her capacity for transgression when trying to achieve the 'not-yet-daring', and consequently her contribution in provoking the female universe as a capacity for intellectual production, active and transforming the environment in which he lives.


In the 1970s, Matilde pointed the direction of the artistic gaze towards respect for our Northeastern traditions, our material and immaterial culture, equality between races and the appreciation of the feminine through the very act of doing everything you wanted, without getting stuck limits imposed by society.

Without the vanity of the weight of knowledge, Matilde's main focus was plastic artists who were starting their careers, without ever forgetting the veterans.

Discovering new ones was a daily agenda.

He loved to visit the ateliers and see up close the work taking shape in the hands of its creator, and from there weave his critical texts based on his experience with the artist. "She wrote what she saw and what she felt," says artist Leonel Mattos.


Suas palavras que serviram de incentivo para muitos, também foram amargas para alguns artistas. Ela mesmo conta que uma certa vez João Falcão, dono do jornal que trabalhava, perguntou sobre um determinado artista que ficou ofendido com o seu texto e ela afirmou: "não posso mudar o que escrevi. Ele não é bom". E João acatou.                                                             


Unidentified source - Matilde Matos file

Matilde “always did what she wanted. Regardless of anyone's opinion”, says Edison da Luz, plastic artist.

Fearless and owner of Página Quente, a daily column of Jornal da Bahia, she bravely followed the path of everything she believed in. Even at the time of the dictatorship Matilde spoke her mind.

She believed in the need to re-educate the look and make art in Bahia/Brazil, which was focused on styles produced abroad.

Along with a group, led by Edison da Luz, Matilde, in her texts, suggests a dive into the very roots: a genuinely Brazilian art, committed to our cultural truth. Etsedron is born.  


Etsedron is Northeast end to beginning. Naked, twisted, visceral.


With the end of the dictatorship, the light of Brazilianness rose, and for Matilde there was an urgent need for a new art, without the foreign appearance that determined the styles of the time.


The movement of artistic making was already visible in the engravings and paintings of Edison da Luz, who consciously was already moving towards a trend that would imprint the Brazilian identity, which until then was not so visible in the plastic arts, as the week of 22 brought a strong influence from overseas lands.

The will of both united in a single direction: to create a movement where the essence of the new art came from the roots. From the experience of each one with the local culture.


As they are from the Northeast, she from Caicó, Rio Grande do Norte, and he from Bahia, this territory is the initial center of action, hence the name. Then came, in a milder form, the experience lived in the North.


With firm purpose Edison begins to research materials. He, who already made sculpture, discovered in the vine the ideal element to give form to its essence.

Cipó Kithi PQ.jpg

Unidentified source - Matilde Matos file

PQ Revista do Jornal da Bahia - Edição e

 Jornal da Bahia Magazine - Special Edition 1973 

After Edison found the main element of creation in the vine, Matilde theoretically elaborates the project based on anthropology, sociology and ethnography, identifying the origin of the art.

With the direction found, it was necessary to echo the result of the work. The path was São Paulo. The Biennial.


And there they built a mud house with all the utensils and habits of the sertanejo, interspersed with the vine sculptures. On the ground the scattered earth. Dialoguing with the work and being part of it, a performance was held with several Bahian artists who participated in the attempt.

The encounter between the visceral and the intelligentsia was the basis of Etsedron, the only plastic arts movement in Bahia to cross the state border and conquer the space devoted to plastic arts in Brazil: the Bienal.

And the world knew the art criticism that drew attention for identifying at its origin the possibility of a new art, an art that exercised the essential character of expressing the historical and cultural reality of a multicolored land.

Although Etsedron was awarded at the Bienal and achieved visibility in the world, the project whose essence was/is the culture denied, has never been recognized by Bahia, until today.

Matilde read the column written by her on April 20, 1975 talking about the artists chosen by the state government.

In the search to realize what she believed in, Matilde works to overcome herself in the rupture with the surrounding universe.

There were so many fronts that dialogued and spoke out beyond and through art itself that we can say that Matilde Matos revealed the art of Bahia, opened paths for women on the various fronts of occupation and work and faced the fight against racism.


As a journalist, she was the only woman to cover the inauguration of Brasília; as a businesswoman and producer, she was the founder of Escola EBEC and Ebec Galeria de Arte - open to new and old artists, supporting everyone who passed through the scrutiny of her critical eye; and as a human being, she was one of the first 'white' women to publicly take up dating an Afro-descendant, even having to invent ways to circumvent racist society so that they could stay in the country's hotel chain.

Matilde was inexplicable . A woman who acted spontaneously and spoke in several languages , from the popular to the most refined, and without worrying about wanting to be, she became one of the main references in the history of plastic arts in the country.

In 2014, at the age of 87, Matilde called me and said: “I want a page in some newspaper in the city. I want to go back to writing. Tell me who is in front of the newspapers so I can look for them”.


This is Matilde! Three times Save!

Watch the documentary Matilde Matos: the art of silence.

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