Bispo do Rosario: All Existing Materials on Earth at Americas Society. (Image Arturo Sánchez)

Bispo do Rosario: All Existing Materials on Earth at Americas Society. (Image Arturo Sánchez)


The Divine Message That Made Bispo Do Rosario into an Artist

By Irini Zervas

"This exhibition is a rare opportunity…to gain access to [Bispo's] varied forms of expression," writes Hyperalleric about Americas Society's show.

A thickly embroidered garment known as the manto, or “annunciation garment,” stands in the middle of the first room in the Americas Society’s exhibition Bispo do Rosario: All Existing Materials on Earth. The manto, which the artist wore, is stitched with intricate patterns, images, and women’s names. With the manto and other wearable textiles, documentary photographs of the artist, and his hospital record cards, the exhibition places Arthur Bispo do Rosario (1909–1989) at the center of a world the viewer is about to enter. 

This solo presentation is the artist’s first in the United States and the third exhibition by an artist of African descent at the Americas Society in New York City. Arthur Bispo do Rosario was born in the early 1900s in Japaratuba, Brazil. He was an apprentice sailor in the Brazilian Navy, where he became a signalman, and later was also a boxer and an attendant to a wealthy family. In 1938, he had a vision that he was Jesus Christ. He believed he received a mandate from God to replicate the entire world in preparation for the Last Judgment. Subsequently, Bispo was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and committed to the Colonia Juliano Moreira in Rio de Janeiro, an institution for mentally ill people where he spent the rest of his life. From the facility, he created over 1,000 artworks including embroidered textiles and sculptures, 71 of which are featured in this exhibition alongside a plethora of found objects.

“Thrice marginalized as a poor African descendant diagnosed with mental illness, Bispo do Rosario, like many other visionary artists, felt the need to reorganize the world and create an artistic language of his own after experiencing a life-changing epiphany,” the exhibition’s co-curator Javier Téllez told Hyperallergic in an interview. “The obsessive creation of textile works and the accumulation of objects drove him from chaos to order, and helped him survive the harsh conditions of the mental institution.”…

Bispo do Rosario: All Existing Materials on Earth continues at the Americas Society (680 Park Avenue, Upper East Side, Manhattan) through May 20. The exhibition was co-curated by Aimé Iglesias Lukin, Ricardo Resende, and Javier Téllez, with Tie Jojima.

Read the full article.