A new History of Art under the eyes of Ismael Silva.

Ismael Silva, 2021.

Johannes Vermeer’s painting “Young lady with a pearl earring” is considered one of the most famous Dutch paintings, because it represents the ideal of beauty in the 17th century. The artist used the pearl as a symbol for purity and virginity.

Johannes Vermeer, XVII

In 2021, Ismael Silva in his photograph portrayed an Afrobrazilian woman with a conch earring, a photograph with so much power, strength and beauty. Just as Vermeer’s pearl earring had many layers of symbolism , the money cowry shell (buzios) in Ismael Silva’s photography also brings clues about an underlying meaning .

Búzios in Afrobrazilian religions are considered as a medium of communication between humans and orixás. Throwing buzios in a divination process creates a spiritual and sentimental bond between the participants. Its use in the portrait underlines the importance of the African heritage for Afrobrazilians..

When Ismael Silva took a photograph of a black woman wearing a shell earring, in addition to representing that African spirit, he inaugurated a new artistic, poetic and aesthetic representation. It’s a photographic narrative that praises black beauty, associates the female with strength, power and glory and introduces the symbol of Afrobrazilian religiosity as a guiding thread.

Written by Alysson Camargo, edited by Yannis Papadopoulos

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Alysson Camargo

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