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  • Writer's pictureAlysson Camargo

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

Updated: Jun 9, 2022

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.

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 conch (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.

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