Curator, Luis Perez-Oramas: Abaporu, a word constituted by two Tupi-Guarani words meaning "the man who eats human flesh," was painted by Tarsila in 1928 in order to be given as a birthday gift to her husband, Oswald de Andrade.
Artist, Tarsila do Amaral (voiced by curator Karen Grimson): I wanted to make a picture that would startle Oswald, something really out of the ordinary. The Abaporu was that monstrous figure, the little head, the skinny little arm supported by an elbow, those enormous long legs, and next to it a cactus that looked like a sun, as if it were a flower and the sun at the same time. So, when he saw the picture, Oswald was extremely startled and asked, “But what is this? What an extraordinary thing!”
** Luis Perez-Oramas:** This painting actually became the signature illustration of the Anthropophagic Manifesto written by Oswald de Andrade. Anthropophagy, or cannibalistic practices, were documented among native Brazilians. In the 1920s avant-garde Paris, there was an obsession with cannibalistic practices from surrealist intellectuals and artists. Oswald took this motif of cannibalism to suggest symbolically ingesting artistic influences from both modern European art and traditional Brazilian culture. The aim was to produce a hybrid style that was distinctly new, and distinctly Brazilian.