Sao Felix Baiano - Reconcavo


Cultural treasures

Particularly in the 20th century, Bahia exercised a decisive influence over Brazil’s cultural life. The “regionalists,” for example, undertook a creative exploration of their direct environment. These included the author Jorge Amado, the painter Carybe, the musician Dorival Caymmi, the sculptor Mario Cravo or the Hamburg-born woodcarver Hansen Bahia, to name but a few.

Only a little later, in the mid-1950s, a musician from Bahia went to Rio de Janeiro. His name: Joao Gilberto. His influence: he was one of the founders and the most important composer of the bossa nova, Brazil’s only musical style to enjoy international success. At the same time, another group of artists formed around the filmmaker Glauber Rocha. Some members of this loose-knit group, such as Calasans Neto and Tati Moreno, are now among Brazil’s best-known contemporary artists.

At the end of the 1960s, Bahianos again triggered a cultural revolution – with the Tropicalismo movement. These include Caetano Veloso and his sister Maria Bethania, Gilberto Gil, (who was later to become Minister of Culture), and Tom Ze.

For many of these creative artists, the Recôncavo offered an almost inexhaustible source of inspiration. The painter and muralist Carybe celebrated great successes with his series of drawings entitled “Recôncavo.” Jorge Amado frequently touched upon the region in his books. Hansen Bahia spent the last years of his life there and Caetano Veloso and his sister were even born there. In his book “Viva o povo Brazileiro,” published in English as “An Invincible Memory,” the writer Joao Ubaldo Ribeiro provides very precise descriptions of both the Recôncavo and the island of Itaparica. Large sections of the book are set in the 19th century – it is astonishing how little has changed since then.