To Mário Cravo Neto, the feeling of being in the world is that we are guardians of nature. He collected rocks: big, small, from the ground, from the ocean. The rock was the symbol. The abode of the Gods. There are countless of these photos with his favorite rocks and models. The shots, he decided at the time. He would walk down the studio-lab stairs holding his Hasselblad and many film roles. He then would go to the big studio where there was always a huge tarp hanging. He set everything up by himself or with Pedro, the family’s employee, and I always helped with the production.
We had two little children, Lukas and Akira, and ducks, dogs, animals we bought at the Feira de São Joaquim to pet and photograph. It was all a big party. There was no cell phone, computer or internet. We were happy and free. This was around 1987 until 1992, maybe. Everyone wanted to pose for him then. At the street, the fair, the studio, the beach… Mário thought it was funny and took many pictures. His friends, the models, used to say he was a white man with a black soul. Pierre Verger was a friend of his and a master he admired and respected. Mário Cravo Neto had the same motto as Brancusi, the great romenian sculptor:
“To create like a God
To rule like a king
And to work like a slave”
And we all worked, as a family. In the morning he went to the studio-lab, with a cup of coffee in hand, giving orders: to Pedro, the loyal family employee; to the boys, Lukas and Akira; and to whomever was on his way. There was routine and spartan discipline in our lives. In the morning he took care of bureaucracies, letters to exhibitions, to the bank, and always, at morning’s end, welcomed guests: young artists, journalists, interviewers.
One of the photos shows a strange object with american ballet dancer Clyde Morgan posing by it. The object came years before from a junkyard owned by his friend Pisca Pisca and was kept in the big studio. One day Clyde came to Bahia to visit friends and called Mário. He was then invited to a photoshoot. And it all happened under an exquisite light. This is how he created.
He would walk by his domains with a book by Carl Jung, another one by Goethe, another by Kieerkegaard, and others. Life and spirit absorbed him. His older children, Lua e Christian, who lived with their mother in Denmark, would come during their school break. They couldn’t escape having their photos taken.
In another photo, Bené Fonteles with the native’s feathers. It all happened in 1990 when Bené came from Brasília to visit and have lunch with us. Lukas was then six months old and Bené brought gifts: red macaw feathers, a mother’s sling and sweet green papaya. He brought Carole Naggar’s dictionary he got from Vicente. Bené talks about the future, the light of year 2011, the music yet to come!
And like this we would live, with Mário always taking pictures. The portraits of Cravo Jr, his father and friend, are from this period. He loved posing to his son! His mother, Mrs Lúcia Ferraz Cravo, also posed. Such an expressive portrait, very much like her own fight to raise four children and live with her sculptor husband, dramatic.
The photos at the big studio would happen by day and at times by night. It was all spontaneous. After the photo sessions, he’d come up and reveal the Hasselblad films. While it dried up, in the other room where it all happened, he’d put on some nice jazz, some Billie Holiday, Miles Davis and many others. Vinyl disc times. In that room he selected and worked on the sequence of his books, still only in his dreams.
He was always preparing a book. Eternal Now began at this time and was only printed and published in 2002. In the meantime, Laroyê was published. The next day he took the revealed films and, only with the red light on, printed the ones he liked. Once dried, he selected what would be printed at size 50 x 60 cm, numbered, signed and dated in twenty-five copy editions. Usually he did only one! The rest was kept.
Another portrait is of me with a broken piece of clay sculpture by Ramiro Bernabó, childhood friend, artist, sculptor, painter, ceramist and son of Carybé. Mário said Ramiro was the only artist in Bahia. There, at Ramiro’s studio, he always found treasures, like the clay pot I held for another photo of this series. Nature and time were precious. According to Jung, instinct is the fundament of human nature.
At last, Carlinhos Brown modeling, with an outfit Mário created out of tire tubes at the photo studio of long time friend Carlos Gordilho. The photoshoot was for Brown’s album cover. I could tell much more. It was seventeen years of living together. To Mário, everything he felt was reason enough to eternalize the now.
Angela Cunha, March 2021