Eucalipto - corpo elétrico


Oil on canvas

100 × 76 cm (39 3/8 × 29 15/16 in.)

For the series from which this work is taken, Oba chose the name “body electric” as a tribute to Walt Whitman's ode of the same name, in which the American poet celebrates the union of soul, body, and nature. The painting depicts a supernatural, mystical, hallucinatory scene that echoes symbolist and surrealist aesthetics. At the foot of a eucalyptus tree with a levitating trunk cut in two, a black body, with a haloed head in the manner of the holy figures of the Italian Primitive altarpieces, is lying on the ground. In a form of reverence or of communion, he holds out a goblet to the moon, which appears in a bluish twilight sky. In the popular wisdom of healers, the eucalyptus is a tree that attracts positive energy, calms the emotions, the breathing, and blood circulation.

According to Antonio Oba, this painting is an exaltation of a set of minute everyday sensations, the little things that are dear to him—the smell of leaves, the changes in the colour and luminosity of the sky, the vibrations of the ground when walking barefoot—as much as an invitation to live in harmony with one's environment. “For me, all of this constitutes a series of experiences and learnings that have taken place through oral teachings, through my maternal grandmother and grandfather; and this oral tradition, this wisdom in the unwritten knowledge passed down from generation to generation, is a very present aspect . . .; the ‘magic' words of a healer, the onomatopoeias, the idioms and jargon of the country dialect are the true wellsprings of a culture to which I am emotionally linked and which I revive when I visit Minas Gerais, for example, in deepest Brazil, walking its streets, listening to Milton Nascimento, or reading Guimarães Rosa.”