LETTER TO THE CONSULTANTS OF GLORIA HOTEL
My father, the artist João Martins, always said to me: “My daughter, money does not equal culture.”
Yesterday, after receiving some really bad news, I finally understood the meaning of his words. The consultants of the millionaire Eike Batista, who bought the Gloria Hotel at Rio de Janeiro, admitted (only after a note was published by columnist Victor Hugo on A GAZETA, in January 25th, saying that the Martins family was looking for news about the pannels) that, in reality, the six hand-painted tile panels my father had produced in the 1060s, at the request of Mr. Eduardo Tapajós, “could not be kept at the Gloria Hotel”. By e-mail, the consultants alleged that “since the panels were welded to concrete walls, they couldn´t be removed”. So they simply destroyed a work of art.
I have kept a postcard that my dad wrote to my mother when he was putting up the panels at Gloria Hotel. He was very young and had only just arrived from Portugal. These were his words: “I am being treated like a king, don´t worry”.
My last visit to the hotel was in the beginning of 2008. I visited the Rugendas Room, and all the panels that were there, preserved, impeccable. Just like the photographs show. The hand-painted panels – made in the oven of my father’s ceramics studio – the Martins Artistic Studio, located in São Paulo and owned by him from 1960 to1980 – remained at the Gloria Hotel for more than 50 years.
My soul hurts in face of such lack of sensitivity (because, since the beginning of the sale’s negotiations, I’d been trying to get in touch with the consultants, not only the ones at Gloria, but also the management at the Pink Fleet boat, which belongs to themillionaire too. I even wrote an e-mail to Eike Batista himself.
If they had answered me, the destiny of the panels would have been different. It´s hard to believe that the pieces couldn´t be removed (I am sure that if my father was alive, he would certainly know how to pluck them off the columns, since he was a master in this and in other arts). But surely it was possible.
Yesterday (31/01/2011), another note was published on Victor Hugo’s column, giving information about the panels’ destruction. I can only sit here and imagine the awful scene: the sledgehammer breaking everything down, merciless.
It would be hard to tell my father´s story in just a few lines. A portuguese who was born in Coimbra and came to Brazil in 1954, he was truly gifted in the arts. What I can say is that from 1960 to 1980, while living in São Paulo, he produced a great number of pieces. Some of his buyers and admirers include Juscelino Kubitscheck, Ulisses Guimarães, Olavo Setúbal, the playboy Baby Pignatari – who, back then, was married to Princess Ira of Furstenberg – and many others. He also worked at Burle Marx and at Eliane Ceramics, in Criciúma, Vitória, where he left hundreds of pieces.
My father wasn´t, for sure, a business man, since all that he got, he lost. He had the soul of an artist. What he liked the most was to lock himself and make art (ceramics, paintings, sculptures and others). By the end of his life, that was all that he did. But, already disappointed with the arts devaluation, he left a letter, which told to his son that all the pieces made by himself at the past years shouldn’t be sold or donated, but to remain with the five heirs.
Because of this, today my small apartment looks like an art gallery (I don´t even have space to hold so many pieces). But at leastthey are here, preserved. In Truth, there is something my father once told me that summarizes well his artistic soul:
“When I sell a piece, my dear, it feels like I am selling one of my children”. Someone like that, we have to agree, would never know how to measure his job in dollars. This is true inspiration. Art by art.
The Gloria´s panels were just one part of master João Martins´ collection – that, by destiny´s irony, has lots of pieces signed as “João Ninguém” - free translation: John Nobody - (one more moment of pure inspiration). And I am in search of all of them. I ask, gently, that the ones who has his pieces, please, be in touch with me. I want only the photographs to document it. In case that you don´t want them no more, I would like to have it. What I don´t want is that other pieces have the same destiny that the panels of Gloria Hotel. And Maybe, in a near future, put them to the public see.
I want to thank the journalist Claudia Feliz very much for discovering this story on Facebook and for paying the right attention to it. She saw the importance of publishing a note – and without it I would probably still be unaware of the tragic fate of the panels at Gloria Hotel.
* Translation Jéssica Verdini Martins