Gilson Tupinambá


Gilson Corrêa de Melo is from the Tupinambá ethnic group of the Tapajós River region of Pará state in Amazonia. He is a farmer, craftsman and artist specialised in painting, as well as an academic on the Public Management and Regional Development course at the Federal University of West Pará (UFOPA).  

Gilson started plastic arts in the 1970s, alongside his uncle Divanor Tupinambá, and during his childhood learned from his ancestors the technique of Tessumes – utensils that carry the graphics of his people. In the 1980s, he studied plastic arts at the Antônio Camargo Fona School of Art where he began to produce and market his paintings. In 2019, he participated in the exhibition “Os Traços Amazônicos” (Amazonian Traits), at the first Alter-do-Chão Film Festival.

His works depict the natural landscapes of the Amazon, looking at sacred spaces, the home of spirits in the cosmology of the Indigenous peoples of Tapajós. He makes explicit reference to the hydrological cycle of the Amazon; many of his canvases portray the landscapes that are formed through the journey of waters, from the flood and ebb of rivers to igapós (swamp forests), lakes, islands and sandbars. His works often mix patterns from the 13 indigenous peoples of the lower Tapajós in symbolic representations of enchanted beings, such as the anaconda ("cobra-grande"), the boto (pink dolphin), the tortoise and the large fish, among others, which represent the union, strength and resistance of the Indigenous peoples.

The painter used latex from the rubber tree as the basis of his canvases, colouring it with primary and secondary tones. In portraying the indigenous cosmology, he expresses a critical view on the destruction of forests and rivers, highlighting the importance of Indigenous ways of life for the maintenance of these spaces, as well as the union of the 13 peoples of the lower Tapajós (Morada dos Encantados) and the importance of natural environments for the piracema, the fish reproduction period (O peixinho/a piracema).