October 7, 2022

An ode to the Brazilian back garden design pioneer, Roberto Burle Marx

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Sunder Nursery in Delhi is now house to a special juxtaposition, with photographs of Brazilian landscape types framed from Mughal-design and style gardens at the Unesco Environment Heritage web site.

In a person of the pictures taken by foremost architectural photographer Leonardo Finotti, pavements, lined with palm trees, unfurl in a meandering design to mimic the waves of the adjoining Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro. In another photograph, pockets of greenery increase out of geometric modernist layouts at the Banco Safra in São Paulo. These images are element of a photographic essay by Finotti depicting Brazilian designer Roberto Burle Marx’s most legendary backyard garden designs, designed from the 1930s-90s.

“He was a painter and built tapestries, costumes, and jewellery as properly. But Roberto Burle Marx—a genuine Renaissance man, visionary and artist—is most remembered right now for his pioneering landscape models,” mentioned a 2016 article in Vogue that marked his retrospective at New York’s Jewish Museum.

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Burle Marx, who died in 1994, was the initially in the state to transfer away from the landscape traditions impressed by European aesthetics to develop a definitely Brazilian language. He built-in architecture with landscape and utilised tropical plants—considered wild and disorderly, notable only for their anthropological value—to instil satisfaction in the regional vegetation. Burle Marx, who frequented India in the 1970s, was in actuality so fascinated in the environment and biodiversity that he led a number of expeditions, into the Pantanal and the Amazon for instance, and found many new species.

The exhibition to celebrate his legacy is staying held as aspect of “Building Brazil: 200 A long time of Independence” celebrations in Delhi. “We desired to participate in on the contrasts involving his types and Sunder Nursery,” claims André Aranha Corrêa do Lago, Brazil’s ambassador to India.

The show comes at an opportune time, due to the fact out of doors spaces have acquired significance for the duration of the pandemic. Burle Marx, of training course, was developing gardens as social spaces back in the 1930s. “He propagated the concept of community areas as democratic and secure spaces,” says do Lago.

Brazilian metropolitan areas these kinds of as Rio de Janeiro have followed almost the very same trajectory of urbanisation as Indian metros like Delhi, with the percentage of green public spaces decreasing with every single passing ten years. Recognising this, Burle Marx attempted to make inexperienced interventions, converting highways into public spaces where people today could wander and enjoy character. “How do you ensure that flyovers really do not divide metropolitan areas? If you have to build a highway or a flyover, how do you remodel it into a practical public place which is inclusive for all? He requested thoughts this kind of as these,” says do Lago.

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Site visitors to Sunder Nursery will not sense they are viewing an alien visual vocabulary. For it has the exact same modernist roots as that of Charles Correa and Raj Rewal, with the emphasis on social spaces. As do Lago puts it, Burle Marx’s do the job, just like the work of these Indian architects, is massively symbolic of Brazil’s nation-creating process. “He went over and above the European cultural styles. He integrated architecture with landscape, breaking absolutely free from cultural colonisation. In the 20th century, international locations these kinds of as ours were being searching for identification as a result of urbanism but pretty couple of architects were being capable to achieve that through patterns. Burle Marx stands out in this context,” he suggests. In 2021, his own farmhouse and back garden close to Rio de Janeiro was integrated in the checklist of Unesco Earth Heritage web-sites.

When Burle Marx visited India, he purchased hundreds of vegetation and incorporated them in numerous of his layouts in Brazil, this sort of as the Flamengo Park in Rio de Janeiro, the greatest general public park in the planet. And some of the species that he identified through his expeditions—such as the Philodendron Burle Marx and the Calathea Burle Marx—can be found in Indian nurseries now.

So it is only apt that an exhibition about his is effective be held in India, a state that encouraged him. “Leonardo Finotti took photographs of his operate for an exhibition in Paris. His aerial views increase an exciting dimension to Burle Marx’s apply. Prior to him, none of the gardens were designed to be noticed from the sky, as there were no towers in the cities. Nonetheless, he made landscapes in a way that they offer you a spectacular perspective from the prime as well,” says do Lago.

Burle Marx at Delhi’s Sunder Nursery, a photographic essay by Leonardo Finotti, can be seen till 18 April.

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