Francisco Rodrigues, a.k.a NUNCA (1983, São Paulo), is a multidisciplinary artist based in São Paulo. His practice is rooted in the urban environment and attuned to the concept of Cultural Cannibalism: a notion identified by the 1920’s Brazilian Modernists describing the way local traditional cultures are transformed by external influences through globalization, and how worldwide information interferes in the construction or destruction of someone’s identity.
NUNCA started painting in the streets of São Paulo at twelve years old and rapidly developed an extremely distinctive style, which is the result of a dialogue between ancient and modern. His characteristic volume rendering refers to antique metal etching, the technique used by the first conquerors to portray indigenous tribes and African slaves brought to the New World. These representations designed by Europeans, which are the roots of the creation of modern and contemporary stereotypes and prejudices towards the Other, were used to subjugate people into a colony of the Mother Country, resulting in the supremacy of the ‘coloniser’ over the ‘colonised’.
NUNCA keeps questioning the human and cultural phenomenon, emphasizing the long-gone borders of global cultural expression and local identities. The artist responds to the cultural legacies of colonialism and the human consequences of controlling images and symbols. His oeuvre confronts the modern urban world with its native past and investigates the equilibrium between trade, nature and humans, with the desire to part from a binary society that prevents the multiplicity of ethnicities, of truths, of histories and traditions.
With their blonde hair, green eyes, modern tattoos, and ancient accessories, NUNCA’s Indigenous seem stuck between two worlds. These modern-days cannibals are the living proof of the contradiction. They are an assessment of metaphors and parallels that the artist sees between past civilizations and current trends.
In the Brazilian context where there are an estimated 340 different ethnicities and indigenous groups, who still have a cultural diversity which is under threat at all times, NUNCA’s practice represents an attempt to deal with this inexorable loss.
In a society more and more homologated and flattened by globalization, dominated by mass consumerism and its consequences, NUNCA advocates the creation of a new generation rooted in a universal concept of culture based on the inclusion of the Other rather than on relations of supremacy. A unique new man able to encompass and represent all the diversity.
NUNCA has exhibited in important institutions all around the world including: Southampton Arts Center, 2021; ArtScience Museum, Singapore, 2018; Frestas Triennial, Soroccaba, Brazil, 2017; SESC Museum, São Paulo, 2016; Oaxaca Museum of Contemporary Art, Oaxaca, Mexico, 2013; Grand Palais, Paris, 2009; Tate Modern, London, 2008; Museum of Modern Art, São Paulo, 2007; Caixa Cultural, Rio de Janeiro, 2007; AfroBrasil Museum, São Paulo, 2006.His work has been exhibited also in many galleries around the world, including São Paulo, Hong Kong, Beijing, Paris, Montreal and Frankfurt.