May 26, 2024

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

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Sunder Nursery in Delhi is at present house to a distinctive juxtaposition, with images of Brazilian landscape layouts framed from Mughal-style gardens at the Unesco Globe Heritage web page.

In a single of the images taken by foremost architectural photographer Leonardo Finotti, pavements, lined with palm trees, unfurl in a meandering structure to mimic the waves of the adjoining Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro. In yet another photograph, pockets of greenery develop out of geometric modernist patterns at the Banco Safra in São Paulo. These images are aspect of a photographic essay by Finotti depicting Brazilian designer Roberto Burle Marx’s most iconic garden models, created from the 1930s-90s.

“He was a painter and developed tapestries, costumes, and jewelry as well. But Roberto Burle Marx—a genuine Renaissance person, visionary and artist—is most remembered today for his revolutionary landscape layouts,” pointed out 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 very first in the nation to transfer away from the landscape traditions motivated by European aesthetics to produce a truly Brazilian language. He built-in architecture with landscape and employed tropical plants—considered wild and disorderly, notable only for their anthropological value—to instil satisfaction in the community vegetation. Burle Marx, who frequented India in the 1970s, was in reality so intrigued in the setting and biodiversity that he led numerous expeditions, into the Pantanal and the Amazon for occasion, and learned quite a few new species.

The exhibition to rejoice his legacy is currently being held as element of “Building Brazil: 200 Many years of Independence” celebrations in Delhi. “We required to play on the contrasts involving his patterns and Sunder Nursery,” claims André Aranha Corrêa do Lago, Brazil’s ambassador to India.

The exhibit comes at an opportune time, since outdoor spaces have acquired great importance all through the pandemic. Burle Marx, of training course, was coming up with gardens as social areas back again in the 1930s. “He propagated the strategy of general public areas as democratic and risk-free areas,” claims do Lago.

Brazilian cities these as Rio de Janeiro have followed approximately the similar trajectory of urbanisation as Indian metros like Delhi, with the percentage of eco-friendly public spaces lowering with each and every passing 10 years. Recognising this, Burle Marx experimented with to create eco-friendly interventions, changing highways into community areas the place individuals could walk and love nature. “How do you ensure that flyovers don’t divide cities? If you have to make a freeway or a flyover, how do you completely transform it into a beneficial general public area which is inclusive for all? He asked inquiries this sort of as these,” states do Lago.

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People to Sunder Nursery will not come to feel they are viewing an alien visible vocabulary. For it has the very same modernist roots as that of Charles Correa and Raj Rewal, with the emphasis on social areas. As do Lago puts it, Burle Marx’s operate, just like the get the job done of these Indian architects, is vastly symbolic of Brazil’s country-constructing method. “He went over and above the European cultural products. He integrated architecture with landscape, breaking cost-free from cultural colonisation. In the 20th century, international locations this sort of as ours ended up hunting for identity by urbanism but pretty number of architects were being in a position to obtain that by layouts. Burle Marx stands out in this context,” he says. In 2021, his have farmhouse and backyard garden close to Rio de Janeiro was bundled in the listing of Unesco Earth Heritage sites.

When Burle Marx frequented India, he requested hundreds of vegetation and included them in a lot of of his patterns in Brazil, such as the Flamengo Park in Rio de Janeiro, the major 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 uncovered in Indian nurseries nowadays.

So it is only apt that an exhibition about his operates be held in India, a state that impressed him. “Leonardo Finotti took images of his operate for an exhibition in Paris. His aerial sights include an intriguing dimension to Burle Marx’s exercise. Before him, none of the gardens were built to be noticed from the sky, as there have been no towers in the towns. Nevertheless, he made landscapes in a way that they provide a gorgeous check out from the top rated as effectively,” claims do Lago.

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

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