International House Philadelphia Presents "From Rio to Brotherly Love"

Peak Johnson, for GPA -- For more than 50 years, International House Philadelphia (IHP) has held a Global Gala, during which a different country or region of the world is celebrated. Along with the gala, IHP hosts various corresponding events to give a greater vision of the country’s culture, cuisine and art.

In 2014, IHP is honoring the country of Brazil. As part of their rotating fine art exhibition schedule, it had the opportunity to feature Daniel Gafanhoto, a Brazilian photographer whose work will be on display until June in an exhibition called “From Rio to Brotherly Love.”

“We chose Daniel’s work by way of our partnership with InLiquid Art & Design, a Philadelphia based nonprofit that shows an extensive online collection of work by local, national, and international artists to the public,” said Sasha Dages, marketing and communications manager at IHP’s Office of International Advancement. “International House has provided exhibition space to InLiquid artists for several years and we are very grateful for this relationship. After looking at the portfolios of the artists that InLiquid represents on their website, we came upon Daniel’s fantastic photography and were delighted to learn of his Brazilian heritage.”

The exhibit focuses on two major cities, Philadelphia and Rio de Janeiro, home to Gafanhoto.

Gafanhoto moved stateside in June of 2011 so his wife could pursue a fellowship at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

“While growing up, I always showed a lot of interest and appreciation for art but never found a way to express myself other than drawing, which I never really considered myself very good at,” Gafanhoto said. “Watching a close friend teach another some basic photography skills made me think of photography as something interesting to study.”

Studying social sciences for two years while attending universities in Rio De Janeiro, Gafanhoto realized that he wanted to mix his interest in that with the visual arts.

Photography, he said, was a perfect way to express himself and work with art and sociology at the same time.

“This show is about two major cities that are very globally known,” Gafanhoto said. “One is my home town in Brazil, Rio de Janeiro, and the other is my first home city in the United States, Philadelphia. Both former capitals of their respective countries and both with populations over six digits, but one with clearer visual contrasts that can be seen in some of my pictures and that can still differentiate those two cities in a world that each day walks toward looking so alike.”

Gafanhoto added that he likes to show cityscapes in a very particular way. He likes to include their natural interactions, their ugliness and disorder, the abundance of concrete, but a lot of their beauty as well. For “From Rio to Brotherly Love,” skyscrapers and high-rises, downtown areas and a bit of the cities’ outskirts are shown.

“The forgotten and not so talked about is sometimes as beautiful as the celebrated and popular,” the photographer said. “Silence in a scene does not mean one place has to be run over, destroyed totally to have a fresh beginning. Sometimes the past is set aside so the scene can be restored and improved for the future, even with gentrification in mind.”

Since 1910, IHP has played an integral role in Philadelphia’s international community by acting as a meeting place for the region’s diverse population, by offering continued education outside of the classroom and by offering innovative arts programming to all, Dages noted.

Broadening his view to a much larger scale, Gafanhoto is photographing and processing cityscapes in a very personal way, to demonstrate the places that he has lived and visited.

Many of the pictures in the exhibition integrate textures applied during the post-process. They are a necessity for Gafanhoto to have in the photographs.

“They work to make the place look as I felt it, making it look closer to what I have in mind,” Gafanhoto said. “I visualize the good and bad things the place and scene dissipate, what they made me feel not only when the picture was taken but also what I sense that place is for me now.”

Gafanhoto pays a lot of attention to his surroundings and sometimes catches a glance in a spot that usually is ignored. He believes that places can reveal a lot about people, sometimes even more than portraits can, and that inspires him.

The way that cities influence people is more striking to Gafanhoto than individual characters alone.

“I try not to limit the way I see the city, whether it’s while walking or biking, while some people will only have the perspective from their cars or the metro, as an example,” Gafanhoto said. “The great part of the process of my art is that it comes after I’ve captured the photo itself. It’s not the naked eye, literal vision of the place. My memories and feelings towards the subject are expressed by the post-process techniques applied.”

Because it represents the best of the East Coast with all of its history, as a former capital and vibrant art scene, Gafanhoto sees Philadelphia as a great international city

“Moving from a huge city like Rio with all its beauty and social disparities to a major American city that is four times smaller, yet one of the biggest in the country, was impacting,” Gafanhoto said. “The less chaotic environment brings additional perspective to my work, particularly by showing the similarities and differences between the cities.”

Photo courtesy of International House Philadelphia.