"Aniki Bobo", by João Cabral de Melo Neto

“Aniki Bobo”, by João Cabral de Melo Neto

Aloísio Magalhães, while still attending law school in Recife (the capital of Pernambuco), had already begun to show his fascination with graphic arts by skillfully illustrating a poetry book written by a colleague of his from the university, José Laurenio de Melo.

After graduating, he traveled to Paris to study painting and engraving at the Atelier 17, an important European center of engraving. Once back in Brazil, he met with Gastão de Holanda, a former classmate from the university, who had also been in Paris, studying literature.

Coincidentally, a famous cousin of Magalhães, the renowned Brazilian poet João Cabral de Melo Neto, moved to Recife at that time. This cousin strongly encouraged the two young artists to open their own private print shop, similar to the one he himself had had in Barcelona. It was in that print shop that Cabral de Melo Neto had produced his own books through craftsmanship, while he was in the town occupying the post of consul.

Magalhães and José Laurenio became excited about the idea of setting up a print shop and they sought other former friends from the university who were also involved in literature and graphic arts. Among the main names of those who founded O Gráfico Amador in 1954, it is worth mentioning Ariano Suassuna, José Laurenio, and Orlando da Costa Ferreira.

Brought together by their passion for books and their quests in philosophical and aesthetic issues – which were connected to Modernism, a Brazilian art movement – these individuals produced grand experimental works that combined poetry, illustration, a bold typographical style, an alternative and informal use of paper and elements in relief printing. All these ingredients greatly contributed towards creating a more pleasing relationship between text and image.

O Gráfico Amador was being closely followed by Le Courrier Graphique, from Paris, as well as by the Curwen Press, from London. Additionally, several intellectuals and artists from Pernambuco and people from the artistic milieu also contributed to the magazine.

This undertaking was a key factor in Aloísio Magalhães’ career, for he later became a pioneering figure in the history of Brazilian graphic design. Let us not forget that benchmarks were scarce at that time, especially outside of the region linking Rio de Janeiro to São Paulo. Moreover, Magalhães became a leading pioneer in the history of Brazilian typography, as he was acutely aware of the profound relationships between artistic and industrial production.

O Gráfico Amador revealed itself as being a reference in the scenario of Brazilian culture and it was displayed in an exhibition at the Brazilian National Library, in Rio de Janeiro, in 1959.

The magazine closed its doors in 1961. It had issued altogether 20 publications, including the first edition of the poem Ciclo, by Carlos Drummond de Andrade – a renowned Brazilian poet. Its patrimony was donated to Escola de Belas Artes do Recife (Recife’s Fine Arts College).