Following the 1968 military coup in Brazil, many artists left that country for New York. Antonio Henrique Amaral, who arrived in 1973, became one of the most successful of those artists, both critically and commercially, earning fame with his iconic images of bananas. Critics have read Alone in Green, with its overripe, tied, and bruised banana, as a metaphor for political violence and torture, pointing out that the vertical prongs of the fork in the upper half of the painting recall prison bars. But the predominant yellow and green colors of the painting are the same as those of the Brazilian flag, meaning the banana can also be interpreted as an ironic comment on the popular perception of Brazil as an idyllic tropical paradise. Like many Latin American artists of the 1970s, Amaral heavily coded his denunciation of a cruel political system by subverting the stereotypes that dominate international perceptions of Latin American culture. Amaral's deadpan realistic style shows links to contemporary American Pop art, yet his political double-meanings and his emphasis on the banana's vulnerability suggest a world far removed from a straightforward fascination with consumer society.
Artworks by Antonio Henrique Amaral