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Rio de Janeiro, 1984: Alair Gomes commemorates his first individual exhibition at the Candido Mendes Gallery, in Ipanema. Up until then, even though he had participated in various collective exhibitions, photography had been an intimate activity, telling stories to himself and to a handful of friends. Alair was very happy, for he was gaining recognition in his city, in his country.

For more than 30 years, he wrote, he photographed, he created an oeuvre/archive. The amount of photographs already scared him back in the 1970’s; in the context of political repression and mortal prejudice, the worst could happen. At the end, it all came up to 15,000 prints, mostly produced in his pleasurable walks by Rio de Janeiro’s south zone beaches and in his apartment, where he composed the Sinfonia de Ícones Eróticos (Symphony of Erotic Icons), with 1,767 images, dedicated to contemplating male nudes. Many of his writings attempt to understand how eroticism and pornography relate, in order to qualify his photographic compositions and construct his own language. Alair had moved all along between hiding and showing, afraid of the eyes of moralist control and the destruction of his oeuvre/life. In his 1985- 1989 diary, he says: “Fear must be like something seasoning for freedom.” He would not shy out, he rather savored freedom, he resisted and created.

Disciplinary apparatuses impose the very normative nexus we should fight. In Alair, passing from an intimate act to an artistic/philosophical potency constructed his oeuvre—space of erotic/political resistance, beyond genders and socially defined identities.

His prose and terms escape commonalities, surveillance, and they invite us to activate new experiences from visible to sensorial.

Our invitation is inspired by the words of the artist himself: “Erotic is some type of supreme affirmation of existence!”


Alair Gomes, great pleasure!

Great pleasure, Alair

Pleasure, Alair….

Alair, pleasure… great…

Alair Gomes, great

Great, Alair Gomes, great

Alair Gomes, great pleasure…


Luciana Muniz | Curator of Alair Gomes Collection

National Library Foundation