In April 2022, Brian Maguire travelled to Brazil to investigate what war reporter Ed Vuillamy has described as “the war on the world” – the destruction of the Amazon rainforest. Visiting remote villages on the Abacaxis River by boat, the artist was able to witness first-hand the effects of deforestation and persistent neglect of its indigenous inhabitants. Meeting with local leaders and communities via listening sessions, Maguire learned about the issues facing the Maraguá people, including healthcare, education, the impact of mining companies on fishing grounds.
From these stories, so often excluded from the dominant narrative, Maguire has devised a series of new large-scale paintings drawing attention to the urgent social and ecological crisis unfolding in the Amazon. Maguire shows us the beauty of the rainforest in its natural state, the horror of its destruction, and the socio-economic impact of land clearance. It also looks towards Brazil’s recent election of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva – who has pledged to protect the Amazon and its indigenous population – as a ray of hope in addressing the crisis. Beginning his works as acts of documentation, Maguire then uses painterly skill, surface and texture to transform these testimonies into blisteringly powerful works of art, restoring an ethical vision to the poetic imagination.