|Espedito Rocha was born in Curitiba (PR) in 1921. At six months he lost his mother and was taken to Pernambuco, where he lived until he was 30. There, he worked in a smallholding and, while chopping cassavas, he “ruined them while trying to sculpt my first pieces”. At 12 he already carved wood observing a master who knew the art. He took a liking for it. Totally self-taught Espedito learned his art through living. Persecuted as a union leader, arrested and tortured by the military dictatorship in the 1970s, he travelled around the North East and managed to escape from a hospital where he was detained and found shelter in São Paulo (SP), in the home of teachers who were away at the time. The owner of the house sculpted as a hobby, and had left many unfinished pieces behind. “I didn’t have much to do so I decided to finish the pieces. When he returned, he was surprised by what he saw. I did what I thought would look right, he liked it and brought Mr. Pietro Maria Bardi (founder father of Masp – Museum of Art of São Paulo) to look at them. Then in 1978 I had my first exhibition at the SESC (Serviço Social do Comércio) in São Paulo.”
The sculptures by Espedito Rocha break through the boundaries between popular and erudite through pure intuition that allows the artist to move between these two worlds without frontiers, shaping his feelings which are simply his perception of life, his environment and himself.
“Everyone says that my sculptures are light. There’s a story in that.” One day he took part in a joint exhibition with six painters and noticed how they could carry their work under their arms, while he had to hire a truck. “Nowadays I remove about 80% of the wood’s weight.” He says he tried to sell his work in quotas, but gave up. “Exhibitions really help. There’s always someone willing to buy. I don’t like to take orders; I prefer to make whatever I want. I don’t accept advice. I might take on a project, but the way it will be is up to me. People can’t copy me because I invent things and nowadays I don’t give titles to anything. People see, understand or not, like it or not.”