|Francisco Moraes da Silva was born in Casimiro de Abreu (RJ) in 1936. He worked for over 30 years extracting tabibuia wood to make clogs, and became known as Chico Tabibuia. “I started when I was 12 years old, in the middle of the forest. One day I got a piece of wood, made a man and a woman, and used a kind of ivy called goat’s beard to make their hair. Nobody taught me. But when my mother saw them she beat me so badly that I spent 15 days in bed, crying.” Chico Tabibuia grew up and continued to carve wood. “There’s a funny story. With the help of a judge and a lawyer who liked my work I managed to carry on without being made fun of. If I had any problems I could call them, and that was it! In the end even my mother ended up ordering a piece.” Apart from figurines Chico also made stools, rustic tables and other pieces of furniture. Then one day he met Paulo Pardal. Charmed by Chico’s work, he became a major collector and agent. Unfortunately Paulo Pardal passed away and Chico Tabibuia lost his ally. Today, he only sculpts if someone insists. “Who am I going to sell to? People place orders but never turn up to collect them. Paulo Pardal wasn’t like that. He used to bring me wood and would take away everything I made.” Living off his pension, Chico Tabibuia now spends the days sitting on a bench close to his house, watching life go by. He seems a bit sad, but cheers up when he talks about his life. His pieces look like ex-votos, strong and intriguing, made in honour of a major miracle – the miracle of creation which for him, was always linked to his dreams. His old erotic sculptures are really impressive and one could say that they mix ex-votos, orishas, animals and human being. We hope that Chico Tabibuia begins to dream soon again.
Unfortunately Chico Tabibuia passed way in May, 2007 while we were finishing this project.