||It’s hard to imagine someone from the hot countryside in the North East of Brazil living in the mountains around Rio de Janeiro, in the town of Nova Friburgo, known for the cold, European-like climate. But that’s what happened to Geraldo Simplício, known as Nego, who was born in Aurora (CE) in 1943, in the middle of the deserted Cariri countryside. The journey to Rio wasn’t easy. “As a child I used to make ex-votos and clay toys. The kids used to compete to see who had the largest collection of clay oxes, it was fun. Then I started to work with wood. In 1969 I came to Rio to sell my work and a lady who took me to Nova Friburgo helped me. I worked hard, and around here there have always been a lot of tourists.”
After some personal disappointments, Nego’s life changed. “I found this plot of land 37 years ago. I sold all I had to buy it, and sculpted my first woman on a cliff. It’s uneven terrain, and so I like to make paths through it and sculpt my figurines. I work the clay and cover it with dark mud. Moss covers up the figures and protect them from erosion.” His monumental pieces are impressive in size, movement, energy and expression. “Art is an excess of energy. When it’s accumulated we can create. This place also has an excess of energy. I know I’m crazy, but madness and art live together, in a lake. The difference is that madmen drown and artist swim. But all artists are crazy.” Nego has opened his garden to the public and likes to show visitors around, pointing out the details in his wonderful Babilonic garden.