Sacred Forests

Anna Nunes work offers a self-reflection on different ways of living, largely nourished by her experiences as an ecologist specialised in sacred forests of local communities in Guinea-Bissau. When she first arrived among the Fulani, she couldn’t speak their language so she communicated with them through art. Painting perfectly conveyed experiences and emotions.

In Sacred Forests, Nunes paints portraits and large-scale everyday scenes of the West African communities that hosted her. Her paintings explore the connections she made with the people there, their sense of community, their collective wisdom and values, and reciprocal respect for one another. She composes her paintings across multiple planes using wide shapes and bold colours that are reminiscent of Gauguin. In her group portraits, the whole canvas is filled with a tight lively crowd. In the density of the composition, Nunes uses a focal point such as clapping hands or an expressive gaze to guide the viewer through the scene. In her individual portraits, she transcends the appearance of a person to capture their soul. Nunes’ art questions what other communities could offer us in our search for a more connected way of living with each other and with the world around us.

Natania Dan, curator at the Jewish Museum in Amsterdam