Marcos Duprat:Diplomacy and Art

Features Issue 137 Jun, 2013
Text and Photo By Nischal Oli

Brasil’s Ambassador to Nepal is also a methodic artist whose travels do not influence his art. Whether or Nepal made an impression, only his work here as an artist will say.

Art is not universal, neither is it unknown.’ Versed in these words of oriental wisdom lies the nature of man: his unique existence manifested similarly in exorbitant forms and yet with a common thread tugging at its base. Even then, it is second nature to again weave the grandeur of this world, a bigger pool of possibilities, into that equation. Relatively, though, this does little to wane our interests in others and the unknown - curiosity is never squandered in the infinite fruitfulness of being.

When it became apparent millennia ago that past the immediate horizons and the desolate lands in between, life flourished anywhere the willingness of humanity exercised its strength - travelers took to the road. Trade eroded that first barrier of language, but as was with the time, war loomed near each time a state (or its people) extended its arm beyond its station. Which is why: the first order of people, responsible for representing their people and interests, were appointed. Their grave vocation required attempts to appease and negotiate issues that could hinder trade, and/or state relations.

To this need of uninterrupted economic exchange, culture evolved into that crucial supplement to withhold a more personal relationship. Thus, governments around the world today use a combination of cultural and economic representation to put it lightly ‘explore the world’. In 2010 the government of Nepal proposed a bilateral representation with the nation of Brazil. Initiating a lengthy process of judicial hearings, nominations and approvals, one of which happened in Brasilia on behalf of Marcos Duprat, who had been nominated to take the post in Kathmandu.

Duprat had just relocated to Rio De Janeiro after serving 11 years in Uruguay, Japan and South Africa. “I have been working for a long time,” says Duprat, who began his career in diplomacy in the late 70’s, “and It’s been hard work to maintain my two careers.” Duprat is also an artist, making him a superior candidate for the first post to be created in historic Nepal. At the time of his nomination he was the Director of the Museum of History and Diplomacy in Rio, his hometown. “The old Ministry of Foreign Affairs is this beautiful palace with a great collection of art and furniture, so I wanted to take care of this museum.” Working with the museum, Duprat was for a rare moment able to be involved in the field of art, without separation from or adjusting his professional career. The job also made possible for Duprat to start a personal studio, “a physical space is important, if you are an artist then there is always a goal to get organized,” explains the artist about realizing this milestone.

But it has been an arduous journey. Duprat was attracted to diplomacy for its options of travel and his own curiosity about the world, “I wanted to know what was out there,” and art had always been a dream. “It’s been hard work to maintain my life for the past 40 years, but I feel privileged, that in my generation, even though most parents channeled their children to some professional career, I have been able to explore my interests as an artist.” In 1977 when Duprat served his first post in Washington, DC, he also enrolled in the American University’s MFA program. With a solo exhibition that very year, the artist and the diplomat began their journey side by side.

In 2011, both governments had approved their respective candidates and Duprat was soon on his way to Kathmandu - to serve as the first Brazillian Ambassador to Nepal. “I came here in September of 2011 with another official with a rather demanding task of starting an embassy.” After finishing up the initial set-up, Duprat settled in at his residence in Maharajgunj and continued working on new paintings when he could. “Kathmandu has a different sense of space, the colors here are more striking, the light and ambience is new to me,” says Duprat about his new settings, which usually become a subject for his paintings.

More than 35 years of travelling around the world, has not surprised the artist in Duprat. Although, today he paints landscapes, the flow between his earlier works, that focused on interiors and human figures, and new work is visible. Resilient in his examination of the nature of space, Duprat has preserved his primary subject till date: light. “The common denominator in my work is light,” explains Duprat, who explores spaces, through the illuminating agent. Having studied under the masters of American Abstract Expressionist movement in Washington, Duprat’s paintings too are spontaneous with natural movement of the hand, likewise colors play another important role. Essentially these two: light and colors are the only thing open to influence with the diplomat’s travel. “I do not incorporate anything local from my travels, however, critics do say my work took a drastic turn when I moved to Japan, their traditions in graphics and direct exploration of the subject matter did influence my work,” explains Duprat.

Duprat is methodic, a side-effect perhaps from the years of vigorous routine he has exercised, keeping two careers. He paints with initial impressions and mostly from memory, letting the subconscious speak in rudimentary gestures of brush strokes and filling colors. The resulting works are a resolve on the duality of the painter himself and one of the visible reality versus its hidden codes. With a new exhibition coming up, Duprat is set to explore the impressions of Kathmandu and Nepal.

Marcos Duprat exhibits at the Siddhartha Art Gallery in mid-April. Paintings from the show will be included in a retrospective show planned for the near future in Brazil. The exhibition is non-commercial, as the artist (rather than the diplomat) believes it is simply a way for him to “further the dialogue between my viewers and I and my art, because art like diplomacy is about informing yourself.”