Gildo Zampol Escultor

11 Feb

The public cemeteries of Sao Paulo are grand affairs, with imposing gates, lush planting and acres of memorials. The work of monumental masons is impressive, while some of the sculpture is strikingly effective.

Masonic temple in miniature

Masonic temple in miniature

I’ve written before about the Cemitério São Paulo on Rua Cardeal Arcoverde  with its wealth of works by nationally and internationally known sculptors

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Túmulo da família Forte or Túmulo do pão by Italian Brazilian Galileo Emendabili

On previous visits I have been drawn to one piece in particular, not as striking as works in more recent styles, but sculpted with breath-taking virtuosity.

I look more closely.

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Every structure and surface handled with assurance

White marble, classically the sculptor’s material of choice, appears often here.

Granite an effective foil

Polished granite an effective foil

(Sao Paulo can be tough on that choice, but …

100-year old maiden

100-year old maiden

… outside fairy tales, alternatives are limited.)

Angel in a box

Angel in a box

Metal fares better, one reason why it predominates. In the first half of the last century, that difficulty was less obvious, so if you could afford it, marble was a good choice in the effort to perpetuate the memory of your family. Its expressive possibilities were – and are – enormous.

Pietà religioso

Especially apt for the innocence of childhood – and a more manageable size –

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” … and  flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.”

– white marble also suits the purity of angels and young maidens.

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Her scroll bids the deceased sleep in peace, “Dorme em paz

The floral arrangement looks odd, suspended or implanted like that … Back to the angel which had caught my eye originally. It was signed.

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with address – Rua Cônego Eugênio Leite – and telephone number

The lettering – so much of its time – and the address – literally the approach to the Cemitério – piqued my interest. I looked around.

 Rua Cônego Eugênio Leite 1138, ex-monumental mason's yard

Rua Cônego Eugênio Leite 1138, ex-monumental mason’s yard

There were more white angels, especially along the approach from the gates to the chapel of rest. Whether this heavenly host had been summoned to outshine one another or whether it was that they were there simply because the plots were allocated at around the same time I could not be sure. But I began to discern a style I could recognise.

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Her gaze beyond this world

Beautifully articulated feathers, flowers and foliage.

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She processes demurely

The treatment of the feet – one forward, sometimes showing only the toes.

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A more pensive gaze

The gown decorated with open-work trim. Fabrics precisely modelled.

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” … as the flowers of the field … “

The drapery convincingly, sometimes daringly modelled.

She feels the breath of heaven

She feels the breath of heaven

And a signature device: a hand or a foot floating free, without visible support, suggesting the aetherial nature of angels.

2013-01-27 11.45.52 Stitch

[Composite photograph – zoom in]

Perhaps I was seeing imitation, or a ‘school’ of sculpture, but some of these details showed what I thought was the one ‘hand’, both in conception and in execution. A playful, assured hand.

Confidently modelled

Confidently modelled

The back of the work suggests rock and feathers, but details hair in full, worked seamlessly into one view which reads convincingly. Drill holes are left in the rock’s crevices, matching the open-work motif of the decorated gown.

There are more cues which suggest the work of one hand – supporting rock and base modelled with assurance, easy integration of  a section for inscription, a preference for shoulder-length curling hair …

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2013-01-27 10.28.48 - Copy

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2013-01-27 11.54.41 - Copy

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We may be seeing the sculptor’s tendency to favour a particular style – like Modigliani, for example, or the Pre-Raphaelites – or perhaps a favoured pair of models. Or both.

Gildo Zampol worked in bronze, marble and other materials, on monumental and domestic scales. His son Antonio Carlos Zampol continues the work of sculpture, and of conservation and restoration of his father’s work, based in Taboão on the outskirts of Sao Paulo.  See   and

What impresses me is that Zampol was able to use his evident mastery of technique in the service of artistic expression. This funerary angel is a portrait, an archetype, and a spiritual ideal, which stands comparison with the best of representational sculpture. Long may it stand!

Pensive angel

Pensive angel

One Response to “Gildo Zampol Escultor”

  1. religiousbuildings February 12, 2013 at 8:55 pm #

    The attention to detail on the statues is amazing.

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