Roberto Burle Marx was a Brazilian landscape architect borned in 1909 who designs parks and gardens that made him world famous. He was the fourth son of Cecilia Burle (whose family came from Pernambuco and France) and Friederich Marx, a german jew. Roberto was not an architect, he went to School of Fine Arts in Rio. It is important to start saying that he was not only an exponent in architecture and landscaping. He was one of the greatest artists of his time. Restless, visionary and unique.
In the 30ths he start to dialogue with all the intelectual group and became part of the expoent of brazilian modernism. At that time to be modernist, it was to be nacionalist, brazilian, avant garde.
He transported landscape design to the logic of plastic arts, in an aesthetic perception, using texture, color, volume, shadows, transforming the space. As a crystal, He was a multifaceted artist. Landscape architect as well as a painter, engraver print maker, ecologist, naturalist, artist and musician. He was able to transfer traditional artistic expressions such as graphic design, tapestry and primitive art into his landscape designs. He also designed fabrics, jewelry and cenary sets. Burle Marx's artistic style was avant-garde and modern. He transformed landscape into an art form and believed that a garden is the planned organization of natural elements. Much of his work has a sense of timelessness and perfection.
He was one of the first who use native plants in public garden projects in the 30s. He recognized the diversity of Brazilian flora, its beauty and importance.
For example, in the 50th he introduced a brazilian north tree called “pau mulato”, a jungle tree, at an aristocratic house in the capital of Brazil (in the ambassador’ residence), showing us that the primitive can be sophisticated. He used species of Brazilian flora that were considered minor in luxury projects. At that time Brazilian Landscapers copied what was done in France. Burle Marx has not only changed the landscape style in Brazil, but also created a new language for contemporary world landscape design.
Burle Marx was also precursor on preservation and sustainability. He did many excursions and expeditions with botanicals and other professionals interested in the issue, to study the relationship between different groups of plants and to understand the natural landscape. In these tours he discovered several of new species (at least 30 plants discovered by him have his name).
He was a pioneer to call in the 60s for the conservation of Brazil's rainforests and to speak out against deforestation.
Important to say that he was not just a theorist, doing lectures in Brazil and US, but really engaged with the cause. For example during Transamazonica’s highway construction, Roberto used to get his truck and drive to the local just to save plants that will be devasted by the road.
Sitio Burle Marx was his living laboratory. In 1949, Burle Marx acquired the site “Sítio Santo Antonio da Bica” at Guaratiba, Rio de Janeiro. He loved to studies and observes the plants. So he established his residence, nursery and tropical plant collection at Guaratiba. He donated this place to the Brazilian government in 1985 and became a national monument. Now, called Sítio Roberto Burle Marx, under the direction of IPHAN – Heritage Institute that belongs to brazilian federal government, it have over 3,500 species of plants of diferent family species, such as araceas, palm trees, velosiáceas, musáceas, among others.
We could say, that Haruyoshi Ono was the seed of Burle Marx’s Institute.
Haruyoshi Ono was a central person in the preservation of the legacy of Burle Marx.
Haruyoshi Ono joined the Studio in 1965, working with Roberto Burle Marx as creative partner for thirty years. During all his life, Haruyoshi worked with Roberto with responsability, devotion, respect and in a beautiful partneship. We could say that they were opposites, but at the same time, were complementary. One was the artist, extroverted, a solar person. The other was the japanese, perfectionist, creative and introverted.
In all these years of partnership he was the co-author in famous landscape projects such as Copacabana’s beach, being present and participating in almost all the Burle Marx’s productions (landscape projects, sculptures, engraving, glass, ceramic work, tours and excursions).
Haruyoshi became a dear friend and Burle Marx’s main partner. Roberto used to say that he was the son that he never had.
Despite of this, Haruyoshi never called himself a disciple of Burle Marx. For him, the most important was not to become famous because he had worked with Burle Marx partnership. More than that, he was concerned to preserve and continue his landscape work always with the same ideals and values that Roberto believed.
Haruyoshi uses Burle Marx’s concepts to disseminate his legacy.
He believed that Roberto’s ideals have a lot to contribute for our world and contemporary issues. He always talked about the importance of Burle Marx’s contribution and the urgency to work on the preservation of all his archive He was responsible for the organization and maintenance of all landscape project materials that we have today and also in the safeguard of Burle Marx’s landscape collection. After Roberto passed away, Haruyoshi was the most relevant figure to preserve his legacy, collaborating in all important exhibition and publication of Burle Marx’s work.