Rosana Paulino, the permanence of structures

*per Solange Farkas


In the midst of artistic production that emerges from the regions of the world's colonial past, Rosana Paulino's work has become a reference before our eyes. In the curatorial research that seeks the voices and speeches of this geopolitical pole – and which feeds Videobrasil's actions – its strength is increasingly imposed. I remember the impression that the first works of the artist that I saw made on me, especially the series Stretched (1997), in which an angry and definitive sewing takes the space of decorum and modesty (white, feminine and bourgeois) of embroidery to silence and blind black women. Or the monotypes Extreme protection from pain and suffering (2011), in which sewing threads fall from the eyes of a naked female figure to compose something that looks like a fragile imitation of a protective covering, but also a tangle that limits and imprisons.

This last series was chosen by the artist and curator Daniel Lima to integrate the exhibition Are we all black now?, which composed the Galpão Videobrasil program in 2017. The show also included social fabric, an engraving with an ironic title in which Paulino joins images with poorly made sutures and forced seams to challenge ideas of peaceful sociability and national unity. Willing to challenge the perpetuation of the myth of Brazilian racial cordiality, including in the field of art, Lima brought together a generation that set out to deconstruct what he describes as the “triple trauma of colonization (extermination of native populations, slavery and religious persecution) through the micropolitical power of art".

These previous experiences with the artist's work did not prepare me for the impact I felt when walking through the exhibition. Rosana Paulino: memory stitching. It was just in front of assembled body of work by the Pinacoteca de São Paulo that I became aware of the real dimension of the artist's production. The mastery and mastery with which she makes use of a diversity of techniques and languages, such as watercolor, drawing, ceramics, video, embroidery, sculpture. But, even more, the poetic and political power of his narrative, which in history to bring to light a painful past and its very present heritage, whether in the form of sensory impact or through thought-provoking associations of ideas.

Looking back over two decades of the artist's production, it is especially touching to note the delicacy with which she exposes extreme issues and situations, such as the violence imposed on women, especially black women, the poorly concealed Brazilian racism and the absence and social invisibility of black people, often reduced to the condition of an object of study of the natural sciences by our historical iconography – a repertoire that Rosana, not for nothing, makes extensive use of. Some among many examples are the delicate and fluid line with which she reconnects the black female body to the earth, fragmented and uprooted by slavery, in settlements; and the lightness of the small ceramic sculptures gathered in the installation Weavers (2009), which evokes with great poignancy the pain of the double submission of being a woman and a black woman..

Doing justice to a mature production of rare potency, the exhibition at the Pinacoteca reveals Rosana Paulino as one of the most important artists in action in the Brazilian contemporary scene. This perception reinforces, but does not precede, the invitation we made to Paulino to present, at the 21st Bienal de Arte Contemporânea Sesc_Videobrasil, an unprecedented work, which is being commissioned by the event. The Bienal takes place from October in São Paulo and investigates, through an expressive set of works, how poetics from the South are related to the idea of ​​new communities, created by principles different from those that founded the national States. Like those that approach a family or tribal character, expressing their affections in domestic or memorialistic experiences. Starting from recurring questions in her work, related to memory and ancestry, Rosana Paulino dialogues with this universe and ventures into a new language. The exhibition presented at the Pinacoteca will go to MAR – Museu de Arte do Rio on April 13 and will be on display until the end of August.

Rosana Paulino: the sewing of memory
Curated by Valéria Piccoli and Pedro Nery
As of April 13
Rio Art Museum: Praça Mauá, 5 – Downtown, Rio de Janeiro – RJ

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