adriana varejao
"Map of Lopo Homem II", by Adriana Varejão. Photo: Jaime Acioli

Apresenting a broad panorama of the career of Adriana Varejão, one of the most outstanding Brazilian artists of the last decades, the exhibition Sutures, fissures, ruins occupies a vast space in the Pinacoteca do Estado de São Paulo until the beginning of August. Curated by Jochen Volz, director general of the Pinacoteca, the exposure builds a narrative that explains Varejão's reiterated look at the history of Brazilian visual production, his dialogues with European iconographic traditions and with the conventions and material codes of Western artistic making.

“I have always believed that there is no one version of history, but versions, multiple and varied. It turns out that many of them were perpetuated. My story is based on versions that are sometimes imagined, sometimes silenced”, explained the artist in an interview with Vogue. Varejão's look at this story, therefore, can be seen in more than 60 works produced from 1985 to the present day – several of them rarely shown in Brazil, since they were sold abroad soon after they were made. It is the case of Tiles (1988), the first work in which the artist uses as a reference a panel of Portuguese tiles, found in the cloister of the Convento de São Francisco, in Salvador.

Whether in sculptures and pieces with tiles or in paintings produced by the artist throughout her career, fissures and sutures – as the title says – are present in several works in the exhibition. “Since his first baroque paintings, the canvas surface has never been a mere support; on the contrary, it is an essential element of the painting's message. Cutting, splitting, cutting and fissuring have been recurring elements in the artist's works since 1992”, says the exhibition's presentation text.

The recurring “viscera” and “meat” that spring from a series of Varejão’s works refer to the violence of Brazilian colonial history – and end up showing a close dialogue between the artist and some of the most current themes dealt with in national contemporary art. “She has this idea of ​​what Brazilian art is and this careful look at a visual history that is dominated by a European look, influence and academicism, and from that she makes the parody strategy”, he says. “There is even the idea of ​​anthropophagy, of the flesh, of this fascination with the idea of ​​breaking even some taboos. Everything appears in her work”, says Volz in an interview with Folha de S.Paulo.

For the Octógono, the central space of the Pinacoteca, five works from the recent series beef jerky ruins, composed of large-scale three-dimensional paintings. Among them is Ruin Brasilis (2021), donated by the artist to the collection of the Pinacoteca de São Paulo and which was in her last exhibition in New York. In the words of the curator, “the work is an attempt to rescue the colors of our flag, which in recent times has become a symbol of what is most reactionary and retrograde in the country. (…) The ruin is not there building a glorious project. On the contrary, it is a tragic monument that reveals a brutal truth to us”.

To learn more about the artist's work, read here article by Leonor Amarante about the exhibition Adriana Varejão – for a cannibal rhetoric, presented in 2019.

SERVICE: Adriana Varejão: Sutures, fissures, ruins
WHEN: March 26 to August 1, 2022. Wednesday to Monday, 10 am to 18 pm.
WHERE: Pinacoteca Luz Praça da Luz 2 Building, São Paulo, SP, 1st floor and Octagon

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