Mariana Palma

One of the highlights of the young pinBrazilian culture, a movement that emerged with force in the early years of the 21st century, Mariana Palma showed, in Tomie Ohtake Institute, a broad and impressively cohesive body of work, built over a career spanning two decades. Exploring multiple languages, but attentive to a very familiar universe of questions, motives and references, the artist manages to both seduce and confuse the public.

Mariana Palma, Untitled, 2017. Photo: Edouard Fraipont | Private Collection

As a kind of illusionist, Mariana always starts from elements apparently out of an intimacy associated with the feminine: flowers, leaves, buds, fabrics, skins, tiles, abstractions that refer to marbled papers, valued on the covers of old books. And she combines them in an unusual way, creating precise but unstable harmonies, sometimes filling all the spaces in a claustrophobic composition, sometimes submerging them in an intriguing void.

Mariana Palma
Mariana Palma, Untitled, 2012. Photo: Edouard Fraipont | Private Collection

In his paintings, fields are worked with refinement and overlap, interpenetrate, creating multiple planes of seduction. As Paulo Reis writes, his work is a “goldsmith painting”. In the drawings, videos and photographs, the process seems to be reversed and the represented plant reigns alone in the center of a large white (milk) or black (olive oil) void, in order to amplify the details as in the richly worked drawings of the traveling scientists. With the difference that Mariana only appears to seek fidelity, when she actually reconstructs nature through a very personal look, free from the precepts of science.

She presents to the public unusual compositions, such as an unlikely mix between a peacock feather and a shell, in associations of a suggestive eroticism and that seem guided by an urgency to capture the precise moment between life and death, the blossoming and the withering. .  It is not by chance that curator Priscyla Gomes in her text associates the set of works by Mariana with the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, underlining the fleetingness and intensity of the encounter, the balance that in several works Mariana tries to find between the vitality of the new and the certainty of finitude.

In addition to the clear references to the great masters of botanical design such as Albrecht Dürer and Margareth Mee, she makes multiple references to the history of art, combining allusions ranging from exquisite Renaissance planning to Dutch XNUMXth century painting – with her love of detail – and an evident inebriation, which brings her close to both the Baroque and the Romantic.

Mariana Palma
Mariana Palma, Untitled, 2017. Photo: Edouard Fraipont | Private Collection

There in the exhibition some interesting encounters between the works, such as the one that takes place between the only sculptural piece, in which palm branches (in an unquestionable reference to the artist's last name) spurt over two basins filled with a dark oil and just start a dive that promises to be deep, and a huge canvas in which sprouts of the same nature are represented in extremely subtle tones that go from light gray to almost black, something surprising for someone who usually gives in to a profusion of colors.

Interestingly, Mariana avoids the use of titles. As if any narrative suggestion would divert her compositions from the synthetic and somewhat enigmatic character of her compositions. She also purposely avoids the inclusion of the human figure in her works. Her narratives do without it, it seems that they would make it less dense. Objects, often seen in suffocating proximity, speak for themselves of our desires. Tactile, visual, affective. And they seem to prove that, in absence, the human may be more present.

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