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  • Provenance

    Lehmann Maupin, New York

  • Catalogue Essay

    Adriana Varejão embodies one of the most original voices in Brazilian contemporary art. Her oeuvre covers diverse practices; including painting,
    sculpture, photography and installation. The artist is renowned for her work in the mid 1990’s, which explore the two juxtaposing motifs: flesh and
    tiles (often referred to using the Spanish ‘azulejos’). Her work, Celacanto Provoca Maremoto, carried out between 2004 and 2008, features 48 tile inspired
    paintings that form a structured chaos in a turmoil of blue-tinted arabesques. The work incorporates the sense of free moving flesh and yet
    alludes to the regulated, accumulative structure of ‘azulejos’ through its composition. The artist’s large-scale, monochromatic paintings that form
    the subsequent and ongoing Sauna series continue her use of tiled shapes to portray her idealised visual poetics and conceptual impulses. The artist’s
    perfect control of light and shade along with her fine colour gradations within an otherwise chromatic uniformity, provide the works with a
    singularly modern aesthetic. Varejão’s style can be explained by the artist’s subtle amalgamation of Baroque illusion, theatricality and the traditional
    Portuguese decorative ceramic genre.

    A Grande Curva, executed in 2010, is an extension of Varejão’s Celacanto Provoca Maremoto and Sauna series. The title can be translated from the
    Spanish to ‘A big curve’ and thus alludes to scale, curvature and trajectory movement. Coated with a mixture of plaster and glue, then painted over
    in oils, the cracked surface evokes the texture of Chinese celadon and ceramic. In this work, Varejão transmits her interest in the geometric
    shape and its power to evoke movement and sensuality. The blue, flowing forms in her work allude to nature and running water. Varejão states: “The
    water is moving, so you know there is a movement. The pictures imply something like a labyrinth. There is solitude in it. They can be very scary
    in a way, and I think they also create a certain erotic atmosphere: There is a presence of the body which is not there, but there are places where
    the body should be. There is a virtual body.” (Sabine Rieck, interview with Adriana Varejão, 2006, www.artfacts.net). The design is nuanced by light
    and shadow to introduce volume and create a convoluted space that is becomes a labyrinth of line. The association with tiles evokes sentiments
    of water and corporality characteristic of locations such as pools and hammans, classically covered with a “skin of tile”. The play of light in the
    painting reflects the liquid transparency of water and almost seems to slide of the picture plane in a wave-like movement.

    Varejão speaks about her paintings as intending to reflect the ‘surge’ of the sea.“In this world of baroque convulsion in which angels’ bodies look
    like or are sustained only by the convulsive disorder of the waves, swells, billows, tidal waves, tides flowing with the energy converting sea currents
    into optical currents, with the loss of direction imposed against the mesh, beyond the grid, corroded, imperfect, split, cracked like wounded skin,
    flesh cooked in fire, blue baroque-rococo sea, coastal territory of scrolls, bends, spirals, body parts, yet all a paradoxical conceptual entirety of
    fragments in the totalization of the surface, with its folds, beachcombers, white, monochromes, light, the harbour upon arrival after navigating,
    roaming, sliding on the surface that is simultaneously constructed, a near masonry of tiles and liquidity moving under the mirror-like calmness of the
    water, which becomes stained, checkered, shattered, corroded, displaced, harmoniously unmatched, with a rocky and aqueous quality akin to parts of
    the troubled waters of the Negro and Solimões rivers as they meet to form the Amazon River…” (Paulo Herkenhof, Glory! The Great Surge, Adriana
    Varejão, São Paulo, Takano, 2001, p. 119).

    Varejão’s painting becomes an amalgamation of geometric, decorative form and symbolic, metaphoric exploration. The piece at once provides
    a structural masterpiece and a representation of human fragility. Its associations with water, current and mobility represent the imminent
    decomposition of organic elements. Varejão manages to transmit the fluidity of the progression of time along with the silent desolation of the
    failure of ideologies. The totally enclosed environment she depicts seems to possess an intimacy and a sense of the lack of exteriority: reality has
    no access to this closed space. The work is mute and, in its elements of functionality, provokes a feeling of anticipation and expectation.
    Her pictorial corpus becomes a friction between the two underlying intentions pertaining to art: aesthetic and the symbolic. Varejão projects
    the elements of shape and geometry, sparseness and accumulation, transparency and density as a means to effectuate symbolic significance.
    Her work alludes to expansion and transformation whilst drawing understanding and inspiration from the past, to lend perspective to the
    present: “But my art also wants to deal with parody, criticise history. So I use - for instance - the art history of Brazil: I use the same old painters but
    to tell different stories, and I mix elements and create fictions”. (Adriana Varejão, www.huffngtonpost.com).

  • Artist Biography

    Adriana Varejão

    Brazilian • 1964

    The diverse work of Brazilian artist Adriana Varejão examines such themes as anthropology and miscegenation in contemporary Brazilian society. Born in 1964 in Rio de Janeiro, Varejão possesses an oeuvre spanning painting, sculpture, works on paper, installation and photography.

    A common motif in Varejão's oeuvre is that of the Azulejo, a traditional Portuguese ceramic tile. In her most famous series, Jerked-beef ruin (2000-'04), Varejão ruptures the ceramic tiles violently exposing a flesh-like interior. The stark contrast between the aesthetically pleasing blue geometric tiles and the visceral interior provides commentary on modern forms of colonization in contemporary Brazilian society.

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A Grande Curva

oil and plaster on canvas
150 x 150 cm (59 x 59 in.)
Signed, titled and dated 'A Grande Curva "A.Varejão" 2010' on the reverse.

£200,000 - 300,000 

Sold for £422,500

Contact Specialist
Peter Sumner
Head of Contemporary Art, London
[email protected]
+44 207 318 4063

Contemporary Evening Sale

London Auction 2 July 2014 7pm