Marina Perez Simão - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale London Thursday, March 7, 2024 | Phillips

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  • “Paintings are the impression of my body and the scale that I can reach.”
    —Marina Perez Simão   


    Lingering on the borders of figuration and abstraction, Marina Perez Simão’s Untitled is beguiling in both colour and scale. A vibrant colourscape eluding orientation or distinct location, translucent layers of purple, turquoise, green, and terracotta brown swell, on the edge of resolving into recognisable natural forms before surging and dissolving once again.


    Marina Perez Simão’s landscapes are extensions of her mind and body, informed by experience and intuition. Born into an artistic household in Vitória, Perez Simão’s childhood was spent between her birthplace and other regions of Brazil like Minas Gerais and Rio de Janeiro. Though both her mother and grandmother painted, Perez Simão first attended law school: lectures that she balanced with painting and ceramics classes. After resolving to pursue art full-time, Perez Simão attended the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, graduating in 2008. It was during her seven-year stay in Paris that Perez Simão resolved to focus on the essence of mark making. Working primarily in black and white with pencil and paper, for a year and a half during composition class Perez Simão copied Peter Paul Rubens’ The Exchange of Princesses from 1625: a fixation on monochromatism and figuration that would be overcome by colour and sensation.


    For Perez Simão, the landscape is a mode of exploring her heritage alongside more abstract emotions. Like Georgia O’Keeffe who after 1929 began to situate American identity in the New Mexican wilderness beyond Manhattan, Perez Simão’s landscapes are distinctly Brazilian. The organic colour and forms of Untitled, composed of undulating peaks and crevasses seem references to Minas Gerais’ topography, shaped by the mining industry.


    Aerial view of Itabira, state of Minas Gerais, Brazil. Image: Universal Images Group North America LLC / DeAgostini / Alamy Stock Photo

    Simultaneously, like O’Keeffe, Perez Simão’s painting is metaphysical and ambivalent. In the upper section of the canvas, the luminous circular form could refer to the sun, the landmass mountains and the thin green band a horizon. Yet, as if left on the cusp of a fully realised thought or a fragment of a memory, the forms do not fully reveal themselves: a mid-way between matter and the intangible. It is a state that Perez Simão explains is ‘rooted in the feeling of living in the landscape, rather than the landscape itself’.i


    Georgia O’Keeffe, Black Mesa Landscape, New Mexico / Out of Marie’s II, 1930, Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, Sante Fe, New Mexico. Image: Albert Knapp / Alamy Stock Photo, Artwork:  © Georgia O'Keeffe Museum/DACS, London 2024

    A practice deeply grounded in her studio, Perez Simão approaches painting with an athletic rigour. Beginning at five in the morning with preparatory drawings, then watercolours, her final paintings are executed in oil, standing afoot: a process Perez Simão compares to a ballerina practising for a dance.ii Music like memory, informs her painting, as Perez Simão’s studio is filled with the songs of musicians like Cesária Évora and Charles Mingus. It is in this environment that paint and colour is able to be ‘tuned’ by Perez Simão and realised at the right ‘pitch’.iii


    Collector’s Digest


    • A creative practice that ranges from oil painting to watercolour, collage and drawing to printmaking, Marina Perez Simão is known for her ebullient, vibrant landscapes that blur the boundaries between figuration and abstraction.


    • Among a new, inventive wave of female colourists like Francesca Mollet, Michaela Yearwood-Dan and Jadé Fadojutimi, Marina Perez Simão since joining Mendes Wood DM in 2010 has been the subject to a range of solo shows internationally. After joining Pace in January 2021, Perez Simão is currently being exhibited with the gallery’s satellite in Los Angeles until March 2024.


    • Marina Perez Simão’s work is held in several significant public collections worldwide, including the Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain de Saint-Étienne, France; the Long Museum, Shanghai; the Institute of Contemporary Art Miami, Florida and the Albertina Museum, Austria.


    i Marina Perez Simão, quoted in Sofia Hallström, ‘In the Studio with Marina Perez Simão’, Émergent Magazine, September 14, 2022, online.

    ii Marina Perez Simão, quoted in Victoria Woodcock, ‘Step into these technicolour worlds,’ The Financial Times, September 25, 2022, online.

    iii Marina Perez Simão, quoted in Sofia Hallström, ‘In the Studio with Marina Perez Simão’, Émergent Magazine, September 14, 2022, online.

    • Provenance

      Mendes Wood DM, Brussels
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      Brussels, Mendes Wood DM, Marina Perez Simão: Éveils Maritimes, 10 October 2020-20 January 2021

    • Literature

      Osman Can Yerebakan, Marina Perez Simão, New York, 2022, pp. 94-97, 99 (detail illustrated, pp. 94-97; illustrated, p. 99)



signed and dated 'MARINA PEREZ SIMÃO 6.8.20' on the reverse
oil on canvas
170.2 x 136 cm (67 x 53 1/2 in.)
Painted in 2020.

Full Cataloguing

£60,000 - 80,000 

Sold for £152,400

Contact Specialist

Rosanna Widén
Senior Specialist, Head of Evening Sale
+44 20 7318 4060

Olivia Thornton
Head of 20th Century & Contemporary Art, Europe
+44 20 7318 4099


20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

London Auction 7 March 2024