Through her vastly evocative works and materially diverse artistic practice, Adriana Varejão presents incisive reflections on the multiplex nature of Brazilian history, memory, and culture. Her oeuvre encompasses painting, sculpture, photography, and video installation. Reflected in her hybridization of mediums in manifold forms—including sculptural paintings and floor-based sculptural works—is the syncretism immanent to Brazil’s postcolonial identity. Varejão draws upon aesthetic traditions and a visual legacy resulting from transnational exchange, imperial and otherwise, to create a confluence of forms that she ultimately conceives as a metaphor for the modern world.
Varejão was born in 1964 in Rio de Janeiro. Her work has been featured in solo museum exhibitions worldwide, including Azulejões, Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, Rio de Janeiro and Brasília (2001); Chambre d’échos / Câmara de ecos, Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Paris (2005, traveled to Centro Cultural de Belém, Lisbon; and DA2, Salamanca, Spain); Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo (2007); Inhotim Centro de Arte Contemporânea, Brumadinho, Brazil (2008); Adriana Varejão: Histórias às Margens, Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo (2012, traveled to Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro; and Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires, through 2013); Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (2014); Kindred Spirits, Dallas Contemporary (2015); and Transbarroco, Villa Medici, Rome (2016). Her work is held in the collections of the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Inhotim Centro de Arte Contemporânea, Brumadinho, Brazil; Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo; Museu de Arte do Rio, Rio de Janeiro; Coleção Gilberto Chateaubriand, Rio de Janeiro; Tate, London; Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Paris; Fundació Bancària “la Caixa,” Barcelona, Spain; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; and Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, among others.
In 2008 a permanent pavilion dedicated to Varejão’s work was inaugurated at Inhotim Centro de Arte Contemporânea in Brazil. In 2016 she was commissioned to produce a temporary mural, based on her epic work Celacanto provoca maremoto, which covered the entire facade of the Centro Aquático for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Varejão lives and works in Rio de Janeiro.
Artschwager, Chamberlain, Twombly, Varejão, Wall, Weatherford
July 19–August 31, 2018
October 19–21, 2017
The Sowden House, Los Angeles
September 14–October 25, 2017
Extended through January 14, 2017
October 1, 2016–January 14, 2017
Adriana Varejão: Transbarroco
From October 19–21, 2017, Adriana Varejão’s video installation Transbarroco (2014) played across the façade and in the central courtyard of the historic John Sowden House, designed by Lloyd Wright in 1926.
Adriana Varejão: Interiors
Lilia Moritz Schwarcz explores themes that are central to the artist’s oeuvre.
Adriana Varejão: Azulejão
Gagosian director Louise Neri discusses the evolution of the Azulejão series with Adriana Varejão.
Adriana Varejão was commissioned by Sesc Guarulhos, Brazil, to create a mural for the building’s entranceway. Cores Polvo (2019) is comprised of seven giant abstract color wheels that address issues of race, colonialism, and self-identification. The skin-tone shades featured in the motifs were inspired by a 1976 Brazilian government survey in which ordinary citizens were invited to describe their own skin tones in terms meant to replace the existing five previously established characterizations.
Adriana Varejão, Cores Polvo, 2019 © Adriana Varejão
Adriana Varejão, Luisa Duarte, Ayrson Heráclito, Lilia Moritz Schwarcz
Tuesday, April 16, 2019, 4pm
Museu de Arte Moderna da Bahia, Salvador, Brazil
On the occasion of the opening of Adriana Varejão–Por uma retórica cannibal at the Museu de Arte Moderna da Bahia, Adriana Varejão will speak with curator Luisa Duarte, artist Ayrson Heráclito, and anthropologist Lilia Moritz Schwarcz about Afro-Brazilian history and culture. The event is free and open to the public.
Adriana Varejão, Azulejão (Neo-concrete), 2016 © Adriana Varejão
Adriana Varejão, Lilia Moritz Schwarcz, João Biehl
Friday, March 8, 2019, 12–1:30pm
Louis A. Simpson Building, Princeton University, New Jersey
Adriana Varejão has been invited to be the first artist-in-residence at Brazil LAB at Princeton Institute for International and Regional Studies. The multidisciplinary research and teaching hub explores Brazil’s history, politics, and culture. To mark the start of the residency, Varejão will speak with anthropologists Lilia Moritz Schwarcz and João Biehl in a discussion titled “Decolonizing Art.” The event is free and open to the public.
Photo: Matteo D’Eletto
Por uma retórica canibal
Through September 8, 2019
Museu de Arte Moderna Aloísio Magalhães, Recife, Brazil
The exhibition seeks to emphasize that Adriana Varejão was already developing research on a historical revision of colonialism long before postcolonial studies were at the center of the contemporary art debate. The show features some twenty works, made between 1992 and 2016, that refer to Salvador, Bahia, the city with the largest African heritage in Brazil and the municipality that inspired much of Varejão’s poetics. This exhibition has traveled from the Museu de Arte Moderna da Bahia in Salvador, Brazil.
Adriana Varejão, Quadro Ferido (Wounded Painting), 1992 © Adriana Varejão. Photo: Eduardo Ortega
Adriana Varejão in
America Will Be!: Surveying the Contemporary Landscape
Through September 15, 2019
Dallas Museum of Art
Drawing on works from the museum’s permanent collection, this exhibition investigates the ways in which contemporary artists engage with landscapes, broadly defined, exploring how our natural and built environments intersect with our representations of ourselves and our communities. The show aims to delve into how contemporary “landscapes” might better reflect the full diversity of the people who inhabit North and South America. Work by Adriana Varejão is included.
Adriana Varejão, Ruína de Charque–Vigário Geral (Vigário Geral Jerked-Beef Ruin), 2002 (detail), Dallas Museum of Art © Adriana Varejão
Adriana Varejão in
Home Is a Foreign Place
Through June 2020
Met Breuer, New York
This exhibition features a diverse group of paintings, sculptures, installations, and videos made between 1944 and 2016 that explore artistic engagements with language, architecture, space, politics, and media. The thematic installation asks viewers to reconsider what it means to make a home in the world, whether by chance, necessity, or choice. Work by Adriana Varejão is included.
Adriana Varejão, Parede com Incisões à la Fontana—Horizontal (Wall with Incisions à la Fontana—Horizontal), 2009–11 © Adriana Varejão. Photo: Jaime Acioli
Adriana Varejão in
Hinge Pictures: Eight Women Artists Occupy the Third Dimension
March 14–June 16, 2019
Contemporary Arts Center New Orleans
Hinge Pictures: Eight Women Artists Occupy the Third Dimension takes its name from the writings of Marcel Duchamp in his La boite verte (1934). The artists in the exhibition use formal constraint—a commitment to abstraction—to demonstrate social liberation and to confront the patrimony of European modernism. Work by Adriana Varejão is included.
Adriana Varejão, Big Polvo Color Wheel V, 2018 © Adriana Varejão. Photo: Jaime Acioli