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Adriana Varejão

Adriana Varejão, Talavera Flower, 2020 Oil and plaster on canvas, 70 ⅞ × 70 ⅞ inches (180 × 180 cm)© Adriana Varejão. Photo: Vicente de Mello

Adriana Varejão, Talavera Flower, 2020

Oil and plaster on canvas, 70 ⅞ × 70 ⅞ inches (180 × 180 cm)
© Adriana Varejão. Photo: Vicente de Mello

Adriana Varejão, Green Song – LA, 2017 Oil and plaster on canvas, 70 ⅞ × 70 ⅞ inches (180 × 180 cm)© Adriana Varejão. Photo: Jaime Acioli

Adriana Varejão, Green Song – LA, 2017

Oil and plaster on canvas, 70 ⅞ × 70 ⅞ inches (180 × 180 cm)
© Adriana Varejão. Photo: Jaime Acioli

Adriana Varejão, Monocromo Roma I, 2016 Oil and plaster on canvas, 70 ⅞ × 70 ⅞ inches (180 × 180 cm)© Adriana Varejão, photo by Vicente de Mello

Adriana Varejão, Monocromo Roma I, 2016

Oil and plaster on canvas, 70 ⅞ × 70 ⅞ inches (180 × 180 cm)
© Adriana Varejão, photo by Vicente de Mello

Adriana Varejão, Azulejão (Voluta), 2016 Oil and plaster on canvas, 70 ⅞ × 70 ⅞ inches (180 × 180 cm)© Adriana Varejão. Photo: Vicente de Mello

Adriana Varejão, Azulejão (Voluta), 2016

Oil and plaster on canvas, 70 ⅞ × 70 ⅞ inches (180 × 180 cm)
© Adriana Varejão. Photo: Vicente de Mello

Adriana Varejão, Transbarroco, 2014 Four-channel video (color, sound, 2 min. 51 sec.), overall dimensions variable, edition of 3 + 2 APInstallation view, Sowden House, Los Angeles, October 19–21, 2017© Adriana Varejão. Photo: Mauro Pinheiro

Adriana Varejão, Transbarroco, 2014

Four-channel video (color, sound, 2 min. 51 sec.), overall dimensions variable, edition of 3 + 2 AP
Installation view, Sowden House, Los Angeles, October 19–21, 2017
© Adriana Varejão. Photo: Mauro Pinheiro

Adriana Varejão, Parede com Incisões à la Fontana—Horizontal (Wall with Incisions à la Fontana—Horizontal), 2009–11 Oil on canvas and polyurethane on aluminum and wood support, 47 ¼ × 110 ¼ inches (120 × 280 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, New York© Adriana Varejão

Adriana Varejão, Parede com Incisões à la Fontana—Horizontal (Wall with Incisions à la Fontana—Horizontal), 2009–11

Oil on canvas and polyurethane on aluminum and wood support, 47 ¼ × 110 ¼ inches (120 × 280 cm), Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art, New York
© Adriana Varejão

Adriana Varejão, Figura de Convite III, 2005 Oil on canvas, 78 ¾ × 78 ¾ inches (200 × 200 cm)© Adriana Varejão

Adriana Varejão, Figura de Convite III, 2005

Oil on canvas, 78 ¾ × 78 ¾ inches (200 × 200 cm)
© Adriana Varejão

Adriana Varejão, Celacanto Provoca Maremoto, 2004–08 Oil and plaster on canvas, in 184 parts, each: 43 ⅜ × 43 ⅜ inches (110 × 110 cm)Installation view, Galeria Adriana Varejão, Inhotim Centro de Arte Contemporânea, Brumadinho, Brazil© Adriana Varejão. Photo: Eduardo Eckenfels

Adriana Varejão, Celacanto Provoca Maremoto, 2004–08

Oil and plaster on canvas, in 184 parts, each: 43 ⅜ × 43 ⅜ inches (110 × 110 cm)
Installation view, Galeria Adriana Varejão, Inhotim Centro de Arte Contemporânea, Brumadinho, Brazil
© Adriana Varejão. Photo: Eduardo Eckenfels

Adriana Varejão, Map of Lopo Homem II, 1992–2004 Oil on wood with suture thread, 43 ⅜ × 55 × 4 inches (110 × 140 × 10 cm)© Adriana Varejão

Adriana Varejão, Map of Lopo Homem II, 1992–2004

Oil on wood with suture thread, 43 ⅜ × 55 × 4 inches (110 × 140 × 10 cm)
© Adriana Varejão

Adriana Varejão, Tea and Tiles II, 1997 Oil on canvas, wood, and porcelain, in 16 parts, overall: 102 ⅜ × 145 ¾ × 19 ¾ inches (260 × 370 × 50 cm)© Adriana Varejão

Adriana Varejão, Tea and Tiles II, 1997

Oil on canvas, wood, and porcelain, in 16 parts, overall: 102 ⅜ × 145 ¾ × 19 ¾ inches (260 × 370 × 50 cm)
© Adriana Varejão

Adriana Varejão, O Milagre dos Peixes (The Miracle of the Fish), 1991 Oil and plaster on canvas, 82 ¾ × 67 inches (210 × 170 cm)© Adriana Varejão

Adriana Varejão, O Milagre dos Peixes (The Miracle of the Fish), 1991

Oil and plaster on canvas, 82 ¾ × 67 inches (210 × 170 cm)
© Adriana Varejão

About

The Baroque always connects two extremes, like light and shadow, in one body, one painting. History outside against a wild body inside, cultured and uncultured, cooked and uncooked, greed and expressionism, rationalism and irrationality, cold and hot.
—Adriana Varejão

In her richly diverse oeuvre, Adriana Varejão uses the Baroque tactics of simulation, juxtaposition, and parody to reflect on the mythic pluralism of Brazilian identity and the complex social, cultural, and aesthetic interactions that produced it. Varejão draws upon a potent visual legacy animated by the histories of colonialism and transnational exchange to create a confluence of hybridized forms—paintings that are both architectural and sculptural; theatrical, painted sculptures; mesmerizing multichannel videos—that expose the multivalent nature of memory and representation.

Varejão was born in Rio de Janeiro. She attended the Escola de Artes Visuais do Parque Lage from 1983 to 1985. In 1986 she began to experiment with the medium of oil painting, reimagining in thick impasto the ornate Baroque frescoes and religious relics of the eighteenth-century churches in Ouro Preto, Minas Gerais, Brazil.

In 1992, Varejão spent three months traveling in China, where she studied Song dynasty (960–1279 CE) ceramics and classical Chinese landscape painting. From that journey, she began to consider how Eurocentric narratives distort or even erase the histories of various artistic methods and motifs, and subsequently embarked on a series of paintings in which familiar iconography—maps, religious imagery, colonial genre scenes—is interrupted with simulated bloody gashes and fleshy extrusions, or more subtle narrative subversions. Her work from this period makes explicit reference to the violence and eroticism of Brazilian history in the spirit of antropofagia, a key concept in Brazilian modernism that reclaims the anthropophagic rituals of the Tupi people, transforming the social taboo of cannibalism into a symbolic totem of cultural absorption in postcolonial Brazil.

Upon her return from China, Varejão began collecting examples of regional Brazilian folk art such as ex-votos and azulejos, glazed terra-cotta tiles of Arab origin that have been the most widely used form of decoration in Portuguese national art since the Middle Ages. Fascinated by the azulejo and its legacy in Brazil as a metaphor for both forced and voluntary cultural miscegenation, Varejão developed her Azulejão (Big Tile) paintings (1988–). For the support, she applies a thick layer of viscous plaster to a canvas laid flat; as the plaster slowly dries, the cracks that form produce a cartography of deep surface fissures. While the early Azulejão paintings, featuring fragments of larger schema, were often arranged in vast grids of disrupted narrative, the larger-scale singular works of more recent years present seismic surfaces, at once abstract, geological, and corporeal.

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Adriana Varejão

Photo: Vicente de Mello

Fairs, Events & Announcements

Left: Adriana Varejão. Photo: Vicente de Mello. Right: Luisa Duarte

In Conversation

Adriana Varejão
Luisa Duarte

Thursday, June 17, 2021, 1pm edt

Join Gagosian for a dialogue between Adriana Varejão and Brazilian critic and curator Luisa Duarte on the occasion of Varejão’s exhibition Talavera, on view at Gagosian, New York, through June 26. The pair will discuss Varejão’s unique approach to painting in the context of Latin American history, culture, and politics. Duarte’s new essay on Varejão’s oeuvre, “For a Poetics of Difference,” appears in the Summer issue of the Gagosian Quarterly, and she curated the 2019 survey exhibition Adriana Varejão: Por uma retórica canibal, presented in both Salvador and Recife, Brazil. Organized in partnership with Fortes D’Aloia & Gabriel, the conversation will be conducted in Portuguese and streamed online with English subtitles. This is the first of two events presented in conjunction with the exhibition, hosted over the course of two consecutive days.

Left: Adriana Varejão. Photo: Vicente de Mello. Right: Luisa Duarte

Left: Adriana Varejão. Photo: Vicente de Mello. Right: Pedro Alonzo. Photo: René Castelán Foglia

In Conversation

Adriana Varejão
Pedro Alonzo

Friday, June 18, 2021, 1pm edt

Join Gagosian for a walkthrough of the exhibition Adriana Varejão: Talavera at Gagosian, New York, led by the artist together with Mexican curator Pedro Alonzo. In 2017, Varejão and Alonzo made a research trip to Mexico to study Talavera poblana, the richly diverse ceramic tradition that inspired the current exhibition. While guiding viewers through the exhibition, the pair will recount their experiences and the many references—from Indigenous and pre-Hispanic to colonial and modernist—for this body of work, revealing some of the potent narratives inherent in material culture, global trade, art history, and the corresponding power dynamics in Mexico and Brazil. This is the second of two events presented in conjunction with the exhibition, hosted over the course of two consecutive days.

Left: Adriana Varejão. Photo: Vicente de Mello. Right: Pedro Alonzo. Photo: René Castelán Foglia

Photo: Vicente de Mello

Artist Spotlight

Adriana Varejão

February 24–March 2, 2021

Adriana Varejão uses the tactics of the Baroque—simulation, juxtaposition, and parody—to reflect on the mythic pluralism of Brazilian identity and the social, cultural, and aesthetic interactions that produced it. In various mediums, Varejão draws upon a potent visual legacy stemming from the histories of colonialism and transnational exchange to create a confluence of hybridized forms—paintings that are architectural or sculptural, theatrical painted sculptures, mesmerizing multichannel video—which expose the multivalent nature of memory and representation.

Photo: Vicente de Mello

See all News for Adriana Varejão

Museum Exhibitions

Adriana Varejão, Ruína Modernista II, 2018 © Adriana Varejão. Photo: Eduardo Ortega

On View

Adriana Varejão in
Casa Carioca

Through August 2021
Museu de Arte do Rio, Rio de Janeiro
museudeartedorio.org.br

This exhibition, initially presented online due to the global health crisis, brings together approximately eight hundred works around themes related to the home and life in Rio de Janeiro and Brazil. It was conceived as part of the cultural program for the 27th World Congress of the International Union of Architects, which will be held in Brazil for the first time in July 2021. Work by Adriana Varejão is included.

Adriana Varejão, Ruína Modernista II, 2018 © Adriana Varejão. Photo: Eduardo Ortega

Adriana Varejão, Horto Jerked-Beef Ruin (diptych), 2001 © Adriana Varejão

Closed

Time for Outrage!
Art in Times of Social Anger

October 29, 2020–January 10, 2021
Kunstpalast Düsseldorf, Germany
www.kunstpalast.de

Based on a 2010 manifesto of the same title by former French resistance fighter Stéphane Hessel, the exhibition Time for Outrage! brought together more than forty international artists who visualize, reflect on, and comment on various facets of anger and rage in our society during this era of political turmoil and democratic crisis. Work by Taryn Simon and Adriana Varejão was included.

Adriana Varejão, Horto Jerked-Beef Ruin (diptych), 2001 © Adriana Varejão

Adriana Varejão, Map of Lopo Homem II, 1992–2004 © Adriana Varejão

Closed

Adriana Varejão in
An Exhibition with Works By . . .

January 19–August 23, 2020
Witte de With, Rotterdam, Netherlands
www.wdw.nl

Focusing on works made in the medium of ceramic, this exhibition explored how national identities can be forged through aesthetics. Considering the immigration of forms, it fostered a dialogue about global trade and about the role played by colonial enterprises and cultural influence. Work by Adriana Varejão was included.

Adriana Varejão, Map of Lopo Homem II, 1992–2004 © Adriana Varejão

Adriana Varejão, Parede com Incisões à la Fontana—Horizontal (Wall with Incisions à la Fontana—Horizontal), 2009–11, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York © Adriana Varejão. Photo: Jaime Acioli

Closed

Adriana Varejão in
Home Is a Foreign Place

April 9, 2019–June 21, 2020
Met Breuer, New York
www.metmuseum.org

This exhibition featured a diverse group of paintings, sculptures, installations, and videos made between 1944 and 2016 that explored artistic engagements with language, architecture, space, politics, and media. The thematic installation asked viewers to reconsider what it means to make a home in the world, whether by chance, necessity, or choice. Work by Adriana Varejão was included.

Adriana Varejão, Parede com Incisões à la Fontana—Horizontal (Wall with Incisions à la Fontana—Horizontal), 2009–11, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York © Adriana Varejão. Photo: Jaime Acioli

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Press

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