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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

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

Image of Adriana Varejão in her studio

Adriana Varejão Selects

To coincide with the release of the first English-language monograph on the career of Adriana Varejão—in which her diverse body of work is explored in depth, from her earliest paintings in the 1990s to her most recent multimedia installations—the artist has curated a selection of films as part of a series copresented by Gagosian and Metrograph in the theater and online. The program features cinema exploring themes of eroticism, excess, and science-fiction fatalism.

Carrie Mae Weems’s The Louvre (2006), on the cover of Gagosian Quarterly, Summer 2021

Now available
Gagosian Quarterly Summer 2021

The Summer 2021 issue of Gagosian Quarterly is now available, featuring Carrie Mae Weems’s The Louvre (2006) on its cover.

Installation view, Adriana Varejão: Talavera, Gagosian, West 21st Street, New York, May 3–June 26, 2021. Photo: Rob McKeever

Adriana Varejão: For a Poetics of Difference

Curator Luisa Duarte considers the artist’s oeuvre, writing on Varejão’s active engagement with theories of difference, as well as the cultural specters of the past.

Adriana Varejão: In the Studio

Work in Progress
Adriana Varejão: In the Studio

Join Adriana Varejão at her studio in Rio de Janeiro as she prepares for her upcoming exhibition at Gagosian in New York. She speaks about the inspirations for her “tile” paintings, from Portuguese azulejos to the Brazilian Baroque to the Talavera ceramic tradition of Mexico, and reveals for the first time her unique process for creating these works.

Andrea Domenico Remps, Cabinet of Curiosities, c. 1690, oil on canvas, 39 × 54 inches (99 × 137 cm), Opificio delle Pietre Dure, Florence, Italy.

For Sale: Baby Shoes. Never Worn.

Sydney Stutterheim meditates on the power and possibilities of small-format artworks throughout time.

Adriana Varejão: Transbarroco

Adriana Varejão: Transbarroco

From October 19 to 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

Adriana Varejão: Interiors

Lilia Moritz Schwarcz explores themes that are central to the artist’s oeuvre.

Adriana Varejão: Azulejão

Adriana Varejão: Azulejão

Gagosian director Louise Neri discusses the evolution of the Azulejão series with Adriana Varejão.

Fairs, Events & Announcements

Adriana Varejão (New York: Rizzoli Electa, in association with Gagosian, 2022)

Talk and Book Signing

Adriana Varejão
Louise Neri

Thursday, November 17, 2022, 6pm
Rizzoli Bookstore, New York
www.rizzolibookstore.com

Adriana Varejão will be in conversation with Gagosian director Louise Neri to celebrate the publication of the artist’s first English-language monograph, published by Rizzoli Electa, in association with Gagosian. Edited by Neri, the fully illustrated volume explores Varejao’s diverse body of work in depth and organizes her oeuvre into several conceptual groupings: “Cartographies,” “Antropofagia,” “Mestizaje,” “Baroque,” “Sauna and Baths,” and “Azulejo.” After the talk, Varejão will sign copies of the book, which will be available to purchase at the event.

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Adriana Varejão (New York: Rizzoli Electa, in association with Gagosian, 2022)

Still from Bacurau (2019), directed by Kleber Mendonça Filho

Screening

Adriana Varejão Selects

October 21–30, 2022
Metrograph, New York
metrograph.com

Adriana Varejão has curated a selection of films as part of a series copresented by Gagosian and Metrograph in the theater and online. The program will feature cinema exploring themes of eroticism, excess, and science-fiction fatalism.

Varejão explains: “With these screenings, I’m taking a poetic approach, bringing together films that have opened doors in my art. . . . These aspects are present in my own art in the representations of flesh, in the imagined environments, in the historical parodies. The program also includes more recent remarkable Brazilian productions that resonate with my own thinking.”

Still from Bacurau (2019), directed by Kleber Mendonça Filho

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

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Museum Exhibitions

Installation view, Adriana Varejão: Suturas, fissuras, ruínas, Pinacoteca de São Paulo, March 26–August 1, 2022. Artwork © Adriana Varejão

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Adriana Varejão
Suturas, fissuras, ruínas

March 26–August 1, 2022
Pinacoteca de São Paulo
pinacoteca.org.br

This retrospective, whose title translates to Sutures, Fissures, Ruins, is the most comprehensive solo exhibition of Adriana Varejão’s work to date. Curated by Jochen Volz, director of the Pinacoteca de São Paulo, it gathers together more than sixty works in two and three dimensions made between 1985 and 2022. From her position as both a postcolonial subject and a contemporary painter, Varejão brings an insistent critical scrutiny to bear on the enduring impact of European history, its iconography, and artistic conventions. The exhibition highlights the subversive strategies and their symptoms that have underscored Varejão’s art practice since her Baroque canvases of the early 1990s.

Installation view, Adriana Varejão: Suturas, fissuras, ruínas, Pinacoteca de São Paulo, March 26–August 1, 2022. Artwork © Adriana Varejão

Adriana Varejão, Ruína Brasilis (Brasilis Ruin), 2021 © Adriana Varejão

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Adriana Varejão in
Composições para tempos insurgentes

October 9, 2021–May 8, 2022
Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro
mam.rio

This exhibition, whose title translates to Compositions for Insurgent Times, highlights a multigenerational group of artists who strategically and poetically address the relationship between nature and culture in their work. The exhibition aims to prompt discussions about sustainable urban architecture, questions of diversity and accessibility, and Afro-Brazilian and Western traditions brought together to exercise new ways of building and relating to the world. Work by Adriana Varejão is included.

Adriana Varejão, Ruína Brasilis (Brasilis Ruin), 2021 © Adriana Varejão

Adriana Varejão, Ruina de Charque Lapa, 2001, installation view, NEON, Athens © Adriana Varejão

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Portals

June 11–December 31, 2021
NEON, Athens
neon.org.gr

Portals brings together fifty-nine artists from twenty-seven countries in the newly renovated spaces of the former Public Tobacco Factory, now the Hellenic Parliament Library and Printing House. Inspired by writer Arundhati Roy’s conception of the COVID-19 pandemic as a “portal, a gateway between one world and the next,” the exhibition aims to investigate the new reality revealed through the prism of change and disruption. Work by Ed Ruscha and Adriana Varejão is included.

Adriana Varejão, Ruina de Charque Lapa, 2001, installation view, NEON, Athens © Adriana Varejão

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

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Adriana Varejão in
Casa Carioca

October 1, 2020–August 2, 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

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Press

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