Gagosian is pleased to announce a special event at the legendary John Sowden House by Adriana Varejão, one of Brazil’s most renowned living artists. For three consecutive evenings, Varejão’s four-channel video installation Transbarroco (2014) will play across the facade and in the central courtyard of this extraordinary heritage building. This US premiere coincides with her first-ever West Coast exhibition, Interiors, at Gagosian Beverly Hills.
In sweeping cinematic takes of the sumptuous interiors of Brazilian Baroque churches, and an accompanying sound collage, Transbarroco points to key cultural influences in Varejão’s oeuvre. Described by Varejão as “jewels of the mestizo Brazilian Baroque,” the four churches that appear in the film are among the most significant examples of local religious architecture of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries: the Church of San Francisco in Salvador, Bahia; the Third Order of Saint Francis in Rio de Janeiro; the Church of Saint Francis of Assisi in Ouro Preto; and the Cathedral of Mariana in Mariana, Minas Gerais. Transbarroco unfolds across four screens in scenes entitled Gold, The Blue, Sky and Earth, and China. Panning horizontally and vertically, the camera captures the diverse figures, surfaces, and sometimes incongruous elements that appear in the church interiors.
The soundscape that underscores the video installation is a collage of text, voices, sounds, and contrasting rhythms. Within the mix that combines the drumming of the Bahia-based collective Olodum, the music of the Mariana Cathedral organ, and ambient sounds captured during the filming—the voices of church guides, children playing, church bells, and fragments of samba music—the Angolan writer José Eduardo Agualusa reads an excerpt from Gilberto Freyre’s Casa-Grande & Senzala (The Masters and the Slaves), which addresses the influence of the vernacular language of endearment used by black nannies toward the children in their care on the evolution of the Portuguese language in Brazil.
The John Sowden House was built in 1926 by Frank Lloyd Wright, Jr., in Los Feliz on the border of Hollywood. The house is noted for its use of hand-cast textile blocks and for its striking facade and internal layout, resembling a Mayan temple. The original owner was a painter and photographer who hired his friend, the eldest son of Frank Lloyd Wright, to build a “home” that would serve as a performance and exhibition space for the emerging Hollywood artistic community. The house is constructed using concrete textile blocks and looks inward—both vital precursors to the development of modern (California) architecture.
Frank Lloyd Wright, Sr., designed several textile block homes in the Los Angeles area in the 1920s on which Lloyd Wright, Jr., served as construction manager, including Ennis House, Storer House, Samuel Freeman House, and Hollyhock House. These houses by father and son are now some of the most famous residential landmarks in the world, and are included in the US National Register of Historic Places.
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.
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.
For Sale: Baby Shoes. Never Worn.
Sydney Stutterheim meditates on the power and possibilities of small-format artworks throughout time.
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.
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