Since the mid-1990s, Adriana Varejão has explored two juxtaposing themes – flesh and tiles – drawing on the decorative tradition of her native Brazil to examine the confluence of cultures and underlying tensions: between beauty and violence, geometric order and the visceral body.
For her latest exhibition at Victoria Miro Venice, she will present a series of paintings that refer to details of public baths in Budapest and also an abandoned swimming pool near Rio de Janeiro.
While her previous paintings represent idealised, near-monochromatic tiled interiors, these new works are painterly evocations of existing places of wellness, leisure and ablution. Relating to ideas such as asepsis, they are equally concerned with traditional painterly concerns and aspirations, such as the desire to capture in oil on canvas the transparency of water and endless modulations of light across its surface. The subtleties of form and atmosphere in these works resonate especially strongly with the historic city of Venice, where liquid and solid are held in fragile balance and perception is subject to the endless interplay of water, light and reflection.
We love how Adriana paints the light that dances across the surface of a tiled pool, echoing its grid formation in the cool, blue shallows while fracturing into staccato, calligraphic marks where it falls across deeper, darker water. Adriana Varejão will run at Victoria Miro Venice from 14 July to 8 September 2018.