SAO PAOLO, Brazil — The first time I noticed the installations of the Brazilian-born artist Lucia Nogueira, on the 2018 São Paulo Biennial, her work was comparatively unknown in Brazil. Born in 1950, Nogueira emigrated to London, in 1975. She was an influential sculptor, shut with Young British Artists (YBAs) equivalent to Tacita Dean. But her untimely demise, from most cancers in 1998, left her work underexposed.
Now, Brazil is discovering Nogueira posthumously, following a number of solo exhibitions in Europe. Her newest present, at Luisa Strina Gallery in São Paulo, features a beautiful collection of 14 works in watercolor and pencil, entitled Inferno Divine Comedy (1983), present in storage by Nogueira’s husband, the gallerist Anthony Reynolds. This beforehand un-exhibited physique of work sheds new gentle on Nogueira’s manufacturing — notably her present for haunting evocations of the feminine physique.
In its vaporous figuration, Nogueira’s Inferno is sizzling and frightful, as one would anticipate it to be. Decapitated monstrous figures drift in landscapes rendered shortly in useless greens, subtle browns and reds, with hints of fireplace and smoke. In one watercolor, a headless rose-colored feminine physique languishes beneath a sheet. In one other, a trio of bare our bodies hovers above a bath that incorporates a sunken panorama. And but, these lithe, lugubrious eventualities beguile as a lot as they hang-out. Rhythmically composed, the intense orange-pink rawness of uncovered flesh lends them a debauched, oneiric sensuousness. At occasions, their frank, determined carnality at occasions recollects Egon Schiele and Francis Bacon.
The curatorial textual content additionally factors to Nogueira’s personal art-historical references, from William Blake to Eugène Delacroix. The latter’s early-Romantic portray, “The Barque of Dante” (1822), for instance, depicts the condemned clinging to Dante and Virgil’s boat on the River Styx. As in Delacroix’s composition, Nogueira’s reinterpretation possesses a gestural pressure, in energetic strains and different coloration washes. Here, submerged landscapes and mythic figures equivalent to Fortune and Cerberus — Noguiera was additionally impressed by Blake’s “Cerberus” (1824-27) — evoke existential torment, somewhat than spiritual one. Bodies dissolve — almost liquify — into matter, with aquarelle as the proper medium to seize such ghastly transmutation.
The present is framed across the theme of exile, with Nogueira dwelling a lot of her grownup life overseas and Dante banned from Florence. The work of each artists is imbued with longing however one might say that Nogueira took this metaphor additional. For instance, her two small ink-and-watercolor works, each “Untitled” from 1988, evoke a feminine breast not as dwelling flesh however as an alternative a floating, dense, mottled lobe. The breast’s mass touches a wispy purple line in a single watercolor, a pale purple line in one other — an abstraction that however conveys a way of hazard, vulnerability, even muted horror. Melancholic exile certainly involves thoughts, however this time, within the kind of alienation from the totality of one’s personal physique.
Lucia Nogueira continues via January 16, 2021 at Galeria Luisa Strina (Rua Padre João Manuel 755, Cerqueira César 01411-001, São Paulo, Brazil).
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