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Infiltrating oneself in the world through gestures – The alchemical power of Renata Pelegrini

Bianca Coutinho Dias | 2022

Renata Pelegrini is an artist who develops in many ways and something precious stands out from  her work – which mixes the living of existence with an unfathomable character – which is a kind of semantic  tremor, a crack or infiltration that establishes itself in the relationship with the real. In an indecisive and  indecipherable language – sometimes aquatic and at others occupied by diverse and more tangible  materials – she rejects meaning, pierces knowledge, and takes an approach in which testing, and  permeability become the axe of a truly unique invention.

The artist´s body infiltrates itself into the body of the world. Passing through the waters and  addressing herself to objects and various materials, she spreads her gestures of invention and is touched by  things, keeping an intimate vibration from them. Her course – a unique seam hooked by the connection between gesture, memory, and materiality – culminates in the “Water Trilogy” project and invites us to  follow this path of intimate weavings and writings.

She extracts from mineral matter, plants, or winged roots the strength of the fragment and creates  power and subtlety from this segmented thinking. Her gaze crosses light and dark and creates things – such  as a tray of bones or a table – on which reinvented memories of the arc of existence itself are laid. They are  arteries or corals, transmutations, old needles, brushes, trunks of plants, all coexisting in a way that  conjugates natural and pulsating bodies, poetry, and science within and without.

The idea of infiltration is in everything, as in her grandmother’s embroidery patterns that become a  backbone and are transformed into corals. These, in turn, are converted into arteries in a flow of lines and  viscera. There has been a restlessness right from the beginning in her work – which pierces and creates the  stitch – that condensates multiple layers, textures and gestures in the painting which now return and  expand in a cartography that is intimate and political at the same time.

Renata Pelegrini uses relentless movements and traces paths of a lifetime. She moves from the  gesture of painting towards an infinite pulverization of gesture in which she can decal doors and  monuments, capture reliefs found throughout the world, create writings and grooves from the surface or  from the depths of the ocean.

The first cold ceramic pieces were called “arteries and entrails,” the most profound way to name the  viscera that has always existed as the guiding star of her work. There are also the “fossils” that bring the  buzz of feminine powers, reproductions of old knitting patterns, or bits of places – leftovers from cities on  the other side of the ocean. Her relationship with the origin is established by the sensitivity and didactic testing and multiple dedication to various supports, materials, and objects, from the relationship with  masks of Iberian origin to collections of small unlikely elements such as plant roots, which touch on the  inaugural dimension in several ways.

Renata Pelegrini’s work is, above all, writing that, as in Brazilian writer Clarice Lispector´s “Living  Water”, occurs as an experience of crossing the limit, diving into the jungle of words or images, overflowing  as a radical experience with language.

Clarice Lispector´s writing is for the essayist Silviano Santiago, “a river that inaugurates its own  course”. The character in “Living Water”, who is familiar with cave images and the aquatic mystery, makes a  pure improvisation with words and risks crossing the borders between languages. Renata Peligrini´s work  also reveals itself from an inaugural experience. She is seized and enchanted by such different materials,  writes down her experience of dreams and descends to the roots, diving into the abyss as she does so. This  analogy – between the process put forward by the narrator of Lispector’s work and the mystery of Renata Peligrini´s creation – unveils zones of passage that operate conceptually in the poetic and artistic exercise.  They are shells, winged roots, cracks, and voids, that which lives in the depths of mystery, masks, epiphytic  plants, and brushes. Everything lives in the twilight and the enigma of a memory as ancestral as it is future,  reminding us of a beautiful phrase by Ailton Krenak: “the ancestral is now”.

The artist then becomes an inventor of times and geographies, with capillarity and permeability that include the animal, the mineral, the plants, and the ocean. The movements of the body itself, of all  things, a new knowledge – or a non-knowledge – is pursued there. They are twists and turns that reveal  themselves along the way: as a teacher she turns from disciplinary calligraphy to oriental calligraphy, a  means of impregnation that occurs through drawing, gesture, or writing. From the table set with sticks,  corals, and grandmother´s needles, a corporeal presence pulses and expands like a force that, coming from  the beginning of the path through the painting, branches out through fossils, roots, shells and objects of  various margins and thicknesses. The traces of life are updated in the work, while the work updates life and  the world.

Water appears in so many movements as the element of transactions and mutations and the  fundamental scheme of the mixtures. Renata Pelegrini combines rigor and fruition and bets on a territory  where the hidden and the unspeakable emerge together with the image and blow it up from within, going  round the world and allowing the appearance of a flow that wanders and tries to find an anchorage in the  indetermination, in a place of movement that rejects ready-made representations. A meaning, as in poetry,  always to be made.

In the beautiful essay “In Praise of Hands”, Henri Focillon claims that the possession of the world  requires this kind of tactile sense. He says: “Vision glides through the universe. The hand knows that the  object is inhabited by the weight, that it is smooth or rough, that it is not welded to the background of sky  or earth with which it seems to form a single body. The action of the hand defines the hollowness of the  space and the fullness of the things that occupy it.” This is precisely the place of the summons of the  gesture in the work of Renata Pelegrini who knows that hands are needed to produce an experience of the  world that the gesture embodies. Gesture is regarded as an ethic to be reinvented and invoked. There is an  organic and visceral materiality – as she herself defines it – that governs the figurations and disfigurations of  her work in a kaleidoscope of intense delicacy where aspects are rearranged with enormous aesthetic  finesse.

It is not by chance that all the expansions, reduction exercises and concentric and eccentric  movements end up in the waters. It is a multiple work, open to the porous field of existence, where art and  life are coordinated in a unique, dizzying way. Her restless, glittering ideas in a precious relationship with  the void that embraces the force of the waves, the stillness of listening to the noise of a shell, arteries and  corals, pulsating, create a kind of aquatic and corporeal cosmology. Her painting expands and reaches the  limits of language and matter which the psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan called real. The inexpressible that lives  in the writing invented by the artist also lives in the gesture of the calligrapher who “writes a letter that  includes a dimension that does not serve communication yet nevertheless stamps and writes something”.

Renata Pelegrini cultivates fragments as relics that hold the essential in an extraordinary alchemy.  They are shards that shake a knowledge that is established and put her work on the edge of what is beyond sense, following the winding path of not-knowing.

Throughout the history of humanity, water sprouts as a symbol of transgression and imagination,  creative overflow, dialectic of reflection and depth and the living substance of poetic images. The artist´s  meeting with the waters sublimates and expands the forms and bundles of relations between measures and  magnitudes, reaches the force of the inexpressible as a bet on a border beyond the ready limits, revealing  the unspeakable and the impossible.