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The voice of a painter

Rafael Vogt Maia Rosa | 2020

When Renata Pelegrini´s first solo exhibition was held in February 2016 notes were published in  the catalogue and an article appeared in a newspaper with comments that are worth taking  another look at here for a reflection on the current phase of her work. First the tangential  nature of the modern based on the approach taken by Taisa Palhares between some works in  the exhibition and Henri Matisse´s Porte-fenêtre à Collioure (1914). Then the coincidence seen  by Antonio Gonçalves Filho between aspects of Pelegrini´s painting and a fundamental  ambiguity inscribed in the meanderings of naturalist representation, in canvases by Claire  Sherman. And the reminder of Clarice Lispector´s Água Viva (1973), a book that never stops  thinking about the place of the enunciation and in which we see the voice of a painter emerge.

Pelegrini´s recent production appears to be increasingly based on ambiguity. This ambiguity can  be synthesized through a procedure that blends the universes of pure visuality and literature,  underpinned by a specific knowledge of substantial and psychic issues, such as the possibility of  an automatism existing through the flowing movement and drying time of the acrylic ink when  it is used in the ritual of calligraphy. As a result, the quantifiable terms of this production no  longer allow for generalizations which in the context of her inaugural exhibition seemed  indisputable. This is because the formal aspects confirmed there were those that are based on  singularity, obtained through their metaphysical contingency, stemming from the scarcity or  assumed non-existence in the natural world. In contrast, the artist´s philosophical attempt  stems from a declared spirit of test and intention of a scanning of large areas and chromatic  combinations, as well as from the darker gestures that, in this period of repetition, no longer fit  into the two-dimensional spatiality _ like a smoke ring that can only be seen for a moment _ a  sense that points exactly to the moment of enunciation, to the consideration before the “fatal”  blow.

It is worth remembering here a polyptych which Wesley Duke Lee made in Japan in 1965. In one  of the quadrants, the artist, who was also active in calligraphy, creates what looks like a formally  conclusive and emergency gesture, inscribed in black _ as though in the same possibilities of a  canvas by Franz Kline _ but which appears literally tied with a rope, as if it triggered a finished  process that was appropriable and could be repeated. It was as though it were the branch of a  tree that recovers and restores itself after being pruned. Eyewitnesses say Duke Lee produced  this ensemble in a tiny space and that he specified the frontality relation by putting the parts  together on the ground, bringing the painting closer to the Japanese gardens, as though dealing  with the natural rather than the artistic language. Everything was later coordinated into a kind  of partition screen.

Pelegrini admits clearly in her own words this same tendency towards theatricality today: “The  present interests me as time itself but mainly as place. Architecture and my surroundings have

always been indicators my body has related to in order to find a balance between what is now  and what follows. This tense dynamic lies in the presence of the gesture as well as the speed of  execution in my paintings and drawings; both are creating an architectural structure that is  ambiguous and a place that is shaky: a brittle solidness. What is this place, which has a fullness  and an emptiness, which requires energy to fix itself there and similar effort to abandon it, in an  overlapping of forces and readings? For me, it is the place of the present time and simultaneity,  of vital energy and death: it is the place the body witnesses.”

Two series highlight well how the artist works on her illustrative discipline by creating parallel  measures that intensify our insights into the depletion of the support and bring us an  undisguised virtuosity in her alternatives for the unquestioned proximity to the painting: in the  set of maps she made during her artistic residency in Lisbon, the frontality is deliberately broken  by a register made from the implicit correlation between the strokes, whose degree of  automatism we cannot evaluate beyond her indicative connection, with real routes and the  geography of the city. The forms would no longer be arbitrary there and give the impression of  closeness and even intimacy to what we would see from the heights in this mythical place  where animal and human vision come together.

As for an untitled installation, made between 2017 and 2018, the desire to remove the pure  gesture from the context of painting is seen in the use of projectors that imprint a precise  inventory of experiences on the walls with graphite _ typical of the drawing _ which allude to a  technical cinematic uniformity. In these two projects, the topicality of making art, the  enunciation, is no longer based on the weight of tradition as it detaches itself and returns in  circular experiments as though to promote a naturalization of what was singular by returning it  to the context of experience in which the fantasy still creates abundance.