Infiltrating oneself in the world through gestures
The alchemical power of Renata Pelegrini
Renata Pelegrini is an artist who unfolds in many ways. From her work_ which mixes the livingness of existence with an unfathomable character_ something precious stands out, a kind of semantic tremor, a crack, or infiltration that is established in the relationship with reality. In an undecidable and indecipherable language_ at times aquatic, at times populated by diverse and more palpable materials_ she refuses meaning, pierces knowledge, and assumes testing and porosity as axes of a very singular invention.
The artist´s body infiltrates the body of the world. Passing through the waters and addressing different objects and materials, she spreads her inventive gestures 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 project “Trilogy of Water” and invites us to follow this path of weavings and intimate writings.
From mineral matter, from plants or winged roots, she extracts the strength of the fragmenet and turns this segmentary logic into power and subtlety. Her gaze traverses 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 deposited. They are arteries or corals, transmutations, old knitting needles, brushes, trunks of plants, all in a coexistence that combines inside and outside, natural and instinctual bodies, poetry and science.
The idea of infiltration is in everything, as in her grandmother’s embroidery patterns that become a backbone and are transformed into corals that, in turn, are transformed into arteries, into a flow of lines and viscera. In her work – which both pierces and creates the stitch – there has been, from the beginning, a restlessness that condensates layers, textures and multiple gestures in the painting, which now return and expand in a cartography that is at once intimate and political.
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 north of her work. There are also the “fossils” that bring the buzz of feminine powers, reproductions of old knitting patterns, or bits of places – residues of cities on the other side of the ocean. Her relationship with the origin is established by the sensitivity and, essayistic 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 a number of ways.
The work of Renata Pelegrini is, above all, a writing that, as in the 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, 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 knitting 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.
In so many movements, water appears as the element of transitions and mutations, as the fundamental scheme of mixtures. Combining rigor and fruition, Renata Pelegrini bets on a territory in which the hidden and the unspeakable emerge together with the image, exploding from the inside, turning the world upside down and providing the appearance of flow that wanders and tries to find an anchorage in the indetermination, in a moving place 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 more or less 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.
Bianca Coutinho Dias