Skip to main content



Held between 2008 and 2023, the exhibition TENTACULAR by Renata Pelegrini presents part of  a set of works gathered together for the first time. As in Portuguese, tentacular requires the  same spelling and meaning in different languages, such as Spanish, Italian and English. The  word tentacle comes from the Latin tentaculum and means antenna, from tentare, signaling  feeling and trying. The spider, a tentacular arachnid, and the octopus, a tentacular mollusk,  have fingers like humans, and because of their tentaculate form, they are capable of  establishing sophisticated networks and interconnections of lines, not points or spheres.  Articulating tasks, circumstances and occasions throughout the preparations for the show,  there was a specific moment when Renata made a comment expressing feeling full of arms like  an octopus. Her immediate awareness was then to share, through conversations, a text by  Donna Haraway (1944), American biologist and philosopher, entitled: Tentacular Thought:  Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Chthulucene, 2016. From the perspective of geohistory, octopuses  are called marine spiders not only because of their habits. Gaia’s relationship with Chaos goes  back as far as science and philosophy. Selected for the show, the artist presents in chiaroscuro a  tenuous web of works, situations and distinct periods of her production, conforming in b/w and  color a mesh of light and shadow ties. Tentacular is the name of both her artistic research and  her incessant search and way of operating. It represents the place where the horizons of land  (roots), water (sea) and air (sky) meet in a single direction/wander. Without temporal definition,  the fossilized idea of a future is her recycling of concepts, practices and materials. In the  exhibition, we are faced with the rearrangement of the noise and the pause for observation.  The sensorially of silence is below ground and at the bottom of the sea. The antagonism of  white and obscured stillness is present in the architectural details and in the lighting of the  exhibition room. The artist’s body is sometimes anchored at land, sometimes free in the sea  intersection space, which goes from the coast to the high seas. With sea and with the mud,  comes the calm, after the storm.

The famous award-winning documentary Professor Octopus (My Octopus Teacher, 2020) by  Pippa Ehrlich and James Reed spread the reality of multispecies communication. We are all  lichens, says the phytolinguist. We organize ourselves like mushrooms, assumes the mycologist.  Cities look like a coral reef, imagine oceanographers. Let’s play cat’s bed?, invite the children.  One of Renata’s constant works is the exercise of archival reorganization of her own production.  Among influential texts recently read by the artist is the Autobiography of an octopus and other  narratives of anticipation, 2021, by Vinciane Despret (1959), a Belgian philosopher of science  and nature. It is yet another strengthening reference that moved her to the exhibition of pieces  that lie between the calm on the shore and the loosening of the edge.

The grouping of works proposed by the TENTACULAR exhibition is unprecedented. As s master  nautical chart, the sculptural piece of paper with scriptures Olísipo (the name of Lisbon in  Ancient Rome) appears along with Attaccati, which resembles a thought-provoking logbook of  everyday life, highlighting the fragility of life during the most acute pandemic phase.  Yet Strata places calligraphic expressions side by side, and Mappa sews geographic designs such  as navigation maps in cities, urban plans and cartography. From Sentient (the meaning is that of  being who perceive with their senses), one can see displayed on flat surfaces, such as  archeology and paleontology offices, the series Fossils and Arteries and Guts – with masks,  brushes, corals, cirandas, needles, sticks, coins, tools, insects – a tribute in preserving the  memory of the ancestral land. Under a family tree structure, the pieces create a relationship  with the history of the exhibition environment, resulting in an object-artistic-scientific  cataloging of the female universes of the artist’s ancestors.

Sea charts reminds us of a timeless method of instinctively using a pitchfork (hydroesthesia) to  find water in the driest regions of the planet. The objects are inspired by a sensitive graphic,  built by sticks like a rudimentary compass, and which serve to reconnect states of mind and  awaken the sense of direction in ocean navigation of ancient Polynesian canoeist.

TENTACULAR is the current corpus of Renata Pelegrini. The perception of the dexterity of the  card game in hand imbued in the artist’s work is the hypothesis of the curatorship. For this  exhibition, like a jigsaw puzzle, there is the desire to connect fragments of exchanges by fitting  together everything from notions of mind maps to almost fictional impressions of the  underwater scenario played by Dumbo octopus. In her book released during the period of the  exhibition, we can clearly see her milieu as an artist, as it is a unique manipulation of editing, a  shuffling of works in the finite, inciting successes, mistakes, attempts, interweaving and  accidents in endless combinations.

Marcio Harum

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

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.

Bianca Coutinho Dias

Trilogy of water

TRILOGY OF WATER is a group of poetic expressions in my artistic practice. Waves, Corals, and  Deep Sea are pieces in which memories of water appear through the senses and sensors of my  body. The three works give raise to a milieu of relations among various artistic resources,  learnings, and experiences. They are a triad of inflections that have strengthen bonds after my  participation in OCEAN/UNI, especially through the study of Astrida Neimanis’ ideas.

Waves is a narrative of ties in a sequence of drawings that picture some immaterial flux. These  interconnected images resemble a biological creation that eventually, generates seashells_ the  final painted image in the 9-meter-long paper used for this work.

Unrolling part of the paper each day turned Waves into a journal of the artistic residency period  I spent in Lisbon_ where it was made. The movements of the body in the wavelength paper felt  as if I have been hit by waves of memories, one after the other. The intensities of the crest and

trough were remembered in the installation of the work with my desk and chair, which explored  the ideas of continuity and circularity.

Crossing the Atlantic Ocean from Brazil was an invitation to me to reconnect with my roots in  the Iberian Peninsula. The inverted journey, made a century before by the great-grand-women  of my family, was in my memory as a sense of direction I needed to acknowledge.

These feminine stories with water constructed tales of care and kinship that I translated as  drawing and movement investigations in Waves. Handicraft tools, such as wool yarns and  knitting needles, were recalled to my mind and body, and they were amalgamed with other  images of symbiotic cycles, algae, laces, and shells_ elements that are intertwined in the conception of a new world.

Corals is a collection of marine-like-creatures made in cold ceramics. They started as negative  models of surfaces on which the molding clay was pressured against. Touching the ‘skin’ of  women’s hand-knitted cloth, or the architecture of the city, and even objects in my studio, meant to establish relationship with memory and ancestral knowledge.

Togetherness is a base concept in Corals. When the investigation is close to memorabilia and  geographies of ancestry, the final objects resemble fossils; not only because of their  morphology but also because of the ‘presence’ of the element they recall in the void. It’s a  combination of lived times that interests me as a residue of a flux that I want to learn from.

In later works, clay is shaped by hand but not on top of surfaces anymore. As the artistic objects become more autonomous, other issues I am interested in are added to this marine-like ecology. ‘Epiphytes’ originated from my research of social friendly plants that just live together  for company, without being parasites. ‘Listeners’ embodies the desire to listen and learn from

what is unknown about the sea and ecological knowledges. ‘Auga’ is my poetic coral texture,  made of small parts combined for the construction of a new form_ named after the word  ‘water’ in the Mirandese language of the border between Portugal and Spain.

Deep Sea is a performative video as well as an object activation experience. It gives light to my  tentative trials to interact with the unknown_ in this case, my fabricated creatures, and other  objects in my studio. In the dark of the night, lit by the vague reflection of an analog OHP  (overhead projector), Deep Sea is a metaphor of the depth of the ocean.

Under the light, objects become protagonists of untold stories that can only be discovered  through the lenses of the OHP. The device becomes a magnifier of new ways the work can  explore, and it is used as a main source of investigation. As a mediator of realities, the OHP  makes light and shadow, negative and positive models, and other binomials, objects of study and relation. In this sense, the studio becomes a laboratory for deep dives in the dark.

In the video, the speculations about ancestral knowledge flow and the connection with other  lives on earth, such as, roots of certain plants, are questioned through the encounter of my  body in the scene with the creatures projected.


Renata Pelegrini is a Brazilian artist who has lived in the USA and Europe, and now is based in São Paulo. She joined  TBA21-Academy OCEAN/ UNI in 2020. Using an investigative approach that combines different art resources, science  interests and personal experience, she develops her art expression in a hybrid way as the processes unfold. Having  Language Teaching and Education degrees from the University of São Paulo as her first training, she has worked  around layers of communication for years. When Renata gained her diploma in Fine Arts, affinity between humans  and non-humans became an interest that has deepened after her artistic residency at Hangar Lisboa in 2018.

Renata Pelegrini

The voice of a painter

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.

Rafael Vogt Maia Rosa

Renata Pelegrini

“… paintings are not, as people think, feelings – they are experiences. For the sake of painting a single canvas, one must see many cities, men and things.”

Renata Pelegrini arrives at her second individual exhibition (the first in the Janaina Torres Gallery) reaffirming her dedication to painting and drawing. Her research on and questioning of the spaces and phenomenological sensations on this relatively recent journey has become more consistent.

Renata´s production is based on photographs – her own and those taken by others – of places she has visited. This relationship with these spaces transformed into places due to her own personal contact with them is primordial if we are to understand how her conception operates. Paradoxically, in the paintings and drawings, the spaces from which they originate are of little importance. It is the dimension, which is not visible, captured by the artist, that transforms them into a place without space, and this, in turn, lifts the viewer to anywhere and everywhere. The deletion of recognizable reference points also plays its part even though the artist does not make any sleight of hand in doing this so that this understanding and a proof of this integrity with its process is the fact that at one point in its production she wondered whether to give her works names or not. I think the clarity she now has on this is important.

One of the most powerful dimensions of Art occurs when the artist is faced with reality and is not prepared to simply reproduce it but wants to allow the other person to (re)interpret it. It is like a game we play with our thought process in which it will recognize the playing field, learn the rules and decipher the signs until they are completely understood. It is where the interest very often disappears, and we get used to it. If, on the other hand, we have to keep moving, landmarks alter, and this changes what we see. It is in the game between what is recognizable and unrecognizable that our thinking is dislocated; these works of Renata Pelegrini provide a playing field where we can move. However, for this to occur, it is essential to have the presence of aspects that depend on the works for their existence, but which occur outside them. These are aspects such as integrity, disquiet or power since the power of these works does not come from the strong strokes, the assertive line, the surgical incision, the innateness of the black or the thickness of the paint but from the possibility of the thinking of the person who sees them.

Disquiet is expressed in a similar way. Although we cannot dissociate it from artistic work (what artist can dispense with it?) and it makes itself more “visible” on the surface of the canvas or paper, the disquiet of an artist lies in the research, the dedication of doing something, the pursuit of something he or she has never lost and does not exactly know what it is or how it is. This need cannot be fully explained but is so strong in some artists that we can feel it. It can become almost tangible as if the artist was merging herself or himself with what causes them disquiet.

In the case of Renata Pelegrini, accompanying this “merging” will still bring us many surprises, discoveries and, of course, disquieting thoughts. I feel she will share with us, through her works, the idea that “I am the space where I am”.

Adapted from Rainer Maria Rilke in The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge. The original version, with the parts altered in bold type, is: “Verses are not, as people think, feelings — they are experiences. For the sake of a few lines, one must see many cities, men and things.”

Marcelo Salles

Before the darkest hour

Renata Pelegrini´s paintings engulf us and launch us into a different place. Unstable,  disturbing, destabilizing. The São Paulo artist´s contemporary approach to the  landscape reveals more about this strange place, cut by powerful lines of force as well as  by slighter strokes that are slender and more irregular, along with layers of paint, color  and light that highlight strong clashes of different natures. The construction of this  seductive image testifies to Renata´s skills that highlight, through visual tools and  concepts that are more related to think a fleeting and essential existence as well as a  certain consternation in relation to the world.

The first question that arises is what this place is. In “The Urban Condition”, the French  academic Olivier Mongin creates a kind of new theory of urbanism, using concepts of  philosophy, anthropology, and psychoanalysis, amongst other fields. Mongin turns his  back on a certain cynicism arising from the ‘culture of congestion’ of Rem Koolhaas and  investigates the phenomenon of the present-day resident of megacities and the central  needs of these bodies, whether in terms of limits, relationships, exchanges etc. in the  expanded amalgamation of flows today, at a level of information as well as within the  image context. “Thinking about the purpose of the place is the opportunity to re-engage with the urban experience, with the layers that make it up at the center of the global  landscape. Because it is the landscape itself that should give body to another  apprehension of the limits,”¹ he says.

This spatial element marked by the singular is very apparent in Renata´s production and we need to learn a little bit more about her working process and life in order to  comment on it. She graduated in language teaching and spent fairly lengthy periods outside Brazil, particularly in the United States and Italy. She was a language teacher  and calligraphy played a key role during these periods. Calligraphy gave her “discipline  and an almost monastic work,” as she likes to put it. Once she had started to paint, the  graphic element dominated, even at the beginning, marked by a somber chromatic  approach.

The illustrative element then imposes itself and she resourcefully uses acrylic paint  which can fill in both the more common surfaces of the paintings as well as linen which  is finer and more porous. However, the sizes vary through a more generous scale and her work flourishes in a remarkable way. Oddly enough, the flexibility of the acrylic  helps her shorten the creation time of the works although its use seems to last a long  time, i.e. attributes of the oil, usually seen as ‘denser’. As a result, the images are more  eye catching. The original background disappears after the layers and paint material are  applied. The strokes are sometimes more concentrated and at other times more liquid.  The color can result from a more obsessive manual action or show itself in a more  dissolved and washed-out way, among other features. What is also admirable in this  chromatic area is the facility with which she uses black and, in more recent stages,  green and ochre. As a result, she renews reference points as different as Soulages and Goeldi, amongst others.

This shifting place Renata has created becomes topical if we think of how she crosses  specific elements of each language. We have just discussed how it relates to painting above, but it also certainly relates to photography, for example. She uses second-hand  images that are available on the Internet or which she has made herself even without  bothering whether they are of ‘good’ quality. However, she always highlights  architecture and places which dispense with the human figure but whose limits are  extremely clear, i.e. the remaining element of the photography is strengthened. When  we consider some of the artist´s works, for example, stories also appear, somehow opaque, like an audiovisual created without any impervious linearity, whose protagonists have disappeared. It is also close to scenic language, as the spaces can  accommodate stages for contemporary subjects, placing the incompleteness of the  ‘scenes’ Renata has created and a kind of theater of the absurd developed in a long lasting state of solitude and solipsism side by side.

The graphic side of Renata´s paintings is evident in works which are “purer” drawings – created with charcoal, chalk, red chalk, graphite, and pastel – or mixed in which there  are strong components of the painting. And the fine line which appears in many of the  artist´s compositions recall what Paulo Pasta has already highlighted about the two supports: “Transience would be the word that best describe her identities and  differences (…) Precision and accumulation, a marriage of risk and condensation”². Furthermore, the diagonal that is so strikingly present in Renata´s canvases reinforce  the comment by Peter Pál Pelbart, in his article The art of living in the lines, on the  concept developed by Deleuze. “(…) The escape or nomadic line is the one that flees and  makes a world disappear, as if something was leading us, through the segments, but  also through our edges, ‘in the direction of an unknown destination which is not visible  or pre-existing,’”³ Pelbart writes.

Therefore, the artist´s graphic-painting corpus underpins her approach in the constant  investigation of a mobile landscape, and which places her firmly in the contemporary  world, weakening a certain modern lexicon firmly placed a priori in the reading of her  production. As a result, Renata Peligrini presents vanishing points, pillars, posts,  bodyguards, perspectives, masts, and other voluminous witnesses of fragile solidity,  between the figure and abstraction, and she gives us a powerful idea about our finiteness.

Mario Gioia, July 2016 

  1. MONGIN, Olivier. A Condição Urbana. (The Human Condition) São Paulo, Estação  Liberdade, 2009, p. 240
  2. DERDYK, Edith (org.). Disegno. Desenho. Desígnio. (São Paulo, Senac São Paulo,  2007, p. 87
  3. DERDYK, Edith. Idem, p. 285

Mario Gioia

The enigma of the window

One of the most iconic paintings of the 20th century is the Porte-fenêtre à Collioure by Henri Matisse which  dates from 1914 but is still enigmatic even today. The composition, in blue, green, grey but mainly black tones,  places itself between the representation and non-representation of a known space, vaguely explained by the title – French Window at Collioure – synthesizing the artist´s relationship with the abstract, which he never really joined.  Therefore, as with other works by Matisse, design and color live in harmony, i.e., none dominates the other, as the  aim is to overcome the dichotomy that has dominated the history of painting since the Renaissance.

The black sums up this relationship as it is both line and color. Indeed, it is the center of the composition,  what we “see” in the inside (or is it the outside?) of the window, the place where our eye settles, issuing a light that  spreads throughout the painting. It is well known that Matisse, the greatest colorist in modern art, was also the  painter who most knew how to exploit black as a color – an issuing of light – and created a series of paintings in  which this tone plays a central role. If it is true that this painting makes a direct reference to another French  masterpiece, Le Balcon (1868) by Manet, it also surprises by the complete lack of narrative. What predominates is  almost a feeling of suspension of any action and the game between the clearness of the almost transparent colors  and the black light. He is the enigma of painting of all times who opened new paths to art.

For me, Renata Pelegrini´s production is directly linked to this tradition of modern painting which is  currently being enthusiastically resumed by a number of contemporary painters. However, this is being done in a  way that is much more visual than intellectual, as it does not mean thinking of the painting in a conceptual way, as  many artists did after 1960, but rethinking this question from the point of view of the act of creation itself. For this  reason, her latest production, the research of which originated in the drawing, conveys a striking graphic quality to  the canvases and presents an enormous coherence.

Her drawings, made in charcoal, red chalk, graphite and chalk, bring a special ambiguity that will mark the  use of black as a color: at one moment, there are lines that structure the spaces, at another there are stains, often  reached by the gesture of erasure. There is a special balance in them between the recognizable space and the  abstract but also between the weight and the light of the black that mesmerizes the eye and the experience of  lightness through the blurred zones of transparent colors.

In the case of her canvases, black remains a source of light that serves as a magnet of composition although  it exists side by side with tones that are equally strong: blue, yellow, ochre, green, grey, terracotta, red and pink,  amongst others. If, on one hand, the construction of the space looks more obvious (and she often starts with a  photographic observation), the composition is never exactly closed or fully recognizable. A game gets going  between the movement of the diagonal outlines, as if suggesting the vanishing point, but which is constantly made  tense, to a certain extent, by forms or masses of almost abstract color. What we have is the temporary balance, accentuated by the exploration of elements that suggest the unfinished, like paint spilling over or the sign of the  brushstroke gesture.

The not so calm world of Renata Pelegrini´s paintings is often traversed by a fine line that is almost  imperceptible, made with a sharp object that scratches the surface of the canvas. These strokes become  protagonists in the composition, pushing our view in new directions. In fact, these are strong lines that destabilize  the instant recognition of what an image would be from what is real. In this situation, they add to the feeling of the  construction and deconstruction of the space and, as a result, our relationship with it which is one of the main  qualities of her work. It reminds us that the art that matters, whether pictorial or not, is always an enigma.

Taisa Palhares

The landscape of the century at the limit of abstraction

The game between the real and digital in the paintings and the  drawings of Renata Pelegrini

The question of the sublime in contemporary landscape is not  naturally marked by the conception that Burke and Kant had in  the past nor by the numinous aspect raised by Rudolf Oto after  them. Probably not even the post-modern approach of Lyotard  could be seen as a reference when it comes to trying to redefine  the sublime in contemporary art as he considers only partly  considers how the new technologies are changing this concept.  Renata Pelegrini, a painter who is opening her first individual  exhibition this Friday (February 26, 2016), may be a great help  to those who are disposed to discuss the sublime and the  artistic representation of nature closely linked to the  perception of the natural world brought together by digital  means. Her exhibition at the Casa Contemporânea center brings  together 20 of her works, including drawings and paintings.  These works show how the contemporary artist, backed by the  latest digital technology, reacts to the way contemporary  society controls how it looks at things by forcefully presenting her subjective approach to the technique of painting.

These works of interiors to landscapes, recreated with the help  of digitalized imaging, are inserted into a current of  contemporary painting that swings between representation and  abstraction. The American painter Claire Sherman, to mention  only one name that appears to have some affinity with Renata Pelegrini´s paintings, seems to share some philosophical and  esthetic questions with her, particularly Rancière´s theories on  the game between the “visible presence” and invisibility.  Rancière, whose interest in esthetic production originated in  Hegelian theology, along with the critic Clement Greenberg (1909  -1994) shares some ideas on abstraction and the illusionism of 

the three-dimensional space, but opens a breach for expressive  signs within the formalistic concept. 

Renata Pelegrini from São Paulo who is only now, at the age of  49, feeling sufficiently comfortable to show her works, makes  use of expressive gestures to create her pictorial universe. Her  fast irreversible movements are linked to her great experience  with calligraphy, the area in which she began her artistic  education. She is a teacher and was raised in a family of  teachers. She has taken part in a number of salons in Brazil and  Italy, where she lived for a time. Her interest in calligraphy  led her to take part in courses in a number of countries (the  US, Italy, Switzerland) and this experience is present in the  canvases and drawings with the intervention of precise lines,  subordinating the pictorial execution to the formal calligraphic  planning.  

“Calligraphy is a monastic work that demands discipline and my  painting is fast with expressive gestures,” said the painter who  admits the “contradictions” resulting from her time that are  marked by imprecision and uncertainty. “I think of Rancière but  later on, after the painting is finished,” said Renata who had  lessons on art history from the art critic Rodrigo Naves and  received guidance from the painter Paulo Pasta.

She was born in São Paulo and graduated in Language Teaching.  She is also a translator and has a close link with the literary  world. She quotes the book “Agua Viva” (“Living Water”) by  Clarice Lispector to explain how she became a painter. In this  last text by Lispector, published just before her death in 1973,  the writer outlines an analogical relationship between writing  and painting, deconstructing the first so that it can be  reconstructed by the visual work. (It should not be forgotten  that Lispector was also a painter, although an average one.) The  theme of “Agua Viva” is the instant, the present. That is also  the theme of Renata Pelegrini´s work and this explains the  quickness of the expansive lines made with acrylic paint that  dries at an industrial speed. 

However, these paintings show her connection with the modernist  tradition, according to Taisa Palhares, the exhibition curator.  She singled out Matisse´s benchmark painting, “Porte-Fenêtre a  Collioure” (1914), which marked his first attempt to transfer  black into the equivalent of light. The painting, which shows  the door of his house in Collioure at the end of the summer of  1914, is a composition at the limit of abstraction, a register  of the dark times marked by the First World War. This is also  the color that predominates in Renata Pelegrini´s paintings and  interiors but, in her case, there is no metaphoric proposition  nor the illusionary space created by the Matisse door.

Her drawings, in charcoal, red chalk, graphite and chalk are  structured like an architectural composition in which the  external environment is contaminated by the internal, an aspect  that is more apparent in the paintings in which black has a  luminous element similar, to some extent, to Goeldi,  transforming recognizable places into abstractions with second  hand images. “I usually take images from the Internet or photos  of landscapes of places I have visited,” she said. However,  these are only pretexts for painting, she admits. 

Present. Renata Pelegrini (above) does not deny modernist links  but her works reflect the present moment  

Renata Pelegrini
Casa Contemporânea
Capitao Macedo, 370, 2337-3015. Tuesday to Friday, 14:00- 19:00; Saturday 11:00-17:00. Until 26/03/2016. Opens today (26),  19:00

Antonio Gonçalves Filho

Renata Pelegrini: drawing and painting

The book “Invisible Cities” by Italo Calvino recounts how the trader and ambassador Marco Polo told the powerful conqueror Kublai Khan about the cities he had passed through during his travels through Khan´s vast empire. Calvino presents descriptions of incredible cities made up of the most varied experiences, ranging from A Thousand and One Nights to the cinema, encompassing travels and real cities (as far as Venice can be real…) created in the words of Marco Polo and reconstructed by his listener, Kublai Khan.

The contemporary era in which we live does not seem to have a consensual co-existence with the more traditional languages of the visual arts, such as drawing and painting. Despite this, artists continue to choose them. Some produce works that are more assimilated, with one or other element that can provoke a certain estrangement in the viewer. These rely on parody or cynicism in terms of creating art and they are mainly visual works which grab the attention directly. Others make a choice although, in this case, it is less of a choice than an internal need or consistency in line with the way they think, through works that need more time to be assimilated, time that we no longer have.

This second group*, with its stronger commitment to production, is even respectful, mainly in relation to painting. There is a link, to a greater or lesser extent, between these artists to features which are usually described as modernism, such as a certain autonomy of the object of art and the presence of the creator but there is no epic or grandiose feeling. What we have is a realistic disenchantment that is typical of the present day.

When it comes to Renata Pelegrini´s works, we can also add a strong visceral element of expression. As a result, these works force the viewer to step back from the world so we can return to what belongs to us, to what forms us as experiences that have been undergone.

Painting is usually regarded as a more elaborate work than drawing, even by artists themselves. Drawing is often done on paper, as a support element, where it appears as a study or a sketch to be improved in the painting itself. This is not what happens in this production. There is autonomy between both languages. They feed each other and are equivalent when dealing with a chosen purpose, retaining the specific features belonging to each language.

The drawings and paintings are both difficult to classify. This is because, paradoxically, Renata´s approach is more linked to contemporary times in terms of the many influences and references she has. They range from Paulo Pasta to Iberê Camargo, De Kooning to Sean Scully, Richard Serra to Giacometti, Albert Oehlen to William Kentridge, Diebenkorn to Eduardo Stupia and Rosemarie Trockel to Julie Mehretu, without forgetting hermany literary references, the strongest of which is Fernando Pessoa. This diversity ends up leaving the works without an “anchor” for comparison in the eyes of the public. Moreover, Renata has chosen, or was led to choose a riskier approach from the main reason for her works which is the surrounding space, to a greater or lesser scale. This risk lies in the imprecision between what is recognizable and what is not.

In formal terms, elements appear both in the drawings and paintings that are closer to the modern lexicon but her particular approach updates them and adds a contemporary feel to the works.

The first element is the use of perspective but a perspective that only alludes to the correct or geometric perspective. The perspective either breaks itself down into various incongruous planes, questioning the flatness of the work or it contrasts itself with the established space through the use of color planes. This concept creates a dynamic situation that isstrengthened by the second element, i.e., the lines. However, these lines are not restrictive contour lines or limits. Nor are they used for perspective purposes. Their use in some works destabilizes the grouping. These are forceful lines, intense and open. Besides the formal aspects, there

is another that we can associate with phenomenology as well as memory: the “genius loci”. This term, taken from architecture, refers to the “spirit of the place” and is associated with the understanding of what is not visible in the spaces. Renata uses spaces in her production process that are altered to what can be called a place. It is these places, whether on a small close-up or large and distant scale, which she photographs when visiting them or through images from other eyes she recreates in her memory, impressions and experiences through contact with them.

Like Marco Polo, Renata Pelegrini describes her places and shares them with us. The origin of these places is specific but in the process of showing us what lies beyond the pillars, flagstones, courtyards, seas or landscapes, they become all the places and also none of them. They need to be reconstructed again by those who see them.

To paraphrase Calvino (or Marco Polo), both the artist and the viewer believe that drawings and paintings are works of the mind or chance, but neither of them can uphold pigments, lines, compositions placed on a two dimensional support. We do not benefit from the visible or understandable beauty of the works but the answers that are given to our questions. Or the questions they leave us with.

* This group is neither uniform nor small. It consists of young artists such as Andre Ricardo or Felipe Goes and others with longer experience such as Antônio Malta and Helena Carvalhosa.

Marcelo Salles