Victoria Miro

Adriana Varejão

06 Jun - 02 Aug 2014

© Adriana Varejão
Drosera (triptych), 2012
oil and plaster on canvas, three panels; 99 x 99 cm each, 39 x 39 in each
6 June - 2 August 2014

Victoria Miro Mayfair is delighted to present Carnivorous, Adriana Varejão's fifth solo presentation with Victoria Miro and her first in the Mayfair gallery. One of the most original voices in contemporary Brazilian art, Varejão's diverse practice comprises painting, sculpture, photography and installation. Her sources encompass the baroque, history, ceramics, botany and art history.

This presentation conceived especially for Victoria Miro Mayfair features single- and multiple-panel paintings of carnivorous plants depicted in a deep red on a cracked surface that recalls old tiles. The cracked tile has been a recurring motif in Varejão's work since early in her career, and in these works she draws particularly on the history of Portuguese Azulejo tilework and of Chinese celadon ceramics dating back to the 11th century Song dynasty.

Varejão depicts carnivorous plants from various origins, drawing her inspiration from a scientific Botany encyclopedia. These unusual flora combine an exotic, often suggestive beauty with an air of implicit menace. The sense of threat is heightened by the work's blood-red colouration. Varejão has explained that one of the reference points for this series was Louise Bourgeois' late red gouaches, some of which also feature botanical motifs. Like Bourgeois, Varejão has long explored the territory where desire and danger meet.

Varejão first depicted carnivorous plants in red on a white background in a series of paintings made for the ceiling of a corridor of her artist's pavilion at the Centro de Arte Contemporânea Inhotim in her native Brazil. The pavilion features a large installation of blue-on-white cracked tile paintings featuring baroque motifs that suggest aquatic themes, with the red corridor providing a contrast in colour and mood.

Varejão extended her investigation of the red plants in a series of works, including the paintings in this exhibition, that were first shown in 2012 as part of a 57-painting installation produced for her retrospective exhibition Histories at the Margins curated by Adriano Pedrosa at the Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo.

The plants are painted in oil on canvases covered with underlays of plaster, the surfaces of which are explicitly designed to fissure and fracture. This technique produces surfaces that, in addition to their resonances with chinese Song ceramic, suggests the passage of time and instability.

Tags: Louise Bourgeois, Adriana Varejão