Archives 2nd half of 2013
Victoria Miro Gallery is delighted to present a new body of work by Adriana Varejão in her fourth solo presentation at the gallery. One of the most original voices in contemporary Brazilian art, Varejão's diverse practice comprises painting, sculpture, photography and installation. Her sources are many, encompassing baroque art, history, architectural ruins, natural sciences and theatre.
Exhibition 16 October -
© ArtCatalyse International / Marika Prévosto 2013. All Rights Reserved
Varejão has long been fascinated by themes of miscegenation and skin colour, and she explores these subjects in a fresh way in this new body of work. Polvo addresses the ambivalent notion of interracial identity in Brazil, where historically race has assumed a social and cultural function.
The official Brazilian census categorises people into five different groups according to their skin colour: white, black, red, yellow and brown. In 1976, however, a household survey conducted by the IBGE (Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics) posed the open question 'What is your colour?' The result was 135 distinct terms whose meanings are far more figurative than literal.
For Polvo, Varejão has created her own oil paints, named after thirty-
Varejão also presents an installation of eleven self-
The artist has created a brand Polvo (Octopus) and a logo for the paints featuring an octopus, a creature famous for using its ink in defense. Octopus ink contains melanin, the same substance that gives colour to human hair and skin.
The artist's initial inspiration for these works comes from casta painting, a seventeenth-
The casta system developed by colonial Spaniards helped establish and perpetuate a rigid hierarchical taxonomy based on notions of purity associated with whiteness. The concept was derived from the Latin castus, which literally means 'keep pure.' Using more than one hundred categories of racial intermixing, the casta system classified a broad spectrum of combinations of white, black, Indian and mixed-
With Polvo Varejão emphasises how colour acts as a language and lexicon. These works allow us to rethink our own systems of chromatic classification and the social processes that are expressed through them.
Adriana Varejåo, Polvo Oil Colors, 2013. Courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro, London. © Adriana Varejåo.