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“Tudo é e não é”. Everything is and is not - referencing a phrase by Brazilian novelist João Guimarães Rosa. It has just ended (24th April 2021), at the Pace Gallery, the first solo exhibition in New York City of São Paulo-based artist Marina Perez Simão’s. Welcomed with great flourish, Perez Simão’s debut traces a trajectory, abstract yet indelible, through the mystery of the unknown, bringing to light the sensation of surprise and freedom, discovering new territories in the painting practice.

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Growing up between Minas Gerais, a large state in Brazil known for minerals and mountains, and magnificent Rio de Janeiro, Marina Perez Simão (b. 1981, Vitória, Brazil) has been deeply influenced by the very imposing natural landscapes of these two places, where the forest and marine ecosystems are completely grafted onto the urban habitats.

 

Marina Perez Simão, Untitled, 2021, oil on canvas, 67” × 53-1/2" (170.2 cm × 135.9 cm), Courtesy Pace Gallery, New York, © Marina Perez Simão.

 

During the year of pandemic isolation, Simão created, in her “dark” apartment, a new series of luminous, brightly colored and palpable oil paintings, working with them simultaneously. The sea, the horizon, the vastness, the light: through her painting Simão “sought what she was missing in the isolation of lockdown a sort of compensation process”. Little by little, Simão infused her paintings with watercolors, and even before she had sketched delicate drawings - traces of rhythm, as she called them - in a notebook. Thin lines, with some hints of color, that barely reveal the shapes of the natural world. A “magma” where the day is scarcely distinguished from the night. 

 

Marina Perez Simão, Untitled, 2021, oil on canvas, 23-3/4” × 19-7/8" (60.3 cm × 50.5 cm), Courtesy Pace Gallery, New York, © Marina Perez Simão.

 

What exactly are we looking at when we immerse ourselves in Simão’s sinuous lines and irregular pattern of surreal colors? These are ambiguous, metaphysical images created to trick human perception, to go even further; a kind of corrugated ambivalence between what happens on the surface and in the background; the poignant memory combined with the simultaneity of the absolute “here and now”. 

I think this small dose of incomprehension has poetic, creative potential”, Simão affirms.

 

Marina Perez Simão, Untitled, 2021, watercolor on paper, 16-1/2” × 11-3/4" (41.9 cm × 29.8 cm), Courtesy Pace Gallery, New York, © Marina Perez Simão.

 

Influenced by painters such as Tarsila do Amaral, Agnes Pelton, and Luchita Hurtado, the ongoing research, that accompanies Simão, has always been shaped by the understanding of nature as a force to be revered, through the combination of personal memories and intellectual references, different mediums that cohabitate in the space of the canvas. Fluidity and ambivalence create a sort of narrative marked by the transition between one element and the other. By subverting the landscape’s elements- fluid or solid, warm or cold, earthly or from other worlds - and by layering rich hues of contrasting color, Simão investigates light’s shifting temperament that undo to recreate new worlds onto themselves. Landscapes of strong temperaments that emerge from dreams and imaginary, different possibilities that hold a promise of construction. As Marina Perez Simão reveals: “Mine is as an attempt to go somewhere that I’ve never been before, but at the same time that is familiar.

 

Marina Perez Simão, Untitled, 2020, oil on canvas, 26” × 37-1/4" (66 cm × 94.5 cm), Courtesy Pace Gallery, New York, © Marina Perez Simão.

 

Marina Perez Simão, Untitled, 2020, oil on canvas, 19-3/4" × 15-3/4" (50 cm × 40 cm) Courtesy Pace Gallery, New York, © Marina Perez Simão.

 

Cover image: Marina Perez Simão, Untitled, 2021, oil on canvas, 78-5/8” × 97" (199.7 cm × 246.4 cm), Courtesy Pace Gallery, New York, © Marina Perez Simão.

Written by Petra Chiodi

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