"Natureza morta vermelha" (2017), Ana Elisa Egreja (Foto: Galeria Leme)
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Art and domestic environment

Felipe Molitor
26 Mar 2020, 6:57 pm

The quarantine caused by the pandemic puts society under an unprecedented regime of paradoxes. Social distance unites us, public space and exchanges must happen as virtually as possible and we no longer touch the people we love. As a common denominator, the main effect of the sudden change in daily life is confinement to the home environment. Our home is now the main stage for practically all day and night activities, and the uncertain prospects for the end of the seclusion period invite us to review habits and discover new vocations.

The home is, par excellence, the privileged place of intimacy and coexistence with those closest to you. Homes are small museums of personal stories, which hold all kinds of objects and architectures full of unprecedented memories. There are homes that are a prison, homes that are only temporary, and homes that give a sense of freedom that only absolute privacy allows. The lingering atmosphere of the quarantine also questions us about the perception of time spent at home: what do we do in our spare time if we dream so much about free time?

These reflections could be drawn from the works by Valeska Soares, Alair Gomes, Ana Elisa Egreja, Leticia Parente and Anna Maria Maiolino, artists for whom the domestic universe is an important influence for artistic practice, under different forms and pretexts. Within this selection, poetics and personal trajectories are blurred, and the home now appears as a concept, origin or as the only means of creation. Especially because, regardless of the language, it is not only in the studios that the experience of art is born and takes place.

Above: "Natureza morta vermelha" [Red Still Life] (2017), Ana Elisa Egreja (Photo: Galeria Leme)

Since the late 1980s, Valeska Soares has worked between sculpture, object and installation. Her works are like a magic trick cast on fragments of ordinary objects, evoking the memories and desires of familiar materials such as carpets, bottles, packaging and furniture.

"Unhinged" (2017), Valeska Soares (Foto: Divulgação)

"Unhinged" (2017), Valeska Soares (Photo: Valeska Soares)

"Sugar Blues III" (2008), Valeska Soares (Foto: Divulgação)

"Sugar Blues III" (2008), Valeska Soares (Photo: Valeska Soares)

The artist creates insinuating situations from a repertoire that is at once extravagant and trivial, manipulating details such as the opacity and brightness of the pieces, making subtractions and leaving what can invite other senses, such as smell and touch, to participate.

"Lugar comum" (2016), Valeska Soares (Foto: Divulgação)
"Kiss (Given the Right Conditions)" (2000), Valeska Soares (Foto: divulgação)

"Lugar comum" [Common Place] (2016), Valeska Soares (Photo: Valeska Soares)

"Kiss (Given the Right Conditions)" (2000), Valeska Soares

(Photo: publicity)

"Ground III" (2016), Valeska Soares (Foto: Divulgação)

"Ground III" (2016), Valeska Soares (Photo: Valeska Soares)

Melancholic and passionate, dark and funny, Valeska Soares’ works for instance recall conceptually, without any disqualification, trinkets – that old word for objects that have no time or specific place to adorn, but that acquire feelings and fascinations of times gone by.

"Epilogue" (2019), Valeska Soares (Foto: Divulgação)

"Epilogue" (2019), Valeska Soares (Photo: Valeska Soares)

"Doubleface Cadmium (Red Deep/Wam Grey)" (2019), Valeska Soares (Foto: Divulgação)

"Doubleface Cadmium (Red Deep/Wam Grey)" (2019), Valeska Soares (Photo: Valeska Soares)

From the window of his house, Alair Gomes could see a stretch of Ipanema beach, in Rio de Janeiro. From that crack, he photographed young boys exercising, talking or just passing through the idyllic landscape, revealing the sensuality and eroticism of the male body. With this practice, the artist radicalized the maxim that says that every photographer is, in some instance, a type of voyeur.

Série "Sonatinas, Four Feet" (1975-1980), Alair Gomes (Foto: Divulgação)

Series "Sonatinas, Four Feet" (1975-1980), Alair Gomes (Photo: Alair Gomes)

Série "Sonatinas, Four Feet" (1975-1980), Alair Gomes (Foto: Divulgação)

Series "Sonatinas, Four Feet" (1975-1980), Alair Gomes (Photo: Alair Gomes)

Sometimes, the photographer would go down to the sidewalk and seashore to convince some of the clicked subjects for a more intimate shoot. Again, then, the house was the fundamental place for Gomes’ artistic practice. It was the end of the 1970s, and the fusion of art and life proved to be a path that many artists were willing to venture in.

Série "Beach Triptych" (1980), Alair Gomes (Foto: Divulgação)

Series "Beach Triptych" (1980), Alair Gomes (Photo: Alair Gomes)

Alair Gomes was an excellent researcher in the history of classical art, and he did not dismiss the balance between light and shadow, the tension in the forms and the calculated composition of his images, which were often presented sequentially. Amid lasciviousness and rigor, Gomes left a great contribution to photography.

Série "The Course of the Sun" (1967-1974), Alair Gomes (Foto: Divulgação)
Série "The Course of the Sun" (1967-1974), Alair Gomes (Foto: divulgação)

Series "The Course of the Sun" (1967-1974), Alair Gomes (Photo: Alair Gomes)

Series "The Course of the Sun" (1967-1974), Alair Gomes

(Photo: publicity)

In Ana Elisa Egreja’s paintings, instead of characters, environments are the real protagonists. The realism of the works is highlighted by the highly detailed style and the abundance of colors, textures and patterns of each framed interior view.

"Corredor com ratos" (2017), Ana Elisa Egreja (Foto: Divulgação)

"Corredor com ratos" [Corridor With Rats] (2017), Ana Elisa Egreja (Photo: Ana Elisa Egreja)

"Pink room" (2019), Ana Elisa Egreja (Foto: Filipe Berndt/Galeria Leme)

"Pink room" (2019), Ana Elisa Egreja (Photo: Filipe Berndt/Galeria Leme)

At the beginning of her career, Egreja invented her domestic landscapes based on the search for images of banal objects from old houses, taking precise technique and subjectivity as the affective compound of the composition. In more recent series, the artist explores scenic organization and photography, and then transports the constructed image to the temporality of painting.

"Banheiro amarelo (Casa Campo Verde Rino Levi)" (2018), Ana Elisa Egreja (Foto: Galeria Leme)
"Pia e salamandra" (2013), Ana Elisa Egreja (Foto: divulgação)

"Banheiro amarelo (Casa Campo Verde Rino Levi)" [Yellow Bathroom (Rino Levi Country House) (2018), Ana Elisa Egreja (Photo: Galeria Leme)

"Pia e salamandra" [Sink and Salamander] (2013), Ana Elisa Egreja

(Photo: publicity)

The works reveal fantastic and nostalgic narratives based on the minutiae and details of the vernacular environments, which extract from the superficial and kitsch other emotional and symbolic recordings.

"Janela da Bienal com vista para o Rio" (2014), Ana Elisa Egreja (Foto: Filipe Berndt/Galeria Leme)

"Janela da Bienal com vista para o Rio" [Bienal Window With a View on Rio] (2014), Ana Elisa Egreja (Photo: Filipe Berndt/Galeria Leme)

"Copa" (2017), Ana Elisa Egreja (Foto: Divulgação)

"Copa" [Kitchen] (2017), Ana Elisa Egreja (Photo: Ana Elisa Egreja)

Letícia Parente was one of the pioneers in the use of audiovisual as a language for the visual arts. Between the 1970s and 1980s, the artist produced works in which she put herself in front of the camera in short and powerful actions, which did not hide the homemade and visceral nature of these productions.

"Marca registrada" [Trademark] (1975)

(Courtesy of Galeria Jaqueline Martins)

Letícia Parente — Marca Registrada (1975)
"In" (1975)

(Courtesy of Galeria Jaqueline Martins)

Letícia Parente — In (1975)

Laboratory, studio and home are interchangeable places for Letícia Parente, who was also a PhD professor in chemistry. Procedures of repetition, classification, experimentation and taxonomy intersect her crafts, in addition to the interest in media until then unheard of and at odds with art.

"Eu armário de mim" [ I Closet of Myself] (1975)

(Courtesy of Galeria Jaqueline Martins)

Letícia Parente — Eu armário de mim (1975)
"Preparação I", 1975

(Courtesy of Galeria Jaqueline Martins)

Letícia Parente - Preparação I (1975)

Her pieces also discuss the condition of women in domestic work, artistic and scientific tasks, combining issues around conceptual art, body arts and social and political criticism at the same time.

"Tarefa I" [Task I] (1982)

(Courtesy of Galeria Jaqueline Martins)

Letícia Parente — Tarefa I (1982)

Anna Maria Maiolino’s poetics reflects the cycles of a life made of impermanences and reminiscences. In her works, as well as the body, the house becomes a living being, which survives from cultural and symbolic exchanges that demand care and support.

"Glu... glu... glu..." (1967), Anna Maria Maiolino (Foto: Divulgação)
Anna Maria Maiolino montando "Monumento à fome" (1978) (Foto: Acervo da artista / Frieze Magazine)

"Glu... glu... glu..." (1967), Anna Maria Maiolino (Photo: Anna Maria Maiolino)

Anna Maria Maiolino installing "Monumento à fome" [Monument to Hunger] (1978) (Photo: Artist's estate / Frieze Magazine)

Her works transmute food and the act of eating in a political position, and address the bonds that unite family and social relationships. With simplicity, Maiolino sews ideas around the communion between people, the common space and the intangible links that determine our place.

"Arroz e feijão" (1979), Anna Maria Maiolino (Foto: Divulgação)

"Arroz e feijão" [Rice and Beans] (1979), Anna Maria Maiolino (Photo: Anna Maria Maiolino)

Série "Vida afora, fotopoemação" (1981), Anna Maria Maiolino (Foto: Divulgação)

Série "Vida afora, fotopoemação" [Life Outside, Photopoemaction] (1981), Anna Maria Maiolino (Photo: Anna Maria Maiolino)

The artist experimented with different languages throughout her career, from printmaking to video, drawing to photography, being a very active figure in different phases of the recent history of Brazilian art. In the last few decades, she has dedicated herself especially to what her hands can manipulate: gesture is the vehicle of affection.

Registro da instalação "Aqui e ali" na Documenta 13, em Kassel (Foto: Galeria Luisa Strina)

Photo of the installation "Aqui e ali" [Here and There] at the 13th Documenta, in Kassel (Photo: Galeria Luisa Strina)

"Por um fio" (1976), Anna Maria Maiolino, da série "Fotopoemação" (Foto: Regina Vater / Divulgação)

"Por um fio" [By a Thread] (1976), Anna Maria Maiolino, from the series "Fotopoemação" [Photopoemaction] (Photo: Regina Vater)


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Felipe Molitor is a journalist and art critic, part of the editorial team at SP-Arte.

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