LETTER TO THE SPECTERSBy Leandro Muniz
For some time now, I have been following with interest the description of artificial lights in Letícia Lopes' paintings. In predominantly night scenes, these artworks are first constructed by layers of light colors — a palette in which the crossing of acidic tones and other pastels generates a vibration similar to that of fluorescent lamps — and then covered by deep blues or greens, but especially by black. The artworks are based on photographs, and the spectral image resulting from this pictorial procedure suggests a world of phantasmagoria that multiply and are transferred from one materiality to another.
In addition to reflecting on the image itself as a ghost, with its presence dynamics, absence and return, these artworks inspire thought about what happens in the dark and whose effects are indirectly perceived. There is something of terror and the creation of a tormented psychic atmosphere seems to have been the outlet found by the artist to comment on the generalized social horror.
In several artworks, Lopes represents chandeliers, landscapes with few events and human figures that we do not know if are dead or if they are sculptures. In others, animal skins or hunting scenes are constructed so that prey and predator merge into a single shape. These are themes that seem to belong to another time — suspended, imaginary — and the mystery of these paintings is clearly mediated by the codes of cinema, its framing, textures and titles. The figures “bleed” the painting, the painting reproduces the light from the flash and the counterplongée reiterates the tension between haunting and surveillance.
From the artist's biography, it is worth noting that she was born in the interior of Rio Grande do Sul in 1988 and that she kept up with the underground scene in Porto Alegre in the late 2000s. The variation between dissonant contrasts and tonal passages, melancholic lyrics and lysergies os the music from a Júpiter Maçã, for example, find their respective counterparts in Lopes' work, generating a virtual dialogue between these productions.
In other artworks, the artist modifies digital photographs in order to reproduce the same characteristics of her painting, such as harsh light and the sensation of vibration. From her initial production with collage, the abrupt cut between light and dark areas or the use of high-circulation images remains.
The transposition to painting, in addition to a temporal difference between the snapshot and the manual, implies critical reflection on these materialities and languages: the elasticity of oil paint, its possibilities of dissolution, transparency and opacity, allows the description of surfaces as diverse as the furs and glass and, live, Lopes' paintings operate through sophisticated inversions between areas with a lot of material and thin coverages that do not always correspond to the sensation of distance and proximity.
Dealing with painting is also linked to the singularization of the image. The scale of these artworks and the variation between analytical and arbitrary brushstrokes evoke the desire for the specificity of this language and the haunted imagery, marked by the presence of ghosts and undead figures that indicate a dose of irony, contrast with the vitality index of the pictorial gesture. If Letícia Lopes' paintings show a generalized melancholy, they also put us in a state of alert.