Adriana VarejÃ£o fill the Lower Gallery with a monumental wall based installation, Macau Wall. VarejÃ£o's recent painting evoke the traditions of Minimalism or monochrome painting. The rich Baroque imagery of her earlier work replicated techniques for making such things as porcelain, tiles and tattoos, all of which were imported to Brazil from other cultures. Bettina von Zwehl is exhibiting her new body of work Profiles which is inspired by the diptych of Battista Sforza and Federigo da Montefeltro, c.1470, by Piero della Francesca. Fourteen people are photographed in strict symmetrical profile.
Adriana VarejÃ£o - Upper and Lower Galleries
Bettina von Zwehl - Project Space
The Victoria Miro Gallery presents Brazilian artist Adriana VarejÃ£o's first solo exhibition in London.
VarejÃ£o will fill the Lower Gallery with a monumental wall based installation, Macau Wall, while the Upper Gallery will house new individual floor and wall based work. The fine colour gradations that enliven the apparent chromatic uniformity of VarejÃ£o's recent painting evoke the traditions of Minimalism or monochrome painting. However, her work is not a strict exercise in abstract painting, but rather a representation of a surface clad in tiles.
Throughout her work VarejÃ£o has pursued a common pattern of research, examining the complex history of Brazil. The rich Baroque imagery of her earlier work replicated techniques for making such things as porcelain, tiles and tattoos, all of which were imported to Brazil from other cultures. VarejÃ£o is also fascinated by old methods of medical treatment and often in her work the canvas ruptures or is cut to expose a bodily interior of fleshy sculptural elements.
"My fiction does not belong to any time or place, instead it is characterized by themes dealing with rupture and discontinuity. These are stories about the body, about medicine, about painting, about Brazil, about tattoos, about Ming, Song or Iznik ceramics, about old tiles, either Portuguese or Delft, and also about modern and ordinary tiles, about maps, books, lacquers. Everything is contaminated. In my work, the formation of Brazilian culture from the colonial period onwards is used as a metaphor for the modern world. The works included in the "jerked-beef" series are like contemporary ruins, canvases of wall and rubble that end up losing their stony, insensitive, hard and inhuman nature and become flesh".
Born in 1964 in Rio de Janeiro, where she lives and works, Adriana VarejÃ£o is one of Brazil's leading contemporary artists. Her work is collected by amongst others the Tate Gallery, London and she is currently showing at the Guggenheim Museum, New York in the exhibition Brazil: Body & Soul. In June 2002 she will exhibit her monumental wall installation AzulejÃµes at the new MoMA in Queens, New York. VarejÃ£o has exhibited widely internationally, including in 2000, the Biennale of Sydney; Ultrabaroque at the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, and at the Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid; other exhibitions have included the first Liverpool Biennial of Contemporary Art at the Tate Gallery, Liverpool (1999) and the 24th SÃ£o Paolo Biennial, Brazil (1998). She has also had solo exhibitions at Bildmuseet, Umea, Sweden (2000) and the Instituto de Arte Contemporanea, Lisbon (1998).
Bettina von Zwehl - Project Space
German born, London based artist Bettina von Zwehl is exhibiting her new body of work Profiles, 2001, which is inspired by the diptych of Battista Sforza and Federigo da Montefeltro,c.1470, by Piero della Francesca.
Against a neutral background fourteen people are photographed in strict symmetrical profile. The individual portraits are then divided into seven pairs, and hung face to face, appearing to be, in some sense, coupled. The original scale of each figure has been adjusted - sized up or down - so that image to image, a consistent eye level is maintained that stretches through the series like an artificial horizon. The profiles present to the viewer a map of the contours of a face - silhouette, jaw, hairline - while the transient characteristics of gaze and expression, remain obscured. This adamant objectivity denies one of the most central characteristics of portrait photography - the illusion that something of the sitter - beyond their physicality - is revealed through the act of portraiture.
"These couples are linked by their stare - by a gaze that is fixed, reciprocated, unsentimental, and one that the viewer will always be, necessarily be, excluded from. They seem to be looking at each other, yet equally, they seem to be looking into nothing, as if they are looking, but they are not seeing."
As in previous work the images depict the sitter's upper body in matching t-shirts against a neutral background. The singular focus of the camera and the restricted conditions are reminiscent of the aesthetics of scientific experiment. In her earlier work von Zwehl documented her subjects in various constructed and extreme environments (hot, breathless and deprived of sleep) of the body. Minimal and elegant, her sitters merge with their surroundings exuding the subtlest of psychological and physical response. But despite their forensic overtones, von Zwehl's work is fundamentally concerned with both the relationship and expectations inherent in the act of portraiture.
Born in 1971 von Zwehl graduated from the Royal College of Art in 1999. Exhibitions include, Chelsea Rising, The Contemporary Art Center, New Orleans, 2001, Breathless! Photography and Time at the Victoria and Albert Museum, 2000 and Modern Times, Hasselblad Centre, GÃ¶teborg, Sweden, 1999.
Image: Adriana VarejÃ£o
Solo shows in 2002 for Doug Aitken, Peter Doig, Inka Essenhigh, Chantal Joffe, Chris Ofili and Stephen Willats
Victoria Miro Gallery 16 Wharf Road London N1 7RW
Opening hours: Tuesday - Saturday 10am - 6.00pm