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Janaina Tschäpe's sixth exhibition in Sao Paulo on view at Galeria Fortes Vilaça
Janaina Tschäpe, Pássaro que me engoliu. Exhibition view at Galeria Fortes Vilaça, 2016. Photo: Eduardo Ortega / Courtesy Galeria Fortes Vilaça.

SAO PAULO.- Fortes Vilaça presents Pássaro que me engoliu [Bird That Swallowed Me], Janaina Tschäpe’s sixth exhibition in São Paulo, which will simultaneously occupy the exhibition spaces of the Galeria and the Galpão. The German-Brazilian artist, based in New York for the last 18 years, is presenting a new body of work that encompasses paintings, photographs and works on paper.

The featured works are imprinted with the hallmarks of her research, such as the intense gestural repertoire of her painting process and the recurring sculptural composition of the forms that inhabit her photographs. The result is the emergence of a special mythology that intersperses the presence of fantastical characters with a richly pictorial atmospheric ambience of an inner nature. Tschäpe’s oeuvre forges original narratives as it concertedly evokes formal references to art history.

The seven photographs presented at the Galeria make up the series Dormant, created in 2015 during an artist’s residency carried out in the seas of Oceania, via TBA21 (Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary). They are images of aquatic creatures, analogous to the artist’s recurrent practice of creating a surreal female body. Here, slender, elongated and ambiguous beings float in the vast liquid element of the ocean. The artist makes reference to the immortal species of jellyfish Turritopsis nutricula that has the remarkable ability to rejuvenate itself, or restore its cells, in times of crisis or danger, alluding to the idea of regeneration and reproduction, through the repetition of certain sharp-edged shapes and fibrous elements in the constitution of these amphibian bodies. The result is an array of images that operate between the objective and the subjective, between theatricality and nature.

As in her photographs, the paintings presented at the Galpão make use of liquid elements to engage in the free and almost uncontrollable gestural movement, represented here by the fluidity of the paint on the canvas. The evocative titles – Your Ghost in Me, Treffen Im Wald [Meeting in the Forest] – reveal that the artist’s visual and affective memory is the primary force which propels the composition of the paintings. With resonances that stem from German Romanticism to Abstract Expressionism, from Fauvism to Modernism, this morphing process unfolds into a surprising compositional maturity and an audacious chromatic variation that the artist masterfully commands. The visceral and passionate expressiveness of the gesture gains substance with a palette of strong, vivid colors, counterbalanced by lighter tones, and by the superposition of rhythmic lines drawn over the brushstrokes.

In Fruta (Früchte Tragen) [Fruit (Früchte Tragen)], the largest painting in the show, Tschäpe employs contrasting hues of red and blue intermingled with lithe, fluid pencil drawings, which at times evoke aquatic plants or foliage. At the same time, the painting that lends its title to the exhibition, Pássaro (Der Mich Aufgefressen Hat) [Bird (Der Mich Aufgefressen Hat)], is charged with a frenetic exoticism, yet combined with something natural.

Janaina Tschäpe was born in Munich, Germany, in 1973. She lives and works in New York. Her recent solo shows include: Floating Words, Museum of Contemporary Art Tucson (USA, 2014); Kasama Nichido Museum of Art (Kasama, Japan, 2009); Chimera, Irish Museum of Modern Art (Dublin, Ireland, 2008). Her work can be found in several important collections, such as 21st Century Museum of Contemporary of Art (Kanazawa, Japan), Centre Pompidou (Paris, France), Inhotim (Brumadinho, Brazil), MAM Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Moderna Museet (Stockholm, Sweden), Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía (Madrid, Spain), Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (New York, USA), TBA21 (Vienna, Austria), among others.

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