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Solilóquio, Mariana Gomes at the Cristina Guerra Contemporary Art

Mariana Gomes has been one of the Portuguese painters with the most exciting work. The humorous (and constant) fluctuations between figuration and abstraction, through drawing or three-dimensional modelling, always lead us to the central subject of her work: making something out of painting.

Perhaps this is the origin of the idea of monologue suggested in the title of her first solo exhibition at the Cristina Guerra gallery. In the various canvases, the artist uses the infinite and internal “conversations” she has in her studio, with herself and with others (painters and paintings), in a scathing connection with the history of art, while at the same time challenging tradition. M. Gomes prefers the exercise; the daily practice of painting and the dichotomous condition of trial-error, which becomes even more evident when the objective is neither to thematize nor politicize the figure, the matter or the randomness. And the history of painting – contrary to what is proposed by academies and compendiums – has never been linear. It is indivisible from error, from failed attempts that suggest deviant and surprising paths, indicated by more or less fortuitous visual stimuli, throughout the process of making.

Gomes’ painting happens through these stimuli which, coming from the painting or the factual world, originate unusual crossings, often humorous, with several references. The abstraction looks like things and the figuration looks like almost nothing; the celestial blue enclosed in an intestinal frame, where faeces-shaped forms are orbiting; or the small canvas that, despite the small blue, orange and brown stains, wants to be a portrait.

The constant mechanisms of provocation in the work of M. Gomes – explored in the recent exhibition Canhota, at the Fundação Carmona e Costa – put us in a state of alert for each painting and stain. Tiepolo is mentioned in the text of this exhibition, but with regard to the panel of paintings on the gallery’s roof, Michael Biberstein could also be mentioned, especially when it comes to the roof of the Church of Santa Isabel.

Despite the vibrant colours and shaking shapes/stains, these paintings are not innocent. They are cunning. They are living, self-sufficient organisms, capable of determining their own completeness, with more or less saturation of spots and matter. But, in Solilóquio, they seem less sharp and better behaved; the destruction of patterns, geometry and figuration allows the softening of these somewhat bucolic shapes. They are landscape-shapes, filled with spots and other small figures, with connections to Jorge Queiroz’s painting.

Mariana Gomes is a changing painter who, despite several years of consistent work, seeks new stimuli that result in a heterogeneous and diverse production.

Until 7 March, at the Cristina Guerra Contemporary Art gallery.

Francisco Correia (b. 1996) lives and works in Lisbon. He studied Painting at Faculdade de Belas-Artes at Universidade de Lisboa and finished the post-graduation on Art Curatorship at Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas at Universidade Nova de Lisboa. He has been writing for and about exhibitions, while simultaneously developing his artistic project.

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