A gloomy landscape lost in space and time, where human figures walk on a lawn with trees in the background, lies below. Overhead, the sky occupies nearly the entirety of the image, full of gray clouds about to shed its rainfall on the landscape. A slight shift in viewing perspective reveals a dense mass in shades of pink that disappears as quickly as it emerges. After a few minutes of this optical-visceral dance, a deep sigh runs through my body.
The artwork, which achieves this effect via reticulation, is part of the sixth solo show of the artist Marina Saleme at Galeria Luisa Strina, a body of work that combines photography and painting in vigorous arrangements. The exhibition, “O Céu Que Nos Protege” (The Sheltering Sky), springing from the research that the artist, born in 1958, has been developing for more than twenty years, borrows its title from the 1990 Bernardo Bertolucci film based on the Paul Bowles novel of the same name. Like the film, Saleme’s work at first snatches our gaze with its plasticity and then—as we dip into her pictorial constructions—submerges us into the recesses of our feelings.
The sky, as the title announces, is the great protagonist and appears to act as a manifestation of desires and the unknown that hover over our existence. “What is in the sky one day must fall” is what my grandmother always said every time I dared to show some anxiety about the future. The statement surfaces in my memory whenever I look into the golden, sanguine, romantic and dark skies that sometimes seem to foreshadow misfortunes, sometimes blessings, that will inevitably spill, drain and fall upon us.
The poetic dance between photography and painting also promotes crossovers between objective and passionate, visible and invisible, contained and leaked. The pictorial constructions are made in layers and presented either as ink overlays—revealing the spaces of time between colors—or as photographs guarding pictorial masses, in an exercise of rescue and dissolution.
Saleme’s work is layered in perceptions of color, depth and time. Just like the characters in the Bertolucci film clashed with themselves under the sun of the Sahara desert, we are also driven, confronted by the artist’s visceral skies, to let us go with this vital force that, in a natural and sensual manner, seems to pour from the border of the canvas to the edge of the unknown.
“O Céu Que Nos Protege” (The Sheltering Sky)
Galeria Luisa Strina
Through March 26, 2016