The perceptually arresting oeuvre of Brazilian art’s grand dame Regina Silveira opened the new Paço das Artes museum with the solo exhibition “Limiares” (Threshold), curated by the institution’s director, Priscila Arantes. On view are the video-installations “Limiar” and “Lunar,” the outdoor sculpture “Dobras” and the installation “Cascata,” these two specially produced for the show. After fifty years of roaming around, the Paço, as it is frequently referred to, finally inaugurated permanent headquarters on the 466th anniversary of the city of São Paulo last January 25, in a turn-of-the-nineteenth-century eclectic French-style mansion in the leafy neighborhood of Higienópolis. To contribute to the institution’s collection, Silveira donated five video works.
However familiar Silveira’s visually intriguing research-driven projects may seem, the eighty-year-old artist has proven that constant reinvention is a mark of her singular career. Always giving something new, from November 2019 to February at Luciana Brito Galeria she mounted the solo exhibition simply dubbed “Coisas” (Things). Instead of toying with grand surfaces such as an architectural façade or interior—as she does now with the scattered windows of the 180-square-meter occupation of the Cascata installation in the main exhibition hall of the new Paço Imperial—the gallery exhibition addressed the issue of female domesticity, on unique editions of her famous black optical design this time splattered over white china dishware and translucent glass goblets that are objet d’art not fit to be used as mere tableware, as she pointed out.
In September, the artist will be celebrated in a long-duration exhibition at the MAC-USP museum (Museu de Arte Contemporânea da Universidade de São Paulo), as part of this year’s program of the thirty-fourth São Paulo Bienal.
Regina, you have become one of the most influential Latin American artists. What is the lesson you take from your long trajectory?
There is no magic nor secret, only daily hard work, mental exercise to keep curiosity alive and being well aware that you don’t move forward without risk.
Your works with shadow occupy large dimensions in interiors and grand architectural façades; however, you also transported the narrative to a domestic medium, tableware plates and glasses, as seen at your recent exhibition at Luciana Brito Galeria. Tell us about the challenge in this new media.
In truth, my narrative of the axis of light/shadow is not present in the porcelain and glass series. I understand the narrative of my large-format work is in the mind of those who know my work, but in that exhibition there was no discussion on scale. The porcelain on view at the gallery are not new works, I have been developing this work for decades at the same time I’ve been working on other projects with different size media and large urban interventions. What relates the porcelain to my work is the poetics, and in certain cases, the same graphic motif applied to different prints, installations, façades and architecture. A simple technical explanation for this is a good image can be applied to any dimension.
So what is your relation to the domestic universe?
None whatsoever! On the contrary, my domesticity relates only to the context of the images and objects that I appropriate in order to invert their original meaning. My preferred poetic operation has always been to work on unfamiliar signifiers with resources such as substitution and absence. The porcelain show was an acid criticism of the domestic universe, traditionally a woman’s world. Technically speaking, this porcelain cannot be used as dishware because the ceramic has not been baked, the work has been only glued on them. Only one functions as a real dish, “Assombrada,” a tureen with black overglaze coating of the silhouette of my hand. I had it made in 2013 during a residency at Bordallo Pinheiro, a well-known ceramics manufacturer from Portugal.
Last October, another of your permanent public works opened, “Glossário (Rainbow),” a two-hundred-meter-long walkway at the façade of the Shopping Cidade Jardim mall. Tell us about it.
This walkway is a permanent public artwork on loan by the MuBE museum. It is based on my narrative of light, both as phenomenon and word. It was specifically designed for this architectural environment as a long, glass walkway at the mall’s façade. Rainbow is a deliberate search for enlightenment. The first version of Rainbow started with the first Glossário (Glossary series) I made in 2010 for the Paulo Vasconcelos Hospital in São Paulo. The following year, I designed the next version for the Lasar Segall Museum, which is related to the Glossary with metallic structure I designed in collaboration with architect Álvaro Razuk for Toronto’s Luminato Festival in 2015.
What is there still to discover in your oeuvre?
My responsibility as the author is to always create new relations in my work. However, the discovery of these meanings is shared with the viewer and, as such, belongs to the realm of the interpretation, which in turn depends on the degree the viewer is touched or affected by the work.
Regina Silveira: Limiares (Threshold)
Through May 10, 2020
Curated by Priscila Arantes
Paço das Artes, São Paulo
Rio-born Cynthia Garcia is a respected art historian, art critic and journalist fluent in five languages stationed in São Paulo. Cynthia is a recipient of the 2023 APCA (Paulista Association of Art Critics) award as a contributing editor of Newcity Brazil since its founding in 2015. Her daughter America Cavaliere works in the contemporary art market and her son Pedro Cavaliere, based in LA, is in the international DJ scene.
Contact: [email protected], www.cynthiagarcia.biz