Press Release of the Exhibition
Lucia Laguna (1941) presents “Outras Paisagens” (Other Landscapes), her first exhibition at Cristina Guerra Contemporary Art, in Lisbon.
Painting is the center of her artistic production; a work to which she is exclusively dedicated, almost compulsively focusing all her energies on it. Laguna’s practice also includes the observation and study of classical and contemporary painters whose work she is particularly interested in. However, and in the context of her work process, her interest in these authors does not imply the necessity to quote them as visible stylistic references. In a way, it is as if they were another part of her aesthetic and pictorial universe, as they represent a lineage of painters who are considered, integrated, and continued by Lucia Laguna.
The title of the exhibition—“Outras Paisagens”—indicates a range of possibilities of a painting genre that, despite its classical filiation, finds in the work by Lucia Laguna a derive from the canonical categorization it is inscribed in. The artist first approaches the model, the objects, or the views/landscapes she uses to intuitively start a canvas. However, her process is more complex. The paintings are initiated by her assistants, who introduce painted images and motifs on a preexisting geography, over which the artist will afterwards develop the work. From what we can see, be it peeking through her studio’s window, inside it, or peering through the first layers of paint containing tentative representations, the artist reacts using an analytical procedure, using masking tape to isolate colored areas or structural elements that may remain hidden until the artist decides to reveal these previous pictorial events, confronting new relations occurring within the canvas surface. This process can be repeated whenever the artist has the need to understand—in the space of her medium—the diverse stages of the composition’s structure, which may seem chaotic to the gaze of a less attentive observer.
Time is an essential category of her procedures, a category on which rests the act of painting, as her painting is a cumulative process of sediments revealed, dissected, recovered and organized by a constant archeological action. Not following a pre-established program, this random methodology finds a correspondence in the choice of the elements it represents, often fragmented and associated with her experience of the place, of the city she knows so well (Rio de Janeiro), of her location within it, and of a political awareness that this city is a space where very different and uneven modes of life coexist.
The titles of the paintings are grouped in three sections; “Studio”, “Garden”, and “Landscape”, revealing a tendency for the serial that conforms the way the painter builds her gaze on the space she inhabits. The city enters in her studio and the latter is discovered as a part of a city in continuous transformation, revealing architectural, social, vegetable (in the explosion of the tropical color and intensity), or formal distinctions that are translated in the different layers of the painting, never yielding to the virtuosity of faithfully representing the object she is focused on. In her way of doing, Lucia Laguna invests her attention in the plurality of the elements that move around her at a voracious speed, elements that are later accumulated and selected on and by the composition. Here, we face a painting typology that expresses an organic (and experimental) drive, as if a body in permanent transformation where we find the difference towards the Other, simultaneously close and distant to us in the formless scale of the megalopolis.
These differences are visible—almost tactile—in the images in the paintings, how paint is applied, between the texture, the dripping, the veiled transparencies and the colored surfaces, often as thin as a structural line, or a plant leaf that erupts over the urban landscape, transforming the nomenclatures of city, construction, nature, garden, or even the interior of her studio, in intense formal and chromatic relations that—precisely there—reveal her gaze on the multiplicity of the urban; a space where all modes of human interaction superimpose, and confronting us in the wonders of a painting that is simultaneously splendorous and a container of memories and re-inscriptions.
LUCIA LAGUNA was born in Campo dos Goytacazes, RJ in 1941. She graduated in Portuguese Literature in 1971 and started teaching after that. In the mid nineties she started studying Painting and History of Art at Escola de Artes Visuais do Parque Lage, Rio de Janerio. She had her first solo show in 1998. In 2012 she participated at the 30th São Paulo Bienal with a solo project, and in 2011 she participated at Panorama de Arte Brasileira at MAM-SP. She was one of the selected artists from Programa Rumos Artes Visuais, edition 2005/2006 at Instituto Cultural Itaú and won the CNI SESI Marcantônio Vilaça prize in 2006. Her work is part of the collection of Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro, Museu
de Arte Moderna de São Paulo, Museu Nacional de Brasília, among others.
Lucia Laguna paints the urban landscape of Rio de Janeiro. But this landscape comes in a concealed way, almost abstract. There is a juxtaposition of forms, lines and color fields that start from or overlay figurative elements, at times resembling a broken mirror. It is an elegant painting, of decided and calculated gestures within a dense pictorial field. Laguna develops a unique technicque, working from canvases previously painted by her assistants in acrylic, which she then consumes or deconstructs using oil paint. Hers are compositions where the painting process seems never ending, the image remains alive and ever changing before our eyes.