© Vasco Stocker Vilhena
Neo-Post-Neo. The proposition’s, or, better still, the preposition’s sound comprises a whole program (of work and exegesis). Right from the start, we suspect we are in for a biased, iconoclastic, ironic, generous dialogue based on an autophagic relationship with painting, including that produced by the artist herself.
As almost always, but now more radically (in the most profound and broadest meaning of the word: a violent, courageous gesture that relates to the fundamentals or moves away from the traditional), Mariana Gomes rethinks, remakes, reuses her paintings, opening a new territory in which she keeps marks, traces, and fragments of her previous work. These are revisions (in the sense of looking or conceiving again) of her past work.
It is necessary to understand that the sentence is, in Kirkegaardian terminology, performative, i.e., binding: the artist took canvases already painted and exhibited (some of them at this same gallery in 2019) and painted on them, from them, with them. It is as if she were elaborating a dialogue with herself or the other that she necessarily and fatally is during the act of painting.
Perhaps painting is always, to a lesser or greater degree, a vertiginous and abyssal practice of alternity, a personality split, a disjunction between body, brain, and anima. With distance and without distance, in turn, in a precarious balance between construction and destruction, between going as far as is convenient or going too far. To call everything into question, making it out of balance, in pieces — even the sacrosanct notion of authorship. There are many subjects and modulations in Mariana Gomes’ painting, as we have discovered throughout her career.
There are many images, too. This is the generous, curious, excessive side of her painting — to sip from, and then regurgitate, everything around her.
One of her subjects is painting itself. Because of this, one can find many dialogues and always unfinished conversations with so many painters from so many times. Another subject is contemporary visual culture, from the popular to the erudite (if the dichotomy is still operative), especially cinema and photography — in Mariana Gomes’s painting a grid can come from modernist painting or evoke a barbecue grill. But what comes forth, what is genuinely relevant and interests the painter the most, are those moments in history when doubt rises and certainties (forms) disintegrate: let’s call it “mannerisms.”
The first observation about the new works is that we are facing paintings-happenings and no longer paintings-assemblages. Here, elements are no longer so clearly limited from each other, and we no longer have smooth or neutral backgrounds on which everything seems to coexist, and forms (informal in most cases) emerge from within each other. “A kind of organic abstraction in precarious balance.”
The second observation follows from the first. These paintings are not searching for a name; they are looking for new bodies, associations, relations, genres, and forms beyond form. They are metamorphic. They are in transformation, in process. In this sense, they are of our time. They exist now, seemingly trying to answer questions about a future we still need to learn how to formulate rigorously.
They are, perhaps, an unlikely cross between Cronenberg, Picabia, and Bonnard: they are visceral and eschatological, but also luminous and joyful. They are strange. They are innards — gut painting. And it is in this strangeness made of densities and opacities, through these fissures and this bubbling up of matter, that we can glimpse pictorial micro-events that tell us of timeless but untold stories: stories of transformation, stories of metamorphosis.
From my visit to the artist’s studio, I retained a phrase, as mysterious as it is certain: "the body of the painting comes from the painter’s body". If we drop all adjectives and formal considerations, references to painters or the history of painting, if everything about this painting had to be summed up in a sentence, that would be it.