Zip'Up: And listen to the wind blow: Diana Motta

20 October - 19 November 2016



Stepping into a mirror room could be the sensation that the public experiences when they visit And listen to the wind blow, by Diana Motta, on project Zip' Up. The first solo exhibition by this artist from Sao Paulo in art galleries leads to some poetic vectors of her production, which is very unique when it comes to painting in our cultural scene. What may stand out is the power of the pictorial project carried out by her. Even through other languages, painting leaves a mark on the videos, drawings and collages, among other supports, produced by Diana.


Another clear line presented in this excerpt is the self-portrayal, walking a thin line between an almost obsessive intimacy of the atelier, which makes her produce more works along these lines, and their alluring trait of an exhibition. And everything is created, seen, experienced and disseminated in times of an overdose of selfies and other ostensive signs of narcissism. In this area, there are also fruitful discussions about feminism today, in minimalist narratives that overlap the confessional, the intuitive and the activist, for example.


Another emphasized aspect in And listen to the wind blow (taken from the song The Wind, by British singer PJ Harvey, 1998) is the artist's smooth circulation through an accurate figuration and a skillfully crafted abstraction - in it, the transparencies, the juxtaposition of layers and the unrestricted use of materials vigorously attest to the pertinence of her program.


The painting Mirror is a key work in this exhibition, especially because of its closeness to the video Fall. The painting, on a modest scale, brings up nowadays a fruitful item for discussion provoked by paintbrushes, palettes and framing in past years and today by clicks, stills and frames. Resort to photography is evident as a foundation for painting, which portrays a minor and banal landscape, with a female figure, trees and a car on a somewhat peaceful street, everything surrounded by an opacity and an uncertainty that provide the work with an enclosing atmosphere. "The painted canvas, as an enunciation and meaningfulness, is produced and read from a space that is not fictional, but a discursive space, out of frame" 1, writes Jacques Aumont. "(…) Creating an image is, therefore, to always present the equivalent of a certain field - visual field and phantasmatic field, and both at the same time, indivisibly." 2


Mirror then takes advantage of those poles of seeing/not seeing and migrates in this ever-moving condition into Fall, another piece that is skillfully linked to commonly adopted audiovisual procedures. The water that flows smoothly and rhythmically, from the perspective of a steady camera, summarizes with simple tools what is inseparable, inextricably linked. Then the somewhat rigid perspective of the painting flows into a moving image, in pace with the pigment that dyes the water.


The self-portrait portion of And listen to the wind blow could get lost in a superficial exhibitionism, but the corpus of Diana's production has other good references, such as the versatile investigation of femininity, between the ostentation and the vulnerability, by North-American Laurel Nakadate. With videos, feature films and photographs, the young artist raised in Iowa, belonging to deep America, destabilizes a more conservative look and talks about identity in relationships and gatherings that can be considered anachronic. Here in Sao Paulo, Diana adopts a tone that flirts with naïf and pop, sometimes obsessively constructed, as it seems in the drawing Festa na Árvore, in which Kurt Cobain coexists with a Hindu deity in a leafy vegetation to the south of the Equator. "The confessions came from religious individualism in the Protestant Reformation and the diaries took hold in the Romantic period. Autofiction is only the current form of an ancient practice"3, explains literary critic Leyla Perrone-Moisés in an interview, about the recrudescence of this form and that it oftentimes bumps into discursive shallowness (there are many similar examples in cinema).


In conclusion, Diana's abstract incursion could have a formative key, in that she studied in the USA for years, and the pictorial currents that circulate there may be less rigid than the ones experienced here. The new phase of this artist from São Paulo draws upon influences as diverse as Joan Mitchell (1925-1992), Albert Oehlen, Dana Schutz and Eddie Peake, among others. The slightly reverent works by Diana, adopting fragmented strategies, exhale freshness, as one of her writings, Fresh, exploding into a recent painting by the same name. The chromaticism and the multiplicity of her look, therefore, have a lot to say about the fleetingness and the permanence, the disenchantment and the fascination, the partial and the complete of contemporary visuality.


Mario Gioia, October 2016.


* The title of the text is inspired by a book with the same title, which dates from 1919, by Alfonsina Storni (1892-1938), a figurehead of Avant-Gard literature in Argentina.  

1. AUMONT, Jacques. L'oeil Interminable (Cinema and Painting). São Paulo, Cosac Naify, 2007, p. 114

2. AUMONT, Jacques. Op. cit., p. 114

3. GONÇALVES FILHO, Antonio. The Future of the Literary WorkO Estado de S.Paulo, Caderno 2, 30.set.2016, p.C4