A Regra do Jogo

Renata Egreja

26/May/2012 – 23/Jun/2012

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    Fernanda Lopes

    "I wanted to put everything inside the frame until it fell like rotten fruit on the ground". Jorge Guinle

    José de Alencar, perhaps Brazil's foremost romantic prose writer, is known for an elaborate narrative style that was reflected in his novels in extensive passages and meticulously described details on flora, on the exuberance of nature and of natural man, as well as exaggerated eulogies for women, true romantic heroines. In Senhora, amid descriptions that go on for several pages and ramify into adjectives, Alencar takes just one sentence to summarize Aurélia Camargo, the title character of this urban romance published in 1875: "A trace is enough to draw her under this face."

    Just like Alencar's, the work by artist Renata Egreja, from São Paulo, who studied Fine Arts at Faculdade Armando Álvares Penteado (FAAP) before graduating from École Nationale Superiéure des Beaux-Arts (ENSBA) in Paris, is built through excesses. This exhibition brings together a group of paintings and watercolors, some seen for the first time, revealing a little about the artist’s recent production.

    At first sight, Renata Egreja's work displays a huge accumulation of information. Large-scale paintings and watercolors present a line of thought turned towards the chaotic construction as their pictorial logic. Great color fields are invaded by lines, weaves, drips, geometric shapes, more rounded shapes, sharing space with references to the history of Brazilian art, especially to the history of Brazilian painting (with the colors of Tarsila do Amaral and the shapes of Leda Catunda and Beatriz Milhazes), and references from the East and elements of botany. Colors, shapes, patterns and movements are combined and recombined, overlapping, here veiling, there revealing each other, assembling the memory of the work. In this game, each of these "pieces" is thoughtfully placed on the "board", in pursuit of equilibrium. Chance has space in this logic of construction. But not gratuitousness.

    "I wanted to put everything inside the frame until it fell like rotten fruit on the ground," the painter Jorge Guinle (1947-1987) once said. The critic Ronaldo Brito wrote of Guinle's vigorous painting: "The operation is vertiginous, exhausting and engages a physical gaze, ready to feel the pulse of matter, the energy of gestures, the artist's differing and diverging decisions – the sudden attacks, obsessive maneuvers, the various moods that each canvas seems to be literally exhaling. They cannot be perused from an ideal point of view: they have to be experienced through the pores of painting". In a certain sense, Renata Egreja seems to desire a dialogue with this logic, with this heritage of one of the leading members of Geração 80 in Brazil.

    In this pictorial clash, colors, shapes, motifs and a whole series of intentions for paintings are mixed. However on looking more calmly, we see that all this excess has as its starting point a primary interest: gesture. All paintings and watercolors are like studies of the numerous possibilities of this simple motion that is repeated, overlapped, potentialized, wiped out and transformed into another. The gesture may be used to give outlines to shapes and is also responsible for blurring boundaries established inside the painting between two color fields. Viewed side by side, these paintings bring out these traits, these gestures, as studies on the possibilities of the practice of painting. It is as if with each movement the artist seemed to be asking: "How far can a trace or a gesture go? How long may it be stretched?"

    We then see that there is just one rule of the game: a trace is enough.


    Interview with Frederico Morais. O Globo, Rio de Janeiro, May 31, 1982.

    BRITO, Ronaldo. "Paroxismos de pintura".In: GUINLE, Jorge. Jorge Guinle. São Paulo: Galeria Luisa Strina, 1984. pp [3-6]

    Critical essay