Alessandra Simoes | 2011
The work by artist Cristina Canale reveals an authentic freedom. It is free because it stays loyal to its choice: painting. And it is authentic because it is permanently committed to aesthetic research and the construction of dynamic and coherent work, entrenched in the long historic survey of western art. This Brazilian artist has been living and working in Berlin for over 30 years, mostly preoccupied with the meticulous discipline of painting, as she proposes an alternative to the contemporary language closely associated with new technologies and differentiated supports. The work displayed in her exhibition Without Words, recently presented at the Nara Roesler Gallery, in São Paulo, Canale showcases her ability to combine color and line, matter and shape, to create a universe both serene and intense. Without pretending to be original, but exceedingly adept at putting together a language and a repertoire, she reveals above all things, the authenticity of beauty.
In this event, Canale proposed her preference for the visual-chromatic possibilities of oil-based colors. Her paintings are materic. Even her drawings have weight and materiality to them. A member of the alumni from the Escola de Artes Visuais do Parque Lage that also participated in the exhibition, she became one of the most important names of that generation that came after the resurgence of painting in Brazil.
Like some of her colleagues, Canale created works that suggested traces of Abstract Expressionism, through the thick layers of color and gestural graphism. During this period her work reminds us somehow of Arshile Gorky (1905–1948), Jackson Pollock (1912–1956) and Philip Guston (1913–1980). During the 1990s, her work is still heavily influenced by German Neo-Expressionism, an influence that intensified once she began to travel in Europe. In 1993, she received a scholarship from the State of Brandenburg to work in the Wiepersdorf castle, and soon after she also won a scholarship from the Düsseldorf Art Academy. Today, the artist has a studio in Rio de Janeiro, but chose to make Germany her place of residence.
The grand expressionistic gestures and dense layers of color that characterized the beginning of her career when she would even apply the thick layers of paint directly from the tube where gradually subdued in later works. The decade of the 1980s went by but her work remained. After a long process of depuration that continues to this day in the harmonious struggle of shape vs. matter and volume vs. the surroundings her work arrived to the current period with coherence and vitality. Color became her ally to the point that it became essential to create spatial situations and to integrate figure and matter into the same formal composition.
Patches, lines, lights, transparencies and superimpositions occupied the space that was once modeled by a pictorial paste. Relying on the technics used to render acrylic colors, matter became more fluid. There are always white areas with opportune highlights and the balance of the whole. Landscapes, portraits, and everyday scenes become recurrent themes that emphasize Canale's relationship with art history technically and symbolically speaking and that confer her work secular aura. It is possible to establish connections between her work and the tropical imaginary of modernist artists like José Pancetti (1902–1958) and Alberto da Veiga-Guignard (1896–1962); or with European masters with highly chromatic palettes like Henri Matisse (1869–1954) and Paul Gauguin (1848–1903). Matisse especially is referenced through profusely colored arabesques, like the ones found in the canvas entitled Detalles (Details, 2011), in which the head of a girl, who has her back to the viewers, displays an enormous amount of details.
The same weightlessness rendered on her canvases is present in the themes of her most recent works. They are everyday scenes, such as portraits of persons inhabiting interior environments populated by furniture and colorful wallpapers. Scenes that depict, for instance, a proud grandfather with his granddaughter, a cat promiscuously stretched on the floor, or a dog that looks back at viewers with a profoundly loyal and empty gaze. Some canvases only depict the scenes without the characters, as if these had just left the place. Thus, solitary armchairs or empty pools are depicted to remind us about the prosaic and silent poignancy of the mundane.
When the images are more populated, like in the case of the portrait of three women entitled Vecinas (Neighbors, 2011), the faces are undone by white patches and the remaining elements are geometrized to render a cadenced harmony, in a synthesis that also appears to exalt banality.
Above all, Cristina Canale's work contains a feminine, docile, and sensitive gaze. The exhibition Sin Palabras included works that accurately put that universe into focus. Hers is a vision that contemplates the small things as if they were unique and final. There is in these images a subtle but compelling love for the everyday, people, and intimacy. This is the manner in which Canale's paintings reveal not solely a nostalgia for the aesthetic object, but also the saudade (yearning) for a lost beauty, calm, and interior life that no longer have a place in this noisy word.
Nexus magazine. Issue #83 Dec - Feb 2012