Pace Gallery presents Onda, a solo exhibition of new work by Brazilian artist Marina Perez Simão. Marking the artist’s first presentation in the UK, Simão takes over all three gallery spaces with a suite of paintings and works on paper in her distinctive painterly style.
This exhibition coincides with the launch of a major artist monograph published by Rizzoli featuring new texts by Osman Can Yerebakan and Fernanda Brenner.
At stake in Marina Perez Simão’s practice is an investigation of the metaphysical. Her work hovers in the liminal space between abstraction and figuration, expertly handling color, form, and texture to convey the feeling of a landscape and the power of nature. Working across painting, drawing, and collage, Simão cites figures such as Luchita Hurtado, Georgia O’Keefe, and Agnes Pelton as key artistic inspirations.
Growing up between Minas Gerais and Rio de Janeiro, Simão’s practice is intrinsically linked to the wild and dramatic landscapes of her childhood. From the dense fog that shrouds the surrounding hills of Minas Gerais to the crackling storms in Rio, Simão’s experience of nature is that of a vital and powerful force which demands both wonder and fear. Titling the exhibition after the Portuguese for ‘wave’, Onda encapsulates this duality as the artworks at once encircle and collide with the visitors. In Untitled (2022), a large, four-panel work expands across the lower ground floor gallery wall in large swathes of jewel-toned oranges, yellows, and greens. A riot of color and serpentine form, this large-scale work envelops the viewer, immersing them into the artist’s dream-like world. Simão’s distinctive use of color and gesture creates the impression of fabric, recalling the texture of fine velvet.
Close observation of light is fundamental to Simão’s painting practice. Using a dynamic contrast of warm and cool, rich and earthy tones, her works simultaneously absorb and emit light, creating a hypnotic, pulsating effect. For Simão, darkness holds a particular potency, she believes mystical transformations occur under cover of night. At the end of each day in the studio, Simão turns off the lights and observes her works at dusk, relishing in the way the oil paint glows and mutates on the linen.
In dialogue with Simão’s reverence for nature is her admiration for other art forms including music, poetry, and literature. The undulating forms in her work are often informed by the rhythmic patterns of classical music, likewise the imagery conjured by poets such as Emily Dickinson resonate deeply with Simão’s expert manipulation of gesture and emotion. Indeed her parallel practice of painting on linen and watercolor on paper reflect the openness with which Simão approaches the act of making. Displayed side by side in Onda, Simão constructs what she calls a ‘rhythmic rapport’ between her works, allowing viewers the opportunity to closely examine the texture and materiality of her idiosyncratic style.
Installation View, Marina Perez Simão: Onda, September 7 – October 1, 2021, Pace Gallery, London © Marina Perez Simão. Photo: Damian Griffiths, courtesy Pace Gallery