Things and Beings features 12 paintings and 10 watercolors, dating from 1990 through 2016, and providing a summarized overview of the output of one of Brazil’s foremost contemporary painters.
Coming up in an emblematic Brazilian painting revivalist generation in the early 1980’s, Cristina Canale remained true to her painter roots throughout her career, despite the fact that she lived in Germany from 1993 onwards, in a time when the power of other mediums, such as installation, video, and photograph dominated the art scene.
Spanning over two decades, these artworks reveal the virtuosity of a style underpinned by complex compositions, at times featuring swollen planes and paint layers of varying thicknesses, and at others liquefied solutions. In her canvases and drawings, deceptively trivial narratives built upon a unique figuration, are invariably a step away from melting down into abstraction.
According to the artist, a number of elements have informed her work: Rio de Janeiro’s curvy, depth-filled landscape and Oscar Niemeyer’s modernist curves, contact with nature (the tropical landscape), and the confrontation of the geometrism featured in Brazil’s – and especially Rio’s – architecture, visual program, and art. “This amalgamation of visuality has a lot to do with my work, whereas my presence in Germany is explained through my interest in the tradition of painting, and the context of its revival in the 80s,” says Canale.
With images revealed, or overexposed – for as critic Tiago Mesquita once put it, “her pictures look like images found in the motion of clouds or in the outlines left by waves in the sand” – Canale culls her poetic arsenal from day-to-day, domestic scenes composed of people, women, animals, things, and nature. Things and Beings showcases her wide-ranging pictorial vocabulary, revealing a latent affectivity that underlies the materiality of the objects, the little gestures, the landscapes, the beings that are portrayed, the scenic atmospheres.
According to the critic Luisa Duarte, 30 years into the artist’s career, this tension that sets out to deconstruct a will for order and perenniality – or better yet chooses to inhabit an ‘”in between” space that straddles abstraction, lines, and the evocation of figures, all interspersed with big blots of color – is seen in each and every one of the artworks in Things and Beings, rendering the entire show utterly cohesive throughout. “Her houses are triangles, her flowers are lines, a hat dissolves into a pure mass of color, hair turns to circles and cones. And thus, by allowing an unglamorous vocabulary from run-of-the-mill living to stand tall amid abstract shapes, these paintings infiltrate the gap between Being and thing, between what’s perennial and what’s transient. This oeuvre chooses to conflictingly intertwine – for it is exactly in the short-circuit that its potency resides, what’s worldly – what’s fleeting, what’s near, and what’s sheer abstraction”, the Brazilian critic argues.