In order to create this artwork, Ana Elisa Egreja adopted many guises. She posed as sentimental granddaughter, vandal, location scout, animal trainer, props manager and cinematic director, all before reassuming her official role as painter.
The reason behind such chameleonic activity lies in the fact that, despite its uncanny visage, Canto da Poça is a painting of a real space—a space meticulously staged by the artist. While many of Egreja’s ‘abandoned houses’ were produced by layering numerous images and objects in a ‘virtual collage’, the entire scene depicted here – along with the others from the Jacarezinho, 92 series – was realised, full-size and three-dimensional, in the decaying home of artist’s late grandparents. Egreja literally flooded the dining room; she filled the pool with frogs and aquatic flora; she studied the light, the various angles of observation, sketching, filming and photographing all the while to produce an image upon which to base her painting. The longer she spent in this preparatory stage, the more she came to reflect upon her memories of the house in its former state, and muse upon its existence in previous decades.
It is unsurprising, then, that a palpable air of nostalgia lingers around this painting in its final form. Canto da Poça is, at least partially, a comforting evocation of proverbial domesticity. Yet Egreja pairs this reassuring characteristic with an aura of unfamiliarity. In this painting, the homely interior is invaded by objects which are distinctly foreign to it—stagnant water, plants, and wild animals.
Perhaps this unsettling yet strangely seductive dichotomy is the inevitable result of the contradictory practices which produced Canto da Poça in the first place. Egreja’s process was, after one of materialising the make-believe, painstakingly cultivating wilderness and replicating depth on a lightly textured, two-dimensional plane.