Ana Elisa Egreja

Canto da Poça, 2017

Oil on Canvas

190 × 240 cm

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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.

the artist

Ana Elisa Egreja (b. 1983 in São Paulo) is a Brazilian artist who graduated from the FAAP (Fundação Armando Alvares Penteado), São Paulo, in 2005. She currently lives and works in São Paulo. Between 2014 and 2017, Egreja featured in several prestigious institutional exhibitions in Brazil, notably at the 20th Contemporary Arts festival ‘Videobrasil’ in São Paulo, and CAIXA Cultural (2017), the Centro Cultural dos Correios (2016), the Museo dos Correios in Brasilia (2015); and Paço das Artes (2014). Today her works are part of the Franks-Suss Collection, London, in addition to Brazilian collections, and to date she is the recipient of three prizes: MARP’s Acquisition Prize in 2007 for ‘Sarp’ at Ribeirao Preto; MAM’s Acquisition Prize for the 15th Salao da Bahia in 2008; and last but not least in 2009, the Incentive Prize awarded by Tomie Ohtake for Premio Energias na arte.

Ana Elisa Egreja’s practice gravitates around both painting and architecture. Her creative process is transformative and poetic: in the past, she used to construct unexpected settings to syncopate different surroundings. These peculiar environments range from utopic illusive spaces to painted interiors of ghost-like houses or other inhospitable places. Each ‘set’ is dotted with objects like clues for us to fill the gaps in the story. The implicit narrative here is seductively strange: scattered traces call for us to inspect the work closely: There is indeed an enigmatic aura to her work, something palpably bizarre and yet weirdly harmonic: a poetic wit in some pieces, fragmented realities, subtle play with light in others.

With her current series, Jacarezinho, 92 - five paintings of which were on display at ARTUNER-curated exhibition Through the Looking Glass, the artist goes a step further in blurring the boundaries between reality and fantasy. Here, Egreja took over her late grandparents' home, which was quickly becoming obsolete under her own eyes: a large storage space for her relatives to relegate unwanted objects to. The consequently whimsical decor inspired the artist to create fantastic sets, introducing plants, animals, and strange objects into the domestic environment. Ana Elisa Egreja acted as creator, film director, and documentarist in order to craft and document the incredible scenes born out of her imagination. Only after the process of staging and documenting was completed, did Egreja start painting. Relying on the photographs and her own memories, the artist recreates the staged scenes on canvas, without the aid of a tracing technique: indeed, they have the vividness and pace of a dream.

Egreja’s works tread a fine line between balance and chaos; rational perspective and spontaneity. At times delightfully calm or eerily devoid of human life, at others totally delirious and kitsch, each work encapsulates an atmosphere and world of its own. Like a whirlpool, it draws us in, sets the eye in motion with a swirl of colour, characteristically illusive, almost dizzyingly so. Infused with an eclectic touch of Op Art, Brazilian flora, rococo and perhaps Matisse, the paintings also remarkably demonstrate the artist’s operatic style that is both exuberant and uncanny; quite cryptic but oddly attractive.

With her current series, Jacarezinho, 92 – five paintings of which were on display at ARTUNER-curated exhibition Through the Looking Glass, the artist goes a step further in blurring the boundaries between reality and fantasy.

Ana Elisa Egreja
on Artuner

Part of the

November 2nd, 2017 until
December 29th, 2017
Curated by ARTUNER