Ana Elisa Egreja

Pink Room, 2019

Oil on Canvas

190 × 240 cm

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Ana Elisa Egreja assumes many roles — architect, cinematic director, photogrographer — before she begins to paint one of her life-like interiors and roomscapes. Her current series of paintings, ‘Campo Verde’ is set in a 1955 house designed by renowned Brazilian architect Rino Levi, which the artist used as her subject before its demolition. While not linked to her own biography, as was the case for her previous series set in Jacarezinho 92, Egreja populated the Modernist rooms of Campo Verde she then portrayed on an almost 1:1 scale with vestiges of the previous inhabitants, mixed with objects she brought in from the outside. Each painting, the artist suggests, resembles a Fantastic Realism storytale, in which time is never linear but, on the contrary, cyclic, and where symbolic objects are represented figuratively as in descriptive narrative.

‘Pink Room’ (2019) depicts an unoccupied space, though not one devoid of human traces: the room’s imagined young residents have plastered the glass of a sliding door with stickers, its edge adorned by a dangling, plush horse. While the faux marble and Giotto star wallpapers sourced in Sao Paulo’s popular markets introduce a simultaneously kitsch and learned dimension, but reminiscent of bygone days, the window stickers act as a wake-up call to the present. Indeed, Ana Elisa Egreja complemented the already existing ones with new stickers that she had been collecting in the streets of Sao Paulo. They bear witness to the turmoil Brazilian politics in recent times and can be considered its timeline.

On the left-hand side of the view, one notices two framed posters of Fra Angelico’s exhibitions. Other than adding a further art-historical layer to the composition, their inclusion references the importance that art reproductions have in Brazil, where they are the main medium through which students learn art history.

The viewing experience is made uniquely uncanny by the viewer’s own imagination and spurred memories within enrapturing parallel worlds. Egreja’s multifaceted practice produces a world that blurs lines between photography and painting, reality and fantasy, wistfulness and inventiveness, the mundane and the exotic, poetical and political.

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

May 22nd, 2019 until
August 31st, 2019
Curated by ARTUNER