Ana Elisa Egreja

Shelf, 2019

Oil on Canvas

190 × 280 cm

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Ana Elisa Egreja’s new pictorial series ‘Campo Verde’ is set in the 1950s Modernist house at 225, Campo Verde St in São Paulo, scouted by the artist shortly prior to its demolition. Although not linked to her own biography, through her stagings which use the objects left behind by the property’s previous residents as props, Egreja turns the dwelling into a theatre of memory and loss, abundance and absence, heart warming and eerie at the same time.

Indeed, the artist gathered all the abandoned possessions and old family photos she was able to find around the house in this room, and displayed them on the portrayed shelves, restoring both them and the objects themselves to their former function.At the same time, however, the gleaming candles and photos of ancestors transfigure the shelf into an altar of sorts, almost a celebration of the house’s funeral that precedes its demolition.

In this, as in Ana Elisa Egreja other paintings of this series, time is an incredibly volatile element, never fully grasped: as in the Fantastic Realism tradition, it is not linear, but cyclical, never leading to the end, but rather to new beginnings.

Although the shelf has been rendered on a 1:1 scale with the original and the scene looks envelopingly life-like, Egreja’s paintings are not hyperrealist, as a close inspection of the canvas reveals. In fact, her technique is akin to Flemish still life painting, whereby thick impasto brushstrokes are applied to the canvas thus creating an uneven surface, which however optically flattens out from far away. In this work in particular, Egreja experimented with various techniques which allowed her to depict different textures and materials, describing it as “a subjective research laboratory of brush strokes”.

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