Nara Roesler São Paulo presents Memento Vivere, Cristina Canale's sixth solo exhibition at the gallery's São Paulo location. The showcase brings together a selection of her most recent artworks, created between 2021 and 2023. Curated by Marcelo
Campos, the exhibition features thirteen paintings and six drawings, all of which are previously unseen and will be open to the public from August 19th, coinciding with the 4th edition of the Circuito Jardim Europa.
Cristina Canale emerged in the Brazilian art scene during the 1980s, a period marked by a resurgence of painting in Brazil and internationally, greatly influenced by German neo-expressionism. She also participated in the emblematic group exhibition Como vai você, Geração 80? (How Are You, Generation 80?), held at the Escola de Artes Visuais do Parque Lage (EAV Parque Lage) in Rio de Janeiro in 1984, which brought together many artists of that generation.
Throughout her career, Canale has consistently explored established painting genres such as portraiture and landscape. She often incorporates elements and scenes from everyday life, frequently derived from advertising photographs, creating compositions characterised by vibrant colours, an abundance of ambiguous forms and dreamlike settings.
The central theme of this exhibition revolves around a series of portrait paintings focused on female figures. In creating these works, the artist revisits not only the history of portraiture but also draws inspiration from mythological elements. Canale points out that the primary function of a portrait is to immortalise faces and presence, serving as mementos. Thus, in some of her works, she starts with mythological figures like the goddess Thetis and Princess Danae, symbolising the female figure as a source of fertility and life. In other cases, she employs a technique commonly used in portrait art since the Renaissance–mirroring or duplicating the subject, as seen in Sincronias (2022) and Mãe e filha II (2023).
As a recurring motif in her artistic journey, Canale removes distinct facial features from her characters, reducing their faces to essential lines. Her compositions also incorporate recurring elements like dialogue balloons, clouds, droplets, and atmospheric elements, blurring the boundaries between pictorial genres, blending landscape and portraiture, and challenging the distinction between figuration and abstraction. These artistic approaches ultimately give rise to what Canale describes as an 'anti-portrait,' where she dissolves the conventional notion of portraiture.
In this exhibition, Canale introduces two-dimensional elements through collages, a technique she has previously employed in her work. These elements are present not only in her paintings but also in a series of drawings on paper. Using various colourful and richly patterned papers traditionally found in gift wrapping, these drawings establish a dialogue with her artwork.
Even in pieces that are not explicitly portraits, the feminine element, associated with life and vitality, appears directly or indirectly. While traditional portraits often served as 'memento mori'–reminders of mortality – Canale's anti-portraits become their opposite: 'memento vivere'–reminders to embrace life.
Press release courtesy Galeria Nara Roesler.