What happens when an artist paints on a photograph? On a philosophical level, this has far-reaching consequences. No longer it’s part of a series that can go on to infinity. It becomes a unique artwork. And this is precisely what artist Alice Quaresma wants.
Quaresma takes these pictures from an archive she put together over the last fifteen years. A frequently recurring subject matter is the beach of Rio de Janeiro, righther hometown that she left in 2003. It is a complicated emotional relationship since she takes the photos as an outsider; they are renewing the memories of an immigrant. But it also keeps her connected to her roots.
She combines these beautiful pictures of mostly natural phenomena with colourful splashes of acrylic paint, tape and pencil. It results in a fascinating combination of a photograph and a painting, the technical and the gestural, documentation and expression. The objective is to bring more subjectivity to photography. In a way, she cuts out the camera and creates a more immediate relationship between the artwork and the viewer.
The forms she draws over the photographs are geometrical shapes. Over the years, they have become more organic. In no way, it’s meant to be factual, objective and clear-cut. She wants to move away from perfection and the sole documentary purpose of photography. By discussing it, interacting and interpreting, the viewer is in charge of the final meaning of the artwork. In this context, she uses oil pastel paint, it never thoroughly dries. The work is perpetually in progress.
As stated before, a central subject matter is the beach of Rio de Janeiro. Quaresma contemplated her attraction to the sea and came up with an explanation. The sea is a symbol of a journey of hope; one never stays in the middle of the ocean for too long, one passes it to get somewhere else.
Next to making one of a kind photographs, she creates murals. Last year, she created Mental Object for a storefront in Los Angeles. Putting art in a public place is a great way to bring it to a new audience. They catch the passing persons by surprise; you can’t control it.
Quaresma is committed to the tradition of the Brazilian neo-concrete movement from around the ’60s that rejected a pure rationalist approach to art. Artists such as Helio Oiticica created installation and performances, and artists like Lygia Clark made impermanent works; nothing was fixed. She brought this outlook to photography and her murals. Her work captures and surprises and don’t get me started on how beautiful it is.
Her work will be part of the exhibition LAND+BODY=Escape at the NARS Foundation until June 1. More info here.