2009_Jose Bento Ferreira

LESS IS MORE

 

 

Anyone acquainted with the work of Teresa Viana may be surprised.  When an artist changes, she positions herself critically with respect to her own work.  At the same time, she has endowed each step she has taken as something more than an isolated endeavor, as a point of inflection in a trajectory that we could refer to as “the poetic work.”  She takes the reins of her process of transformation. In her art she puts into practice the philosophical concept of “awareness of self.”  Still speaking philosophically, moving forward does not negate experience, does not signify a negation of the previous distance traveled. Quite the contrary, if the poetic is cohesive and results from an authentic commitment, the present moment cannot be considered in the fullness of its meaning, but rather in terms of its difference in relation to the preceding series of moments.  The new works of Teresa Viana demonstrate the comprehensive span of her link with painting.

Incredible though it seems, the elimination of “masses” – as the artist refers to her better known works, made with large masses of paint that pile up – does not completely purify the painting: the material dimension is still substantial.   The limpidity of the colors validates its gestural forms. The paint slides and accumulates.  We see in its overlapping accretions the struggle towards color and form.  All of this was already at play in the big solid paintings.  But these masses were so striking that the truly pictorial characteristics ended up in a secondary position. What Teresa Viana is proposing now is a reduction, not only in a quantitative sense but also as sublimation. When the excess is stripped away, the essential emerges.  Although the solid paintings were profusely colored, the colors merged towards one another as a result of the actual nature of the accumulated material.  The reduced form allows for stronger contrasts: less mass and more color.

 

According to the artist, the experiment with digital images was decisive in her change of course.  Almost all the information in the world is produced by a computer.  Electronic painting inverts the relationship between the image and reality.  Instead of using technology to retouch reality, as happens in the media, the artist produces strange images that are reminiscent of the psychedelic pop art of the 1970’s.  The most notable thing about them is the complete absence of a hand, which is so fundamental in “material” paintings.  These images do not represent reality, therefore they are not “virtual.” 

The absence of a hand and the resistance of the material, a necessity in the electronic medium, are not camouflaged by the artist in the appearance of the painting.  This is not a matter of “virtual painting” because the images do not aspire to be anything more than what they are.  They are not potential or possible realities, and do not allude to anything beyond themselves.  They are absolutely independent, more than “material painting” could be, which is produced out of the materials of the world, or pop painting produced out of the world of images.  The incorporeal character of digital images is acknowledged by the artist, which validates the corporality of “material painting.”  This is why she organizes the images in series and affirms that they comprise a “visual text.”  

The two types of works, the corporeal and the incorporeal, the material and the digital, have exactly the same elements: colors and forms. The main difference is that in the instance of “material painting” these elements emerge from the contact between the hand and the canvas, while the computer cannot be considered a medium that can provide such contact, it is a neutral medium of absolute indifference.  And so the images, although independent from the material point of view, depend upon one another to say something, like words that on their own are not altogether bereft of sense yet remain vague and diffuse.  In the paintings the meaning is in the action, while in the images it hovers in a state of suspension.