1999_Stella Teixeira de Barros

The seductive allure of color

Original Portuguese text published in the catalog of the exhibition at Panorama da Arte de Brasileira do Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo.



The coloring of Teresa Viana’s painting seduces at first sight. But her painting contains more than just color. Her canvases are laden with an intense sensorial chromatism, swift changes of tones and half tones, and volumetric accumulation. Besides turning into relief, her painting creates a subtle, on-going dialogue between light and shade. Furthermore, as result of the relief bulked by encaustics, it conserves na affinity with sculpture-like paintings that is only apparent, devoid of any association with the sculpture. In the outcropping of painting matter, Teresa Viana’s profuse colors come forth and interpenetrate, strict and flexible, though they always adhere to the surface so as to be able to express the permanent ambiguity by which they are driven.


In Viana’s more recent canvases, the line enters the painting in a playful manner, permeating the clumps of color as if they were its generating structure. This is a line that turns into color-line and painting-line, establishing a symbiotic association between drawing and painting, given that these line traces bear in themselves an instance of drawing, na intention of drawing. They go as far as to force colors to seek higher definition. However, when plunged in the canvas, these lines transmute and change into painting. They articulate a densification of tonal rhyyhms of light and shade and a renewal of painting’s internal constructions, this ratifying a power of sensorial evocation that causes saturated color radiations to tremble at the same time that it enhances those regions of maximum luminosity containing more opaque regions of reflected, mirrored light. These encounters – between lineal structures that tend to formalize contours and the painterly matter that contains this presumed line – generate a dialogue that is always oppositional, a disagreement, as part of na odd covenant that demonstrates the eager investigations of a primordial issue of painting, i.e., the aspect that incites the senses to see and the gaze, to fantasize.


However, Viana’s painting shows no visible sign of virtuosity. Hers is a painting whose essence is revealed in the way the artist captures the ephemeral. A painting in which luminous areas interconnect with shades through passages toned by a pulsating chromatism that, in turn, is engendered by anaimmense range of color gradations, which always leaves in suspense the points of variation between colors. The malleable and sensual density of Viana’s lines does not secure a spatial framework for painting, as the lines themselves are transformed into pictorial flows. The organization that lines seek to offer in search for a spatial rationality is countered by the latency of colors and by the unstable occupation of space by means of overlays and transparencies. It is precisely in this clash between lines and brushstrokes that painting is reconfigured as light, color and movement.


Nearly ten years ago the Rio de Janeiro-born artist settled in São Paulo where she has been devoting herself to na art work that beats the sign of diligent fabrication and deep concentration on the color scheme, one in which the painterly nature of the brushwork does not daze colors; rather, it redeems it constantly through the instatement of detailed color changes. If on the one hand the artist bows before the tradition of painting on a flat surface, namely oil painting on canvas, she reinterprets and reinvents this archaic process with a freshness that is not hampered by the existing clashes between matter and color, surface and background, drawing and painting. On the contrary, from the vibrations givent off by these relations she derives a reflexive experimentation, one in which the work opens up to life only to meet with the indistinct, thus surrendering to the seduction emanating from the irreconcilable.