In a new series of paintings created for Dallas Contemporary, Brazilian artist Adriana Varejão (b. 1964) explores themes of colonialism and cultural identity. The artist has used her own image as a starting point, then changed her appearance through adding facial markings and altering the tone of her face. In this way, she manipulates her ethnic background and the manner in which her image is interpreted.
Varejão’s rigorous practice is informed by cultural and historical research. For each series of work, she investigates fields such as art history, anthropology, colonial trade, demography, and racial identity. In her early work, she made graphic depictions highlighting what she perceived to be historical inaccuracies and hierarchies of power during Brazil’s colonial period. She would often allude to the subjugation of native people by Portuguese conquistadors and the evangelisation by Catholic missionaries.
Varejão lives and works in Rio de Janeiro. In 2013, she won the Mario Pedrosa Award from the Brazilian Association of Art Critics, which recognizes the Brazilian contemporary artist who most contributed to national culture the previous year. He work has been displayed in museums worldwide.
Adriana Varejão: Kindred Spirits is on until December 20th 2015 at Dallas Contemporary.
Photo: Adriana Varejão. Kindred Spirits. Oil on canvas, 2015. Installation view at Dallas Contemporary, 2015. Photography: Kevin Todora. Courtesy of Dallas Contemporary.