Língua com padrão de flor features a crimson passage along its center, delineated with thick impasto, which spills beyond the edge of the canvas onto the floor below. All around the red passage is a tile backing painted on canvas by Varejão with a faithful verisimilitude, rendered to look exactly like the ceramic Portuguese tiles which typically cover the exteriors of religious and government buildings in Brazil. Though visually distinct, the projecting tongue and the tile base are skillfully resolved into a single, unified, composition by the artist. Each part acts as a testament to the artist’s artistic labor and skill: the tiles function as evidence of Varejão’s draftsmanship, keen observational eye and ability to inspire aesthetic pleasure. The tongue, dramatically peeling off the surface of the canvas like skin, is an unbound exploration in paint and gesture, elevating the medium through its imaginative and subversive application.
The tiles, painstakingly rendered by the artist, contrast with the “tongue” projecting from the work’s center, disrupting that pristine surface and quaint sense of history. In bringing these elements together, Varejão questions our sanitized views of the past, introducing visceral and abject associations with the body, as well as notions of violence done to bodies, in order to highlight what lurks just beyond the surface.
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