Mining artifice and sensuality with 17th and 18th century historical references, Varejão's work annihilates any attempt at formal analysis. Her approach to art making embodies radical experimentation and a profoundly personal reading of cultural cannibalism or anthropophagy. A term first coined in the 1920s by Brazilian modernist poet Oswald de Andrade in his "Anthropophagist Manifesto,” anthropophagy served to “cannibalize” the cultural contribution of European colonizers, consuming, mutilating and ultimately transforming it to create an authentic Brazilian culture--one better suited for the modern era.
Varejão's ongoing courtship with the Baroque-arguably the most original and poignant quality in her work-grounds her painting in European tradition. Like Rembrandt, Soutine, and Bacon before her, Varejão's fascination with flesh permeates her work with a visceral condition absent in the work of her contemporaries.
Executed in 1991 at the onset of her career, Gêmea (Twin) explores the materiality of paint through the lense of self-portraiture; a recurrent theme recently reexamined by Varejão in the 2014 Polvo Portraits. As an early expression of her artistic persona, Gêmea inaugurates a career long investigation into the politics of colonialism and miscegenation in her native Brazil. Exquisitely textural and introspective, the present work confirms Varejão's incomparable and theatrical artistry.
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