Solange Pessoa

Anaïs Castro
Mendes Wood DM, New York
May 12–June 17, 2023
Solange PessoaEarthworks, exhibition view, Mendes Wood DM, New York, 2023.
Photo: Matheus Yehudi, courtesy of the artist &
Mendes Wood DM, São Paulo, Brussels & New York
Mendes Wood DM, New York
May 12–June 17, 2023
Using organic materials indigenous to her native Brazil, the artist Solange Pessoa takes inspiration from the splendid landscapes of Minas Gerais, with its rolling hills and winding rivers. Earthworks, her current exhibition at Mendes Wood DM in New York, delves into the intricate layers of personal and regional identity, questioning how our sense of self is shaped by our cultural heritage and the natural habitat that surrounds us. 

Large, monochromatic cinnamon-coloured paintings embrace a group of amorphous clay vessels, turning the main gallery into a terracotta garden. Various plant shapes, birds, and reptiles punctuate the surfaces of the paintings in an homage to the rich floral and faunal ecosystems that Minas Gerais supports. Despite alluding to all types of natural symbols, Pessoa’s pictorial language remains grounded in the tradition of Brazilian abstraction. Amid the paintings, the sculptures, an ensemble titled Domingas (2023), function as vessels of collective memory and ancestral wisdom, and subtly hint at regional traditional craftsmanship. The juxtaposition of the smooth, organic forms against the textured surfaces of the paintings creates a striking contrast that embodies the complexities and contradictions of the human relationship with nature.

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