Artist Solange Pessoa's solo exhibition threads together North and South America

The Brazilian artist's exhibition Longilonge at Ballroom Marfa in Texas would display nature-inspired installations, paintings, drawings, ceramics and soapstone.

by Sukanya Garg Oct 29, 2019

Longilonge refers to an invented word often found in the poetry of Brazilian poet Carlos Drummond de Andrade. Brazilian artist Solange Pessoa re-purposes this word to evoke a distant space or time, a longing for the unreachable, a sort of mythical place for feelings and memories, a region of temporal textures.

Solange Pessoa Untitled, from Dionisia series, 2017 | Longilonge| Solange Pessoa | STIRworld
Solange Pessoa, Untitled, from Dionisia series, 2017, soapstone 12 5/8 x 39 3/4 x 29 1/2 inches, courtesy of Blum & Poe and Mendes Wood DM Image Credit: Bruno Leão

The exhibition with the same name then presents Pessoa’s first solo museum exhibition in the United States, perhaps evoking a distant land not just distant in feeling this time, but in the actual physicality of her work’s display.

Solange Pessoa Ão-Ão, 2017 Bronze, fabric, feathers, hair | Longilonge| Solange Pessoa | STIRworld
Solange Pessoa Ão-Ão, 2017, bronze, fabric, feathers, hair 25 x 21 x 18 inches Edition of 2, 1AP, courtesy of Blum & Poe and Mendes Wood DM Image Credit: Josh White

Working across mediums, including painting, drawing, installation, sculpture and video, the exhibition presents new works by the artist that responds to the cultural and natural landscape in West Texas, alongside important existing pieces made in Minas Gerais, Brazil, where the artist lives and works. The show will display five distinct oeuvres of work, together creating a connect between the place she is from and the place where the show is taking place.

Solange Pessoa Ão-Ão, 2017 Bronze, fabric, feathers | Longilonge| Solange Pessoa | STIRworld
Solange Pessoa, Ão-Ão, 2017, bronze, fabric, feathers 40 x 26 x 24 inches, courtesy of Blum & Poe and Mendes Wood DMImage Credit: Josh White

Pessoa derives inspiration from the nature surrounding her hometown, Minas Gerais in Brazil. The rich natural landscape including botanical imagery, Baroque architecture, celestial views and soapstone mines of the place have trickled down her imagination, resulting in works which are often made up of organic and unconventional materials ranging from hair, leaves, oil, wax, minerals, blood, powders, pigments, roots, plants, fruits, coffee, moss, seeds, eggs, bones and lot more. Consequently, her works are often so visceral and evocative of nature itself that it is hard to perceive them as man-made art. Not only does she immerse herself in the art of material investigation, she also has an almost innate ability to alchemize the inorganic into the organic. Her art is almost a study of nature itself.

Solange Pessoa Untitled, from Mimesma series, 2017 | Longilonge| Solange Pessoa | STIRworld
Solange Pessoa, Untitled, from Mimesma series, 2017, soapstone 8 5/8 x 29 7/8 x 16 1/2 inches, courtesy of Blum & Poe and Mendes Wood DM Image Credit: Bruno Leão

For this exhibition, Pessoa will recreate a seminal installation originally staged in Brazil in 1994 that has not been seen since. In this immersive sculpture, tiers of coffee bags are sewn together, suspended from the ceiling, and filled with fruit, flowers, seeds, bones, earth, and poems. Visitors are invited to rifle through this abundant hanging wall of materials, spilling, adding and co-creating with the sculpture itself. This phenomenological and sensual work engages viewers directly with the living land of West Texas - its colours, textures, decay and richness - while recalling the original work in Brazil from decades before. In this way, Pessoa draws a link between North and South America through the visual imagery of her work, linking the two across time and space.

Solange Pessoa Untitled, from the series Mundão I, 2018-2019 | Solange Pessoa | STIRworld
Solange Pessoa, Untitled, from the series Mundão I, 2018-2019, mineral pigment on canvas 34 5/8 x 37 1/8 inches, courtesy of Mendes Wood DM Image Credit: Bruno Leão

While Pessoa’s installations take on the flux and chaos of living materials, her monochromatic paintings and drawings elegantly distill the graphic essence of animals, insects, leaves, plants, and flowers. Often rendered with minerals, clay, or oils and dyes from native Brazilian plants, these compositions simultaneously evoke both ancient pictographs and Modernist painting.

Solange Pessoa Untitled, from the series Mundão I, 2018-2019 | Solange Pessoa | STIRworld
Solange Pessoa, Untitled, from the series Mundão I, 2018-2019, mineral pigment on canvas 34 5/8 x 37 1/8 inches, courtesy of Mendes Wood DM Image Credit: Bruno Leão

Additionally, new ceramic pieces and existing soapstone carvings will populate the galleries. These natural materials, sourced in Brazil, are wrested from the landscape, then shaped and carved to recall varied organic forms: vaginal voids, nipples, phalli, skulls, spirals, ancient fossils. The soapstone pieces will occupy the outdoor courtyard where they can be seen from all angles, their soft, hand-carved curves open to the sun and the rain. Bronze and feathered wall sculptures will adorn the hallway, simultaneously monumental and ephemeral, invoking the animal body - its death, life and decoration.

This exhibition at Ballroom Marfa is curated by Laura Copelin and opens for viewing on November 15, 2019. It will remain on display until April 19, 2020.

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About Author

Sukanya Garg

Sukanya Garg

Garg is an artist and writer with a Master's degree in Public Policy from Duke University, USA. She has been involved in research, planning and execution of gallery exhibitions and external projects in collaboration with curators. Her writing has been published in several art magazines, journals and as part of curatorial notes and catalogues, and her work has been showcased at multiple exhibitions.

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