Adriana Rocha



Work on this series began in January 2002 and went on throughout the year; Adriana was busy with these large canvasses until almost the eve of this exhibition’s opening. Everything suggests that her work in this direction has more to offer. These are reiterated procedures of accumulation and loss, densification and depletion, which she has been using for a long time in a developing language that is now approaching maturity. There is this constant to and too, ebb and flow, now covering, now uncovering, in which she develops the poetics in her work; this potentiality of form that she embraces its opposition to common sense, allowing meaning to flow in multiple directions.

From Adriana’s point of view, “interest in the use of the image, its belonging within painting and the consequent quest tor a space within the work that could contain it, were always the creative extremes in my work.” She admits, “this search is problematic, especially it we recall the way it has evolved since the Renaissance (or before event) through to contemporary art, but understandable it we bear in mind that representation has never ceased to hold a certain fascination. ”She problematizes the survival of the image in painting and ultimately works with the ambiguity of painting itself in a mass media world. ln the long term, she admits that representation exerts an attraction, or seduction, to which the individual or’ today will surrender - even in the face of simulacra.

The crisis in painting started in the middle 9th century with the invention of photography and was aggravated by developments in photographic technique and other means of reproducing images, such as cinema and video. Within painting, analogical representation lost ground and was initially deconstructed, then abolished by avant-garde artists who were increasingly interested in the visual and chromatic relationships involved in pictorial creation. Representing the visible is no longer a commitment tor painting, however, representation resisted to be banished and returned to painting with the incorporation of photography from Cubist collages, and in works by Dadaists and Surrealists, through to the great absorption 3: images from mass culture posed by Pop Art. At the end of the 20th century, photography goes its own back by assuming a prominent position in the visual arts. Its participation in this universe is ambiguous.

Adriana Rocha’s work is a good example of the complexity of this field where there is currently an intertwining of painting, photography and many other visual production media. The paintings immediately draw one because of the presence of images, which the visible world is recognized, that are submitted to a pictorial treatment in nuances and textures in a way that recalls classic or traditional painting. ln fact, what seeing results from a combination of traditional techniques, such as glazing, and no traditional ones such as photography, transfer, hot stamp, and abrasive treatments, Adriana working on a canvass by applying a layer of black. The insipid mist or fog that gradually covers most of her paintings will emerge from this black backdrop. Within this mist consisting of thin layers superimposed, eroded here and there to allow a glimpse of previously deposited colors, there float phantasmagoric images taken from Adriana’s own photographs, or from old images cut from newspapers that have been enlarged and transferred to the new support. Anyone perusing these large pictures (up to 3 meters long) will notice reticulations corresponding to the edges of A4 pages printed one after another to recompose the divided image on the canvass. During this rather artisanal process of transfer, clarity is lost and only depleted images remain.

What perturbs the Observer more than the evanescent appearance of the figures is having nowhere to anchor them, The boys, the young woman, and the faces all appear loose, or isolated, lacking any contextual references, Characters are disconnected from the narrative that traditional painting usually suggests; figures are lost in themselves, immobilized in time, as if entranced. ln the views, boats frozen near the horizon and the empty gallery all seem to be under the spell too. In capturing people and scenes floating outside history, Adriana proposes the suspension of connections, a non-place, a kind of limbo where figures emerge as tattered memories.

In this series, that which melts into the air contrasts with that which resists. ln other words, the “vitality” of the image remains despite the adverse Circumstances to which it was submitted, particularly when the photographic image is involved - as it is in most of the works in this series. Note that Roland Barthes’ essay on The Rhetoric of the Image drew attention to the testimonial character of photography and how this ability to record real life established a new spatial—temporal category. This is because photography does not involve a consciousness of being there (which any copy could trigger), but of having been there. This explains why viewing a photograph leads us to think that this person was like that, or this fact existed. This connection to real life, although it has already disappeared, it is as powerful as the photographic images, even though depleted, always leads to a reality, even though it be inaccessible.

lt is on the tangent between permanence and loss that Adriana causes her painting. ln her pictures there hovers a certain nostalgia for the integrity of the image (perhaps the nostalgia for painting and the world it represented) combined with the exploration of the limits of her recognition, of her powers of persuasion.

From the original in Portuguese by Maria Alice Milliet, 2003