Wash, Sweep, Tilt, Drip, Peel: Renata Egreja’s Everyday Idyll

In Renata Egreja’s recent exhibition “Idílio” at São Paulo’s Zipper Galeria, a structure sat in the center of the gallery. From inside, light streamed through its painted surface, casting a green glow upon the interior space. It was shaped like the simplest evocation of a home, with four walls and a peaked roof almost like a child’s drawing. Such a familiar form rooted an exhibition of works that celebrate, in subject and in making, the very elements that make up everyday existence. 

To create some of her larger canvases, Egreja begins by applying washes of bright color. Using the loose strokes of a squeegee that she drags across the wet surface, she blends the paint in such a way so that it almost obscures itself as its original colors melt into other hues. Then she tilts the canvas and allows the paint to drip over across the painting’s surface, before adding organic shapes or peeling away tape to reveal crisp stripes of color underneath. Drips of color and paint splatters call to mind the city’s legendary graffiti and street art scene. While the resulting works are bright and cheerful, in these acts of playing with paint, Egreja reflects the contrast between deliberate actions and uncontrollable chaos, the very acts of creation and (self-) destruction inherent in everyday life.

In her playful watercolor paintings, Egreja celebrates nature with energetic renderings of flowers, raindrops and other natural forms. Their lightness and levity is a contrast to the more conceptual ideas behind the making of the larger acrylic-on-linen works. Together, however, the result, to borrow a line from one of her paintings, is an “atmosfera perfeita”: the perfect atmosphere.

Heather Corcoran