APPEARANCES THAT ARE NOT DECEIVING
If we were to draw a sphere of references for the work of Maria Lynch, in the spirit of the free and anachronistic collages of Aby Warburg (1) we would be able to navigate through classical, modern and contemporary history, following different associations, both immediate and plausible. Thus, from the Venus of Botticelli to Gauguin's Fauvism; from the simplicity of Rousseau to the strong and sensual colours of Matisse; from Arcimboldo's absurd constructions to Miró's playful signs, or even, more recently, from the exuberant and hybrid figures of Janaína Tschäpe to the childlike imagination of Donald Baechler, we would be able to compose a vast range of historic insinuations to be reinterpreted in Lynch's paintings, sculptures, photographs, and videos.
The goal of revisiting this disjointed list is to reinvigorate the ever-present memory of the past that always informs and is reinstated in the contemporary world, as acknowledged by postmodern people. And, after all, from the expanded body of the references we mentioned is subtracted a common repertoire which touches, simultaneously, all of them: intense chromaticism, clear outlines, primitive or unconscious imagination, simple shapes and praise of nature. Therefore, we are talking about a family, of affinities surrounding the production of Maria Lynch which create in her work a link in the thread of history.
The artist, however, imposes individual particularities which personify and differentiate her from her peers from the past. Starting with abusive chromatic intensity, with very shocking contrasts, in surfaces and shapes which, however, are combined without any conflict. A purple-haired figure can come out of a completely blue and round garment, immersed in a flat orange background, and pervaded by plants in various shades of green and red. Thus, Lynch's painting is, above all, chromatic power.
Her iconography, on the other hand, focuses on certain recurring elements, such as the female body, landscapes, organic shapes and everyday urban objects. It has been said that the figures of the artist, in a process resulting from postmodernism, includes, besides the natural elements, the city, the computer, advertising, stereotypes, and the industry. (2) In Maria Lynch's territory, everything seems to be a fabulous aggregation of reality and fiction, in non-linear narratives, whose events are no more than glimpses of impossible situations and characters. Everything is curved, round and tactile: a world where no straight line can be found, where things intertwine, merge, swallow each other or are expelled from one another.
In Lynch's current paintings, a female figure insists in “appearing” through its absence, like a ghost or a white figure wandering above or below the fields of colour, apart from the brushstrokes around it. Unfinished and incorporeal, the figure, however, is able to win over the explosive chromaticism surrounding it, imposing itself to the eyes of the viewer like an absolute catalyst. The only image “erased” from the picture becomes almost sovereign, as if suggesting the paradox of a character at the same time protagonist and secondary, or someone who fought to stand out among a dominating atmosphere. In larger works, most of which feature a black background, the empty female body seems even more immaterial or incongruous, given the contiguous presence of many other dense circulating shapes contrasting with the darkness of the background.
Also present in the exhibition, Maria Lynch's sculptures reveal similarities with her paintings; in previous works, she had already created lumps and volumes coming out of the flat surface, in works she classifies as “spatial paintings related with architecture.” (3) The texture of the paint, which was becoming denser and denser and the colourful shapes themselves, which were combined in different plains and depths on the canvas, announced a leap into the real world. Lynch seemed to foresee the demand of these events for larger physical expansion, as if the characters and colour spots asked for direct contact with the world.
In 2009, she started to create sculptures using pieces of padded fabric and foam sewn onto one another in delirious clumps, as if introducing a sort of Tropicalista surrealism. Displayed on the floor, on walls, or by means of performance, these beings assume, on the one hand, the naïve narrative of fairy tales or animated films, but, on the other, a terrible atmosphere of living creatures, beasts or threatening and unknown monsters. Colour, however, remains central in her constructions, keeping the artist always focused on the universe of painting, as happened before with the sculptures of Miró, Calder, Dubuffet and Oiticica, which kept the playful and dream-like spirit of colour in volume and space.
The masterpiece of this type of articulation was created in 2012, when Maria Lynch made a large installation at Paço Imperial, Rio de Janeiro, occupying floors, walls and the ceiling with padded fabrics, in an intricate and chaotic tangle of objects and colours, where the viewer was launched into an amazing sensory experience. A mix of child's play and sexual experience, with touches of naivety, fear and pornography, the installation resembled both Carnival and horror movies.
Maria Lynch's imagery fits very coherently into several media and, in this exhibition, she also presents a video performance in which she haphazardly moves around picking up and wearing pieces of padded fabrics, wearing them like prosthetics, until she becomes one more character in her own wonderland. The video takes place in the house where the artist was born and spent her childhood, evoking traces of affective memory, which interests and permeates all of her works.
With a poetics bordering the fantasy genre and being part of a universe populated by unusual and amorphous entities, Lynch subverts established systems of logic and the discourse of rationality, at the same time as she camouflages the critical acidity of her work with festive praise of colour and a playful mask of “toys.” The whole work seems, after all, to resemble the empty white women of the painting, those who simultaneously expose and conceal statements, who say the unsaid.
(1) Aby Warburg was the creator of the iconological method in Germany in the 1920s, with famous disciples such as Erwin Panofsky. He established as strategy for analysis an “art history without text,” which functioned by means of anachronistic juxtaposition and collage of images taken from any field of knowledge and different art forms, which he sensed as interrelated.
(2) We refer to Guilherme Bueno's text, “Nous vivons dans l’oubli de nos métamorphoses,” published in the brochure of Maria Lynch's exhibition at H.A.P Galeria, in 2010.
(3) Artist's statement to the author.