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Art Basel Miami Beach: Interview with Adriana Varej„o

AFN: This is, Sabine Rieck. I am here at Art Basel Miami Beach 2006, at the booth of Lehmann Maupin, NY. I am in a very nicely tiled part of the booth; it is a Solo Show from Adriana Varej„o.

Adriana, hello.

Adriana Varej„o: Hello.

AFN: In your work, tiles seem to play a big role. Could you explain us the reason for this special interest?

Adriana Varej„o: Tiles can be understood as a support for the geometry of the world; it is possible to perceive them in many different ways, according to the perspective. I choose it as a subject because all the paintings are figurative. I choose swimming pools so that I can deal with the geometry that tiles are involved in - and water. I do not work predominantly with tiles; it is rather the trompe l'oeil I am interested in. My work deals essentially with geometry.

AFN: In your earlier works, there were tiles with incisions, and behind that: flesh. So I got the impression that the theme of the body is very important for you. Is that correct? Could you tell us more?

Adriana Varej„o: Tiles are a medium or symbol of different things. I use them as a medium of cultural exchanges. For example: when I opt for a Portuguese topic, I use tiles from the baroque period. But now, tiles became totally different. They became geometry.

AFN: So we don't need to think about the flesh behind the tiles anymore?

Adriana Varej„o: I don't know, you can think whatever you want. I think that this ambience is very mysterious in a way. The water is moving, so you know there is a movement. The pictures imply something like a labyrinth. There is solitude in it. They can be very scary in a way, and I think they also create a certain erotic atmosphere: There is a presence of the body which is not there, but there are places where the body should be. There is a virtual body.

AFN: It is very interesting that, you integrated the body flesh in your earlier works, but not anymore - as directly as before - in these works here. It is still there in a way because the water is moving, but you don't know if there are people in another part of the pool. When I first saw the solo show here, I had a strong feeling of suspense. I heard another visitor saying the works were very positive, but I think that the suspense theme is much stronger.

Adriana Varej„o: I created many of them in Budapest where I visited a lot of public baths which are just amazing. So I made many of these paintings there, and also in Japan.

AFN: And the titles of the paintings?

Adriana Varej„o: I decided that at the beginning of this series. First I was thinking about something like "virtual ambience"..., but this title was very cold, so I began to work with titles referring to different types of characters like 'The obsessive', 'The sedative', 'The perverse'... This has a more erotic implication. As I mentioned earlier: there is the presence of somebody you don't see but who is there.

AFN: That's interesting, because usually, if you think of tiles, you associate them with a very clinical environment, but here they refer to so much more. I would like to know how you see your work in terms of history of art, in comparison with other artists.

Adriana Varej„o: I am a painter. I used to paint flesh a lot. There is a tradition of painters who like to paint flesh. It started with Goya, Humbra and so on. In Spanish, it is called 'pintura de bodegon'. There are games and other things they paint. It is very plastic.
So yes, at one point, I belong to this very old tradition of art. But my art also wants to deal with parody, criticise history. So I use - for instance - the art history of Brazil: I use the same old painters but to tell different stories, and I mix elements and create fictions. My earlier work of maybe 12 years ago used to deal with that but these works here are less political.

AFN: Thank you very much for this interview.

Adriana Varej„o: Thank you. It was a pleasure.

Interview: Sabine Rieck

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