A Continuous Transformation

Casa de Cultura Laura Alvim, Rio de Janeiro
Exhibition: February 8th to March 31st, 2019

I am very grateful… we are eternally indebted to our trees: for the water, for the wood, for the air. Our power of transmutation is amazing, like chameleons changing colour, all for survival! In our reflections we can even look at the past, but we must focus on light, on the future. The past can guide us but cannot define us; we will find the light is not at the end of the tunnel, we are the light!

I see nature and love in all elements of my work. Creativity calmly pervades me and this way I hear my inner voice: we create what we think, and we attract what we feel! I respect the DNA of the material, changing is part of the performance, like the chameleon, colour in a permanent motion. There is no knowledge of tomorrow; our present is a full asphyxia of the here and now: a dive into a new life!

I have always thought of changing, and today I say yes, I have transformed myself. I have been reborn for the best, I have grown, I have focused on what is really valuable. Meaning transforms us, it makes us see in a different way, and that is revolutionary. That is the power of transformation.

Renata Adler

As we enter Casa Laura Alvim, we are faced with Renata Adler’s latest ‘Camaleões’ (‘chameleons’), in the new individual exhibition by this emerging artist and sculptress from Rio de Janeiro. But this is not really about an acrobat animal that can point an eye to the ground and another to the sky, whose tongue springs forward to capture insects and that has a proverbial capacity to change colour. Her exhibition goes further and is called “A Continuous Transformation”.

Her ‘camaleões’ are fine columns made of turned wood housing different round and plane shapes, and partly painted. Some metallic elements or small mirrors appear occasionally, challenging the verticality of the piece. They spring from the ground, fall like rain from the ceiling or seem to pierce the walls, evoking the rhythm of the lances found in “The Battle of San Romano”, painted by Paolo Uccello around 1456. With their parallel, perpendicular and oblique lines, Renata’s ‘camaleões’ compose a set of straight lines whose vanishing point disappears from view, plunging the spectator into this exhibition-installation. The resulting ensemble vibrates in a generally white atmosphere, going from the windows that connect us to the energy of Ipanema beach to the dark rooms that invite the viewer to focus on the sculptures and on a video projected on a bronze tissue wall.

The transformations proposed by Renata Adler are part of her artistic and philosophical questionings: motion, change, integration and synchronization, with all the risks and uncertainties generated by this type of work. Motion plays an essential role in the Aristotelian ontology that inspires the artist, as it drove the philosopher to recognize “the several senses of being.” For the early Greeks, motion corresponded to flux, to the indefinite, the unlimited… to unfathomable chaos.

Looking at her work, we cannot help thinking of lingams. As we dive into symbols, and more specifically those related to Indian culture, the lingam, always erect and therefore a potential creator, is often associated with the yoni (‘place’), a symbol of the goddess Shakti and of female energy. In this case, their union represents, as Shiva, the wholeness of the world. Assuming the creative function through the lingam and the traditional destructive function, Shiva represents, therefore, the ultimate god. Renata clarifies: “It is all a matter of transformation to me. In my chameleons, I dare evoke freely the “Anima e Animus” that Carl Gustav Jung refers to in his “The I and the Unconscious”. As an artist, as a woman, I speak about my masculine side, and about my pleasure in facing a physical sculptor’s work, even if the _nal result of my work, with its turned, plump woods underlined by colourful painted rings, is frankly feminine.”

Renata Adler takes us far in her transformation games, and the myth of Prometheus could also be an allegory for this work. Indeed, it features the two inseparable dimensions of the human condition: that of the conquest and adventure of Man drawing his own path, but also that of the ancestral fear of transgression, of trying to rival with the gods. In reality, we already observe that this permanent tension between freedom without limits to the glory of Man and an attachment to nature within its own borders is present in Humanistic culture, hence the difficulty in recognizing those limits… But fear today derives, on the one side, from an amazing scientific and technological power, and on the other side from what is now called a “crisis of the future”, that is, our difficulty in thinking an ever more uncertain world, where the ideology of continued progress is far from obvious. The works of Renata Adler presented in Rio de Janeiro’s Casa Laura Alvim wish to invite the public to reflect on a world under perpetual transformation.

Marc Pottier

The Path of the Planets

Two exhibitions in Rio de Janeiro
Hotel Santa Teresa Gallery M – August 17 to October 16, 2017
Parque das Ruínas – September 2 to 25, 2017

It is not just by chance that Renata Adler tries to appropriate in her work the formula of the renowned eighteenth-century French philosopher Lavoisier, who is also often said to be the father of modern chemistry: “Nothing is lost, everything is transformed.”

This is because one of Lavoisier’s most important research projects involved determining the nature of combustion or of rapid oxidation. What matters to Renata is precisely the energy in the reaction of matter. In Renata’s sculptures made of iron or other materials, there is a provocation of the state of matter that contributes to chemical revolutions, sometimes technical, experimental or epistemological. Without hesitation she typically uses unusual elements, such as coffee, adding another sensorial dimension. If in the artwork Mundos Entrelaçados (Interlaced Worlds) she chose not to interact with the materials used, allowing them to change without any interference, in Planetas (Planets) she painted delicate and colorful landscapes that will evolve over time. There is a desire to speak of “impressions” even if her works are not impressionistic in the sense of the word. This is because, in addition to the dialogue between matter and painting, she also loves light, manifest in Planetas in which she discreetly placed LEDs lights behind the worked plates. It draws heavily on a critique of Claude Monet’s work that read: “Claude painted what he saw. If he saw wind, he would put wind in his pictures.” She tries to introduce the cosmos.

It was precisely this work on the energy of matter that caught my attention when, in one of my habitual visits to artists’ studios, I discovered the works of this artist, who is now emerging with her first exhibition.

Renata has flirted with the art world from an early age. She has always loved painting and photography, and even developed her own photos, but she ended up becoming attracted to sculpture. The solar system has always fascinated her. This is why the exhibition “The Path of the Planets” speaks of a life experience that transcends the present. I find it interesting how she emphasizes this: “my head seems to be in the stars, on the other hand, my feet are firmly stuck to the ground”.

The word cosmos comes from the Latin cosmos (world), which in turn comes from the ancient Greek kósmos (order, ordered), and by extension, the order of the Universe. The planets, galaxies, and stars of Renata’s works not only speak of everything that exists but also try to propose a philosophy that evokes a Universe as a well-organized system. At a time when new generations are hunched over with their eyes glued to screens, she would like to invite them to lift their heads and look up at the sky that many of us neglect. She wants to offer a voyage that links the Earth’s energies.

Getting inspiration from the way nature crafted the margins of a creek that ran near her childhood home, she tries to express through the living matter she uses in her works the little microcosms of Mankind in opposition to the macrocosms of the Universe.

“For me, everything is a matter of energy and I constantly refer to ‘chakras’,” says Renata. “If today this word is better known to mean points where energy channels converge, this term, in fact, comes from Sanskrit and refers to disc-shaped objects, including the sun. In the past, in India, these were metal discs, including gold, copper, or iron, materials I like to use. The main chakras are associated with color, and when I observe myself, green, a symbol of a beating heart, air, and mystery, is the first to appear. So rather unconsciously, I expose this umbilical cord in my work linking the life of Man to the mysteries of the Cosmos.”

Colors are very important to her. As Kandinsky said: “Colors are the keys, the eyes are the hammers and the soul is the piano with its strings.” Forms and colors are not the results of simple associations of arbitrary ideas, but of an interior experience that, in Renata’s abstract paintings, refers to the senses. She usually works on previously drawn forms to which she adds colors, observing its subjective effect. She allows shapes and colors to interact in their own alchemy. Her intention is not to say that these are scientific or objective observations, but rather that they are totally subjective and purely phenomenological.

As Renata says, “Everything is a matter of transformation.” In Camaleões (Chameleons), she dares to evoke spontaneously “Anima and Animus” referred to by Carl Gustav Jung in his work “The Relations Between the Ego and the Unconscious.” As an artist and as a woman, she speaks of her masculine side and of her pleasure when she has to come face to face with the physical demands of a sculptor’s work, even if her work, well rounded lathed woodwork highlighted by rings of painted color, is frankly feminine.

Underlying Renata’s works, however, are the transformations she likes to talk about, the connections between the Earth of Mankind and the Infinity of the Universe, wherein lie all the fundamental questions that we ask ourselves. In a vast process of apparent disenchantment with a world where humanity is no longer at the center, nor the end, and not even a privileged species at the top of the evolutionary tree, what relations can we expect between Nature and Humanity? Are we facing an absurd Universe, as Sartre’s existentialism proclaims, or is it perhaps necessary to wait for the end of a crisis of cosmic mutation that will give rise to a new and positive relationship between the Universe and Humanity? And what if the end of our human illusions, so excessive, helps to reunite us with reality and establish an enriching relationship with nature and the immensity of the Cosmos?

Marc Pottier