“Brazil has a very good lesson to teach because here we have a mix of cultures; with Africa and the European culture,” the artist Adriana Varejão said in 2016. Drawing from her country’s hybrid culture, Varejão attempts to “decolonize” her paintings and ceramic installations with a slew of references that come from beyond the border and across the ocean. For instance her interest in azulejos—glazed terracotta tiles that originated in North Africa and were brought to Brazil by foreigners—inspired her “tile” paintings. In these, a canvas is coated with liquid plaster and while drying develops fissures across its surface—organic webs and veins—that recall the ancient Arabic origins of these tiles. Varejão then paints upon the crackled surface. In this new series, Varejão takes inspiration from the Mexican ceramics of Talavera, which were in turn inspired by ancient China and the Spanish Baroque. This is Varejão’s first exhibition in New York. —C.J.F.
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