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  • Gavin O'Donoghue


Albertz Benda Gallery presents Brazilian artist Larissa de Souza's first U.S. solo exhibition from February 9 – March 18, 2023. New York.

'Paredes Que Contam Histórias' translates to 'Walls That Tell Histories' and features a collection of twelve acrylic paintings. In the exhibition, de Souza observes domestic scenes exploring family dynamics, femineity, and the fabric of society.

Larissa explores theses of inequality, identity, and familial love in Brazil.

Drawing inspiration from the everyday architecture of Northeastern Brazil, colorful façades decorated by elaborate, geometric designs repeats throughout these paintings. Patibandas, decorative architectural details that adorn the tops of buildings, are transformed into portals that provide glimpses into the future. In Sessao da tarde, the patibandas shows the woman, no longer absorbed by the TV, looking into a handheld mirror— a redemptive act of self-representation and a symbolic conclusion.

The depicted figures are informed by de Souza's personal and intuitive spirituality. Working far outside a strictly religious narrative, the artist finds moments of truth within found everyday objects, including the small rocks and shells that adorn the surfaces of her canvases.

Altogether, the works in Paredes Que Contam Histórias present an overarching narrative of soulful resilience grounded in quotidian beauty. Dichotomies between happiness and ambivalence, timelines and presence, and individual and collective experience animate the works and deepen their open-ended resonance.

Words from the Artist :

A black woman's home, like her heart, can hold pain and happiness. Daily life, slowly woven by the cadence of the days, perpetuates the secrets that color the walls with the marks of time. Dreams are confused with the cries of children, the hiss of boiling pots pass through the windows and season the streets, rituals of affection, like clothes that need repair, are sewn by ancient hands, and are renewed with each generation.

Paredes que Contam Histórias dignifies these warps and searches the memories collected in the Brazilian popular imagination and in the unconscious of the artist Larissa de Souza in search of the experiential and symbolic virtues kept in the intuition of dark women who live cloistered in their hidden worlds.

Like a prayer, this series of twelve works chants a supreme devotion to feminine and popular architecture. Devotion nourished by the artist who, with painting, builds dreamlike houses that refer to the aesthetics of Platibandas - a form of colonial architecture disseminated from the 19th century onwards in the interior of Brazil.

Evoking the senses that expand beyond the visual and aesthetic elements, Larissa recreates genuine allegorical portals that cross us between sweet and indigestible subjects, adorned by sensitive bricolage that give life to shapes, colors, tastes, gestures, and sounds of homes made up predominantly of women.

By composing the works with delicate textures, the artist simulates walls that are sometimes peeled, sometimes covered in plaster, evoking the many symbolic layers that an old house can accommodate. Larissa manipulates materials common to civil construction, such as tiles and stones - applications that decorate what is hidden, revealing the complexities in the relationship between black women and space.

The artist nourishes her perceptions in the sensibilities of African traditions where the house has the importance of a living being that keeps the affective memories of a clan in its structure. With this ancestral understanding, she projects precious moments of intimacy as a kind of photo painting where a large breast sheds pearls, silent confessions spread while the beans are being picked, contradictions coming from television announce models of life incompatible with reality, racism, and sexism impose social norms that dictate how female behavior should be and the meeting of friends-lovers color love and loneliness.

In a confessional tone, like testimonies that escape the mouth, Paredes que Contam Histórias deals with the female experience within the domestic environment while contrasting, through metaphors, what these women would really like to live, like nebulous desires that insinuate dreams of hope.

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