19 - 21 October 2017, 7–9pm
The Sowden House, Los Angeles
Gagosian is pleased to announce a special event at the legendary John Sowden House by Adriana Varejão, one of Brazil's most renowned living artists. For three consecutive evenings, Varejão's four-channel video installation Transbarroco (2014) will play across the facade and in the central courtyard of this extraordinary heritage building. This U.S. première coincides with her first-ever West Coast exhibition, “Interiors,” at Gagosian Beverly Hills.
In sweeping cinematic takes of the sumptuous interiors of Brazilian Baroque churches, and an accompanying sound collage, Transbarroco points to key cultural influences in Varejão's oeuvre. Described by Varejão as “jewels of the mestizo Brazilian Baroque,” the four churches that appear in the film are among the most significant examples of local religious architecture of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries: the Church of San Francisco in Salvador, Bahia; the Third Order of Saint Francis in Rio de Janeiro; the Church of Saint Francis of Assisi in Ouro Preto; and the Cathedral of Mariana in Mariana, Minas Gerais. Transbarroco unfolds across four screens in scenes entitled Gold, The Blue, Sky and Earth, and China. Panning horizontally and vertically, the camera captures the diverse figures, surfaces, and sometimes incongruous elements that appear in the church interiors.
The soundscape that underscores the video installation is a collage of text, voices, sounds, and contrasting rhythms. Within the mix that combines the drumming of the Bahia-based collective Olodum, the music of the Mariana Cathedral organ, and ambient sounds captured during the filming—the voices of church guides, children playing, church bells, and fragments of samba music—the Angolan writer José Eduardo Agualusa reads an excerpt from Gilberto Freyre's Casa—Grande & Senzala (The Masters and the Slaves), which addresses the influence of the vernacular language of endearment used by black nannies towards the children in their care on the evolution of the Portuguese language in Brazil.
Transbarroco (detail), 2014, four-channel video installation © Adriana Varejão. Photo by Mauro Pinheiro.
Adriana Varejão was born in 1964 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where she lives and works. Major institutional exhibitions include “Azulejões,” Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, Rio de Janeiro and Brasília, Brazil (2001); “Chambre d’échos / Câmara de ecos,” Fondation Cartier pour l´art Contemporain, Paris (2005, traveled to Centro Cultural de Belém, Lisbon; and DA2, Salamanca, Spain); Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo (2007); “Adriana Varejão - Histórias às Margens,” Museu de Arte Moderna de São Paulo, Brazil (2012, traveled to Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; and Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (MALBA), Argentina in 2013); “Adriana Varejão,” The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (2014); and “Adriana Varejão: Kindred Spirits,” Dallas Contemporary (2015). She participated in the Bienal de São Paulo (1994, 1998); the 12th Biennale of Sydney (2000); the International Biennial Exhibition, SITE Santa Fe (2004); Liverpool Biennial (1999, 2006); Bucharest Biennale (2008); Istanbul Biennial (2011); “30x Bienal,” Fundação Bienal de São Paulo (2013); Bienal do Mercosul, Brazil (1997, 2005, 2015); and the first Bienal de Arte Contemporânea de Coimbra, Portugal (2015). In 2008, a permanent pavilion dedicated to Varejão’s art was inaugurated at Inhotim Centro de Arte Contemporânea, Brumadinho, Minas Gerais, Brazil. In 2016, she was commissioned to produce a temporary mural based on her epic work Celacanto provoca maremoto to cover the entire facade of the Centro Aquático for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
The John Sowden House was built in 1926 by Frank Lloyd Wright Jr., in Los Feliz on the border of Hollywood. The house is noted for its use of hand-cast, textile blocks and for its striking facade and internal layout, resembling a Mayan temple. The original owner was a painter and photographer who hired his friend, the eldest son of Frank Lloyd Wright to build a “home” that would serve as a performance and exhibition space for the emerging Hollywood artistic community. The house is constructed using concrete textile blocks and looks inward—both vital precursors to the development of modern (California) architecture.