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The Lookout: Adriana Varejão
Art in America

Rio de Janeiro-based artist Adriana Varejão’s work will find new audiences this summer during the 2016 Olympics. She’s making a large mural for the aquatic center. A show at Lehmann’s Lower East Side outpost, her sixth with the gallery, combines two powerful bodies of work. One group includes twenty-nine self-portraits, each with face paint or adornments drawn from her research into Native American culture. Some also have imagery from postwar art. The effects are both jarring and oddly familiar, recalling the nineteenth-century portraits of Native Americans that served both aesthetic as well as anthropological aims; Varejão’s twist is approaching contemporary art as both appropriator and ethnographer. In her “Mimbres” series of paintings, the artist explores the visual culture of a people that lived in the American Southwest in the eleventh century through cracked monochromes. Titled “Kindred Spirits,” the exhibition hints at formal similarities between geometric forms used by indigenous peoples and those of twentieth-century Minimalism. —Lindsay Pollock