Felipe Scovino on Marina Rheingantz

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The title of Marina Rheingantz’s recent exhibition “Sedimentar” (Sedimentary) alludes to an image present throughout the artist’s nearly twenty-year career: the dissolution or suspension of solid materials in a liquid. Through their dispersion of forms, her paintings’ watery atmosphere is soft and fluid. In Suspiro (Sigh; all works 2022), small dynamic brushstrokes construct a tranquil surface made up of islands of color. While not exactly a gloomy painting, it carries a sense of mystery and apprehension. The light that permeates the canvas, particularly its upper region, resembles a fog that partially obliterates a depiction of a distant building. The artist gravitates toward the contradictions that arise from transitional images that seem to simultaneously appear and dissolve.

Rheingantz looks to the disintegrating reflections in Claude Monet’s late work, also culling from the lineage of twentieth-century modernist painting that followed. Cy Twombly’s use of whitish backgrounds and the lack of any sense of gravity in his paintings, for instance, are apt points of comparison drawn by critic Tiago Mesquita in an essay that accompanied the show. Mesquita picks up on the similarity between Rheingantz’s atmospheric spaces and Twombly’s white grounds but might also have mentioned the graphic similarity between the small units of color that appear as if aimlessly in her work and Twombly’s scrawled, illegible glyphs. This affinity is especially evident in Rastro (Trace), a nearly mural-size painting in which forms seem to rise up from the bottom. Minuscule brushstrokes scattered across the canvas assemble a landscape made up of gaps and erasures. While no discernible figure or natural element is present in this fractured image, it conveys the sense of a swampy setting. With their liquid forms, these paintings are primarily invested in exposing the impermanence of all things.

Rheingantz studies landscapes—both painted and actual—with dedicated intensity and translates these observations into fragmented and diluted paintings. Her pulsating brushstrokes delve into detailed minutiae, as in Flyways, where her dialogue with Brazilian modernist Alberto da Veiga Guignard (1896–1962)—who was known for his depictions of landscapes and popular festivals, often with vague fluctuating forms—is particularly palpable. In a grayish-blue atmosphere, at times very dark, buildings, churches, and balloons expose what critic Paulo Sérgio Duarte calls a phenomenology of appearances. Rheingantz’s paintings also have something in common with those of Mark Rothko—their way of capturing a moment of emergence, when things have not yet found their definitive place in the terrain. Flyways belongs to that embryonic state, as the forms that slowly and seemingly randomly spread throughout the canvas remain diffuse. The artist constructs a temporality that appears to decelerate the landscape she evokes. These constellations of wandering and unresolved forms offered welcome respite from the noisy and hurried times in which we live.

Translated from Portuguese by Cliff Landers.

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