To draw is to start working. - Vânia Mignone
“I raise castles”...., “I'm glad we are alive” …, “I won't come back”. With these expressions or words we are invited to enter the world of the work of Vânia Mignone. The compositions, with letters arranged on surfaces that can be collages, painting on collage, with their patches and crudities, combined with objects, characters that nothing clarify about their meaning, refer to advertising billboard. Vânia, however, proposes to us another world, in which her compositions reveal themselves as riddles for the observer. We are perhaps facing the subtext, the in-between the lines, or the dimension of our lives, not told, nor necessarily revealed, but there. As in the famous novel by James Joyce, Ulysses, her works seem to put ourselves in the place of Leopold Bloom and in the narratives that are made of the thought, of an inner life, while the character moves around Dublin . A mixture of elements of the city, of everyday references interwoven in subtleties and somewhat whimsical constructions that cause to emerge circus characters, animals, home environment, scenes of movies, and so on.
To create this repertory, Vânia seeks references on dance, in her first training in advertising, and on cinema. Before her choice for visual arts, the artist was, from very little, trained as a dancer and soon became interested in contemporary dance. Hence, she can certainly take her mastery of space, thinking of it as a stage or scenario. Antonio Gade and Pina Bausch are names she reminds of, when speaking precisely of colors, and of form as the expression of a subjective dimension. We could speak about an evolution of her work, in the sense of choreography, since her compositions, in small or large formats, are not preliminarily outlined. Regardless of some of her large-format paintings, she starts on the modular surface of an MDF board, and as the composition takes shape, the artist will put it together like a puzzle. The space of her studio is small, simple, with a bench on which the artist works drawing and painting on raw MDF, one by one, only to later join them together.
When starting out as an artist, her first production was with woodcut in which she saw the opportunity to extend and exploit drawing, and work with surfaces of color. The academic drawing, the practice of printmaking and collages and paintings are, for her, unfolding of the drawing exercise. Traces of graphite, the paths of the woodcut gouges, MDF amendments and the collages cutouts all seem to join her understanding about it and her inseparable relationship with painting. In this sense, the colors play a key role, in their condensed presence on large surfaces, their material and raw appearance, and their sensitive dimension. Besides that, the artist doesn't hide nor simulates any of the material used. Her choice for MDF, using paper already printed with art publications, for example – at times, she tore pages of monographs of great artists from a known publisher to make her collages – has to do with her love for the rudimentary, for surfaces that keep their flaws and errors. There is, thus, a tension between what is kept in the final composition and what has been erased. The materials with which she works also allude to everyday life, elements of the street: the MDF board works, then, as the street sign, commercial advertising, billboards, etc. Materials that would be wasted, thrown away, are those that interest her, for they maintain this tension.
Like the composition for an orchestra that is born from its author sitting at the piano, this is how Vânia Mignone's works arise: from the minimal elements, we see the different musical suits/nuances, the harmonies and melodic phrasing, building for us unusual composition, which appeal for an inner life. When asked if she believes that her work has a feminine character, Vânia says yes, to the extent that they speak directly to the emotions of people, and despite (or because of) the crudeness of the composition, they keep a certain delicacy.
Vânia Mignone emerged in major exhibitions of contemporary Brazilian art precisely 20 years ago, when she participated of group exhibitions such as “Antártica Artes com a Folha” and the exhibition programm of Centro Cultural São Paulo. In 1999 she was one of the artists chosen for the Panorama of Brazilian Art of MAM, and in 2002, she figured in the São Paulo special room for the 25 th Bienal de São Paulo. Since then, she has been holding exhibitions on Brazil and abroad. What we propose here is an overview of her work throughout two decades.
© 2014 Museu de Arte Contemporânea da Universidade de São Paulo