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Cybèle VarelaNovember 16, 2023 - January 21, 2024




November 16, 2023 – January 21, 2024

Opening Reception: Thursday, November 16, 5-8 PM

RICHARD TAITTINGER GALLERY is honored to present CONEXÃO the upcoming solo exhibition by celebrated Brazilian artist Cybèle Varela (b. 1943). This is her first solo show in the United States since her 1987 exhibition at the Art Museum of the Americas in Washington D.C. This exhibition is co-curated by Ariane Varela Braga and Richard F. Taittinger. The title—Conexão (Connection)—alludes to the points of intersection in Varela’s six- decade-long career of paintings focused on commentaries of nature, culture, and society.

Cybèle Varela CONEXÃO follows her recent exhibition Cybèle Varela, Pop Imaginaries at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MAC-USP) of São Paulo which celebrated Varela’s 80th birthday. Cybèle Varela, Pop Imaginaries follows the artist’s first retrospective in Basel, Switzerland which took place five years prior and was curated by Ana Magalhães, director of the MAC, and Ariane Varela.

Cybèle Varela began her career in the mid-1960s during Brazil’s heightened political climate. She became a prominent figure in the Tropicalismo and Brazilian Pop Art movements, creating work that critically reflected on Brazil’s society, political state, and gender roles. Throughout her sixty-year career, Varela’s work focused on representing society and humanity’s relationship to nature and urban environments.

1967 was a significant year for Varela. She received the Young Contemporary Art Award from MAC-USP and she participated in the São Paulo Biennale for the first time. There, her box- shaped object, O Presente (The Gift, 1967), made headlines for being removed by the DOPS (Department of Political and Social Order), a branch of the dictatorship responsible for censorship. This work was eventually destroyed and pushed Varela to explore new horizons.

Cybèle Varela left Brazil in 1968 for Paris where she became involved in the Narrative Figuration movement: “From distant Europe, Cybèle longed to connect with her homeland through the depiction of its gorgeous skies and landscapes in the 1980s and 1990s. In her canvases, sky, and earth intersect in an almost spiritual search for infinity, like Image (1987)” (Lenzi/Kawasima 2023, p. 212). She began focusing on the self-reflective representation of nature in a series of paintings, photographs, and videos titled “Images” (to be exhibited). Through this series, she questioned the ambiguous representation of appearance, “…nature is seen from a distance, as a sought-after but now almost inaccessible element. Varela emphasizes this remoteness through the subterfuge of the omnipresent shadows cast by window frames on the surface of the work” (Paris, Centre Pompidou). Her work was praised by major French critics including Pierre Restany, Jean Luc Chalumeau, Gérald Gassiot-Talabot, Jean- Jacques Lévêque, and Jean-Marie Dunoyer.

Varela was featured in the Narrative Figuration 60s-70s exhibition at Richard Taittinger Gallery from March to May 2021. Her work hung alongside works by Valerio Adami (1935), Eduardo Arroyo (1937-2018), Erró (1932), Gérard Fromanger (1939-2021), Jacques Monory (1924-2018), Bernard Rancillac (1931-2021), Peter Saul (1934), and Hervé Télémaque (1937-2022).

Cybèle Varela CONEXÃO showcases thirty-six significant works made by Varela from the 1970s through the early 1990s. It presents the stages in the artist’s career from the Narrative Figuration movement in Paris through the early 1990s.

Ariane explains, “At first sight, Varela’s paintings from the 1970s-1990s may seem different from her Brazilian Pop works of the 1960s and her most recent production. But this is only true at a superficial glance. The cutting and re-cutting of images that were to be found in her 1960s puzzles or large wood-panel triptychs, where sequence shots called into question the idea of a linear narrative, reappeared in the 1970s-1990s Images series.” (Lenzi/Kawasima 2023, p. 212).

Although she spent long periods in Geneva, Madrid, Rome, and Paris, her commitment to Brazilian culture, as well as the political, social, and cultural history of Latin America has never waned. Her memories of landscapes and people in Brazil remain at the core of her work. Varela says, “Many people say, ‘Ah, you’ve changed a lot!’, I didn’t change much, no! I had an evolution; I only changed some elements. I stayed true to myself.” (Lenzi/Kawasima 2023, p. 212).

Cybèle Varela CONEXÃO is on view at Richard Taittinger Gallery at 154 Ludlow street, New York until December 23rd 2023.

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Featured Artist(s)

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Cybèle Varela

Works and lives in Madrid, Spain ​​Born in Brazil in 1943, Cybèle Varela began painting at a young age, completed her formal art studies at the Rio de Janeiro Museum of Modern Art, and received the Young Contemporary Art Award...

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