Article | Líria Varne, in the thresholds where dream and reality collide

Carlos Martins de Jesus, PhD
Post-doctoral researcher FCT (Portugal)

We first met Líria in a cloudy and always grey city, in the past April 2013. But
the city that the artist’s canvas portray is not painted with the same traces that later in
time came to paint that cloudy and grey Berlin, just when the winter was about to get
to an end – take the examples of Unpolished Girl in S. Bahn and Kartoffelsalat, both
paintings of 2013, the result of an artistic residence of the painter in Berlin. The
portrayed city, still grey and cloudy, is rather São Paulo, the birth and living place of
the artist – and we are now considering specially the series of paintings Fragments of
an Urban Subjectivity. On them, we read the artist stating: “I paint the differences
and what bothers me in São Paulo, my city. This has always been my main theme,
with a research started in 1997.” Not innocently, the canvases on Berlin were included
in a different series, the so-called Dream and Reality.

Grey is one of the main colours used in these spaces, one of the main
impressions resulting from the representations of several symbolical places of São
Paulo; grey is the disturbing main colour in the cemetery that occupies the entire
canvas in Quem morre sorri (Who dies may smile), from 1997. Most of these spaces are
penetrated with the violence of strong traces of purple, probably the most identifiable
character of Liria’s works. It often embodies the colour of rain, which can be either
violent or soft, either submerging the individual characters of the paintings, either
threatening them with the promise of an always unsafe and almost inhumane
everyday life (e.g. Subviver – 50x40cm, vs. Choveu em SP – 20x20cm, both from 2012).
All of this is for sure very meaningful in a style that combines, in a very strong way,
the expressionist use of colour with reminiscences of late-cubist drawing.
A very special couplet of paintings was the sincere reason for us to write down
these lines: Chuva real [Real rain] (40x20cm) and Chuva sonho [Dream rain], both
very recent, from 2013.

74- Chuva real - Acrílico sobre tela - 40x20cm - 2013©
Chuva Real / Real Rain – Acrylic on canvas – 40x20cm – 2013
75- Chuva Sonho - Acrílico sobre tela - 40x20cm - 2013©
Chuva Sonho / Dream Rain – Mixed technique on canvas – 40x20cm – 2013

In both of them, the very same female figure, with her large and elegant red
umbrella. But only that, apart from some intentional trace coincidences, is the
common aspect in these paintings. Rain, in the first of them, no longer falls from the
sky – or at least that is not the important issue; it took charge of the entire groundspace,
the humane space; in it fluctuates the garbage of an entire society; the
vanquished sunk umbrella in the background of the painting actually reminds of
those who weren’t able to survive such rain, probably falling from the sky for so many
days already. Meanwhile, the same space is, in painting number two, occupied by
land-colours, thus giving back the human space (still a chaotic space?) to its legitimate
owners. The sky, rainy for sure, is now blue, which makes possible to look up and
dream. Such a contrast may also be seen in another couplet from 2013, Aconteceu em
Paris [It happened in Paris] (30x20cm) vs. Triste em Paris [Blue in Paris] (30x20cm),
also part of the series Dream and Reality.
But allow us to conclude: in both paintings – we were saying – the very same
female figure, with his large and elegant red umbrella. She, this yellow-flowered dress
girl, who anyone may easily think as a biographical representation of the painter, is, in
both sceneries, the very representation of dream, of the unbreakable will to look up
and forward. That girl (only now we realize) is actually the artist, Líria Varne herself –
the tireless painter that each and every day looks


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