Metamorphosis, opening: a brief presentation by Thereza Salazar


Nothing retained its shape, / each thing opposed to another, as in the same body / cold battled hot, humid struggled with dry / soft to hard, the weight with weightlessness.

Ovidio, Metamorphoses, Book I.


Thereza Salazar is a Brazilian artist with intriguing, metamorphic work. It is not metamorphic by theme or subject, but by the opening of images. The openness created by Thereza is of the order of a chain of images that link her works, a continuous movement which I hope to minimally try to follow here. In the next step in the challenge - even if there are traces in their images formed previously - Thereza creates a kind of chaining: celestial maps approach the night at the Municipal Market of São Paulo. From such maps, as the constellation became flesh, snakes intertwine in the shiny sequined matter, forming unusual coats of arms. This map, at once celestial, snaking on the glossy coat of arms, becomes, literally, "a map from within", whose greenery ramifications become written, image. Briefly, these are some works developed by the artist, which seem to be a single work, a drawing undergoing a metamorphosis, a continuous trace.

This continuous motion transits kingdoms (plant, animal and mineral) and it seems to betray the own statute of the capacity of figuration that is embedded in it. Even being clear images, demarcated, there is medieval residue on them - besides other measures from the Renaissance, écarts, whose canonical Vitruvian measures failed to delete - it's all part of Thereza's research universe. The artist seems to slightly shift the status of the image coming from some discussion of Michel Foucault in The Order of Things, a fact that presents itself as a tear in our episteme, where the function of the visible is to mean the invisible. [I] In this aspect, Thereza seems to have a deep respect for the invisible, as in her images there is an area, a limit which she reaches - it does not end at the edge of the drawing- while maintaining a margin, a possible boundary becomes, at times, unnecessary to look at , typical of a drawing line that is lost. It seems that in this loss (or the forgone of the gaze, a moment of regard [ii]) there is a secret that the artist keeps and, in the light of that, we should look with distrust at her images. Yes, her images are open. However, in this lies openness that exists in the power of her secret. What is lost when composing an image, the readings that resonate on her cutting and her drawings, from all that is populated with prodigy, myth, heretic, that a medieval illumination (or bestiary) kept as a limit because it had to be shown to make you believe. The visible so much attested the invisible that it drove it up to be extinguished. I suspect that her images do not restrict the invisible, but make it small slices of the real, "visible unrealities" [iii], the claim by Borges that Thereza listens to attentively.

They are drawings: here is Thereza’s trace, that always follows the result of a contact with different materials. Therefore beyond the pictorial line, that line extends fillets of cut that outline silhouettes, shadows, volumes, but it keeps along the line the gesture that eludes most immediate representation. To destitute of transcendence Theresa Salazar’s drawings, I think this time is no longer necessary to resort to symbolism or to a medieval-Renaissance iconology to "explain" them, even if she somehow "survives" her drawings. Yet in this threshold, what exists in these drawings is perhaps the rumour, a sound and no other source images, since it seems that they came from another source: narratives, stories told, rumours of an era that was virtually erased by the writing of art history that synchronizes the images on socio-temporal lines.

In a new series of files to think about the circus in her work, the artist seems not to emphasize what we know as freak, the abnormalities and wonders that were a waste (or écarts) of the Middle Ages accepted by the Renaissance, still represented in the harmonic planks by Regnault, but the meaning of fantasy literature - the astonishing scope of Latin America - something more discreet, but that has her trace of abnormality, as pointed out by the Argentinean critic Nicolás Rosa when he stated that the ambidextrous was already an anticipation epistemic of the fantastic literature. [iv] These are issues of knowledge that are found in her drawings.

This continuous movement of the line, said in a more precise way, can be followed in three of the artist’s individual exhibitions, all in São Paulo, where she lives. In 2003, Pass Time / Time-passes, in 2005 Map of Within and in 2008, Domains. The movement of the line passes through the snake metamorphoses into plant to return to the animal world, this time, in the precise strike of the predator when it catches the victim. A relationship that always emphasizes an immanence that does not put order among devouring and devoured - on this aspect, Georges Bataille's reflections on animality and immanence are extremely relevant, because according to Bataille in Theory of Religion, between prey and predator does not exist relationship of subordination, dependency as with objects, with men. [v] This issue is very appropriate to think about the exhibition Domains. Thus, in the dialectic between present and not present, between body and silhouette, in which the artist creates the space in which to lose oneself; there is the thread of the line which Thereza follows - to guide us in her maze or to deceive the spectator- suitor? - And she goes on, traveling with concern the contours of the shape, what makes it impossible to predict her fate: which world will the next images come from?


Eduardo Jorge




[i] FOUCAULT, Michel. As palabras e as coisas: uma arqueologia das ciências humanas. São Paulo: Martins Fontes, 2007.

[ii] NANCY, Jean-Luc. La mirada del retrato. Buenos Aires: Amorrortu, 2006a.

[iii] BORGES, Jorge Luis. “Avatares da Tartaruga” In: Obras Completas 1. São Paulo: Globo, 1998. p. 273-278.

[iv] ROSA, Nicolás. “Una semiología del mundo natural”. In: Relatos críticos. Cosas animales discursos. Buenos aires: Santiago Arcos, 2006b. p. 171-241.

[v] BATAILLE, Georges. “La animalidad”. In: Teoría de la religion. Madrid: Taurus, 1981. p. 21-29.

       Thereza Salazar

São Paulo, Brasil