Landscape is the starting point for the paintings of Lucia Laguna (1941, Campos dos Goytacazes, RJ, lives in Rio de Janeiro). From the surroundings of her studio, in the neighborhood of São Francisco Xavier, a Rio de Janeiro suburb, the artist extracts the vocabulary of shapes, colors and images that will come to compose her paintings. Laguna began to dedicate herself to painting after retiring as a Portuguese literature and Latin teacher, when she began to attend the courses at the Escola de Artes Visuais do Parque Lage in the 1990s. From the window of her home studio, with its views of morro da Mangueira (Mangueira Hill), Laguna studied the neighborhood’s ways of life, its construction and architecture, in order to define her mode of painting.
This exhibition brings together 21 works of the artist’s recent production (from 2012 to 2018) and from three of her main themes: Gardens, Landscapes and Studios. Part of the show is composed of the Landscapes that Laguna produced with the theme of neighborhoods in northern Rio de Janeiro. With these works, the artist proposes another imaginary of the Rio suburb, incorporating her experience and memory. In this series, Laguna expands her “neighborhood” into the museum space: in a piece specially made for this exhibition, Landscape no. 114 (MASP) (2018), the artist absorbs the objects of her studio, the plants from her garden, architectural elements of the MASP building and works from the museum’s collection.
A visit to Laguna’s studio reveals an extensive list of artists tacked to her walls, including canonical names from the history of Western art such as Paolo Uccello, William Turner, Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso, as well as contemporary artists, such as Beatriz Milhazes and Paula Rego. By defining these artists as her “artistic family” and living daily with these references in her studio, Laguna brings them into coexistence with the Morro da Mangueira, with the noise of the train, the retaining walls arranged at the “feet” of the favela, with the vine that grows in the artist’s garden and invades her studio, with the birds that enter through the window—in short, with all this simultaneity of layers that compose the suburb and the nature of the work of Lucia Laguna.
Lucia Laguna: neighborhood is curated by Isabella Rjeille, assistant curator at MASP