“Through painting, I liberate my sense of self from the restrictive notions of gender, race and identity that surround me.”
Marcela Flórido (b.1988)’s work reclaims the female form through self-portraits. Steeped in memories, place and identity, her figures are always female – hybrids of herself and the women in her life. Her process begins by directly drawing onto canvas, often in freestyle. As her memories combine, Flórido obsessively repaints the oil on canvas, constantly redefining the composition. Colours are inventive, intuitive, and applied directly through trial and error. Inspired by artists like Beatriz González, Luchita Hurtado, and Terezinha, she questions “how we inhabit or imagine identity, and place, in our constant redefinition of home.”
Flórido’s paintings focus on exploring self-representation – questioning labels and taboos. She does this by giving agency and narrative to unnamed women. Each character is immersed amongst fauna native to Brazil. These landscapes don’t correspond to real or actual places. Instead, they’re composed of snippets and memories from Flórido’s own historically nomadic home life – having previously lived in Lamu, New York, London and Rio de Janeiro. Despite the intense surroundings, there is not a sensation of being overwhelmed. The figures have majesty over their environment and representation. They have tamed the space. They hold a piercing gaze with the audience, as if posing for a photograph. The figures reject prejudice, the male gaze and stereotypes of the Brazilian female body. They have beauty and power on their own terms.