María Thereza Negreiros


"The Colors of the Jungle", Proartes, Cali, Enero 2014
Breyner Huertas, ArtNexus Magazine, 2014

The rainforest is a sanctuary overflowing with mystery and a mystic greatness that is inconceivable to mankind. Impossible to be displayed in all its dimensions, its wild nature is invoked by Maria Thereza Negreiros (Maués, 1930) in the insinuations of meaning in which rugged and fluid color flows between the canvases, always generating the sensation of movement. This natural movement can be at the molecular level or of vast terrains and vegetation. In the exhibition entitled The Colors of the Jungle, Negreiros features paintings that highlight the artist's qualities as a colorist through imposing natural phenomena of overwhelming magnitude. These phenomena—bloomings, igapós (backwater-flooded rainforests) and riffles, become unwitnessed events, an echo of the jungle that moves its uncontainable power and whose resonances are pictorially translated by Negreiros, who far from representing or alluding to these phenomena, composes them with ambiguous precision, partly as result of the desire that awakens in viewers to witness and conceive such forces of nature.

Maria Thereza Negreiros raises her gaze over the landscape to evoke from above the expanded masses of vegetation and chaos in continuous motion. However, by magnifying these territories, all figurative representation of the forest is lost, and the resulting image, similar to satellite views or aerial photographs, reveals from an abstract perspective the continuity of the natural flow which, at the cell, body and earth levels is constantly changing under superior forces that for centuries have been taken as divine.

Displayed across two exhibition rooms, the exhibition begins with a series titled Flowery Jungle, where Negreiros diversifies her green and blue palette to introduce colors like red, fuchsia and yellow, as she also ups the saturation and intensifies the composition. These paintings of thicker and quicker touches allude to the copulative ritual of blooming as greens attempt to mix with warm colors that have already risen to a world of sensual vulnerability. The flowers copulate, explode, and one can almost see a sort of "climax" of pollination. In this series of pieces, the richness of color is reminiscent of the great variety of birds and plants that are typical of the Amazon and whose chromatic display represents paradise on earth.

The second exhibition room presents the Igapós, Anavilhanas and Correntezas series. In Brazil Igapó refers to a backwater-flooded forest in which water overflows up to the tops of trees which survive haughty and dignified like towers that underpin the slow pace of canoes. Resorting to blue glazes and a wide range of greens, Negreiros appeals to the magic stillness of this landscape in which the land has been swallowed by lakes and rivers. On the other hand, in contrast to the sanctuary-like peace found in the Igapós, in the work Correntezas the artist masterly il-lustrates the strong water currents that carry soil and vegetation in a violent natural movement that split the vegetation and modify the hydrographic boundaries, which generates a reflection on the vital connection between materials, substantial balance and the movement that affects everything.

All these compositions revolve around nature as a heavenly place; the paintings evoke divinity beyond forms and landscapes, as if they showed the aura or the vapors from these boundless places that are now threatened by mining, farming, hunting and other devastations caused by mankind. The natural balance of these ecosystems is fragile and delicate. Despite the extent and strength of these phenomena, plant and animal species have developed a unique symbiosis of correspondence between climate, conditions and resources. And Negreiros illustrates this natural synchrony, these organic connections that flow with liquid vibration. Anavilhanas is the name of an unrivaled place in that it is the largest river archipelago in the world. It consists of over four hundred islands located in Río Negro in the Amazon. Many of these islands remain submerged in high water seasons, thereby generating floating forests.

The paintings of Maria Thereza Negreiros emerge from a direct relationship with these ecosystems. They are like the testimony of someone who has been impressed but who cannot communicate with words or figures the majesty of the natural environment that he/she has experienced. The artist is sensitive to the natural balance and, therefore, her paintings transcend form, as they rather show the struggle between colors, flows and planes that are destroyed almost like in spirals, where everything ends where it begins. All this gives the sensation that, even after being captured in the canvas, the pigments move when viewers turn their backs on them. There is magic trapped between the subtle and strong contrasts of a chaos that, although seemingly spontaneous, is actually the result of a masterful and intuitive composition. For this reason, The Colors of the Jungle are truly the colors of the selvatic aura, of its divinity and mystery.

Maria Thereza Negreiros
An Offering to Life
Clarita Spitz, Barranquilla, March 2012

You have to know a bit about my life to understand the Amazon series, the brazilian-colombian artist María Thereza Negreiros tells us. Her monumental works surge from the center of the earth and speak the tongue of the Latin American artist. Letra Urbana spoke with her about the “Offerings” exhibition at the Frost Museum of FIU.

La Palabra newspaper, number 173
August 2007

Universidad del Valle’s newspaper, La Palabra, in a special issue dedicated to the fine arts, chronicles Maria Thereza Negreiros’ artistic path in its feature article.

Enrique Grau
El Universal, Cartagena, Colombia
October 2002

Maria Thereza Negreiros’ work brings out the best in abstract expressionism. Her global vision and paintings of burning jungles, rivers and lakes uniquely question these natural catastrophes and flaws in the human being.

Interview with Maritza Uribe de Urdinola. Director, Museo de Arte Moderno La Tertulia, Cali. 1980

You have to live the Amazon forest. You have to suffer the sun at noon, feeling that it is going to split you in half, experience nature, suddenly solemn and still and suddenly aggressive, this changing nature so similar to that of the human being. I would encourage all intellectuals, especially those confined to the comforts of urban life, to visit.

Miguel Gonzáles
El País, Cali, Colombia
September 22, 1974

Even though many times I disagree with the results produced by the artists, this does not always means I am rejecting or denying their art as an exemplifying act.

María Thereza Negreiros, who a long time ago established her art studio in Cali, is above all, a serious artist. Because she believes and proves that art should be a profession. And this is precisely one of the most rewarding issued when speaking of arts in moments during which  the interest towards them can so easily be misleading. There appears to be some mediocre painters that seem to assault, if not the integrity of the profession, at least its superficial appearance. In a society like ours, one must be aware of the most superficial aspects that surround us. 

María Thereza Negreiros does not set down on her purpose of creating an ever-changing art . She constantly seeks her own way of communicating what she feels. It is important to stress that the artist has a vast experience in different materials and mechanical means of expression.

Her production reaches true plastic conclusions that bring out her interest in optical sensations. An optic that always takes the viewer into account and make him be part of her art. María Thereza Negreiros achieves a series of images where Light, motion and the subtle use of color become part of a game. Because it is necessary to have fun and enjoy Maria Thereza Negreiros boxes. Nevertheless, the presence of eyes meticulously photographed and enlarged, do not make us believe that the work of art acts as a diversion from the social reality. On the contrary, María Thereza Negreiros relieves that her art can register to a certain point anguish, limitation and all sort of feelings proper of the dramatic situation of mankind.

María Victoria Aramendia
Notes on Art, El Espectador, Bogotá, Colombia, 1974

Is it perhaps a vision of time through those hallucinating eyes that seem to measure not only the present, but also the past and the future, sensing what will be without burying what was? Those long-gone times and those that are coming seem to be within Maria Thereza Negreiros’ mind, in that immense concave lens that exhibits homage to Botticelli. Vision that can bring hope and hopelessness that can be avoided by knowing that it will arrive with the same inexorable movement of the stars. It seems to transport space within the same module as the small cylinders, fixing it on the incommensurable horizon of the human eye. Advanced art that is surely within the perception of modern youth.  What there is no doubt about is that we have to divide the plasticity of painting, sculpture and plastic experiences. That pure, easel or mural painting has nothing to do with the applications of other materials that adapt themselves to the cultural process of the last scene of the 20th century.

Dicken Castro, El Periódico, Bogotá, Colombia
May 1972

While studying Maria Thereza Negreiros’ paintings from 1061 to 1965 and located in a surge of abstract informalism, we can follow a serious creative process and find that after ten years of constant and determinate searching she is fully reaching her goals.

Antonio Maia, Jornal do Brasil, Rio de Janeiro
September 3, 1967

The exhibition of Maria Thereza Negreiros, Brazilian artist living in Cali, now at IBEU gallery, represents the work of a person who not only knows how to dose out the color of an object conscientiously, but also how to distribute its elements in a thought-out manner.

Her angels, in a whole or fragmented conception, take up practically the whole surface in a geometric distribution, expanding until they reach the edges of the painting. At other times they box themselves in, in an arbitrary manner as though it were a puzzle.

The sensual material is not only a vehicle; the artist needs it for her manner of expression. Maria Thereza Negreiros is an independent and secure artist. We might even say a monster, referring to strength and conscience. Her new conception shows us a purified work of art, vibrant, sensual and free.

Marc Berkowitz, GAM Magazine - Galería de Arte Moderno, Río de Janeiro, Brasil, 1966

IBEU Gallery, exhibited Maria Thereza Negreiros, a Brazilian painter living in Colombia, where she is well-known. A vigorous and personal artist who uses new materials with an admirable technique and who understood the real spirit of the new conception that is not an academic conception with a sort of modern sauce. Maria Thereza Negreiros presented one of the most important expositions of the year.

Marta Traba, La Nueva Prensa,
October 1963

Ever since art began its great adventure of exploration into matter and within the soul, many artists have tried to go back to absolute zero to begin with an empty mind and without antecedents.

All extremism of this nature leads to an empty canvas; and every track left by the hand on that canvas will resemble the initial and slow movements of the genesis. It is with this in mind that Maria Thereza Negreiros calls her paintings Genesis, and enumerates them as the shape of her world grows and becomes more visible and more audible.

It is clear that artists that force themselves into such a rite of purification, and who obstinately reject any shape that isn’t most sincerely theirs, will have a personal genesis. To Maria Thereza Negreiros, the line was at the beginning. That line is somewhat erratic and ambulating. It makes a mark in dreams, sweetly, or unwinds in arabesques, or flows without any apparent effort along the brilliant white crust that synthetic lacquers adopt. The material used for the first phases of Genesis is difficult and not a few times uncomfortable; it approaches the perfect finish of commercial advertisements and becomes excessively washable. But Maria Thereza Negreiros dodges those dangers, with inclusions of sands, stones and matte points of resistance that brake the opulent flow of the lacquer.

After the light, almost imponderable births on the white lacquers, the formal world begins to take shape. A thick undulant movement grows and becomes evident; the outline of a river, the curved perimeter of a crater, the rounded hills on an imaginary landscape, the discovery of a nature that is no more than movement and the hot colors strongly nourish the painting and remove all of the initial melancholy. The painting is heavy, burns due to the reds and yellows, it becomes repoussé. The imaginary nature ornaments itself. Splendid battles explode within the colors. One painting adorns itself with red, another with ochre, another with gray. The colors are pennants that illuminate the genesis.

This refined work, original, nonconformist, tenacious, emerges from the habitual limitations of abstract art. It is, in Colombia another art that can magnificently guide the public to the difficult beauty of unknown and ignored things.

Marta Traba, La Nueva Prensa, Bogotá, Colombia, 1961

María Thereza Negreiros art is extremely seductive. Her Butterfly Wings (Alas de Mariposa) series is swift and full of grace and light.  It is a beautiful, abstract yet explicit series. The artist feels at ease with the sensible and feminine aspect of color, and with the intelligent and efficient line and planes of form. This is most unusual. She assertively expresses her bewilderment regarding the art subject and strongly shows her will to dissolve it into something that, at the end of the process, will always be defined as Light and color. There is something childish and really innocent in this profound attachment to color and light. I am convinced that this creates the boldness of her art and the bewitchment on the viewer.