Press Release "Everyday Saints" 511 Gallery May 24 - June 30, 2005
Viviane Silvera’s large-scale drawings are inspired by historical devotional images, which she combines with modern subjects to interrogate the significance of poses and people. In her drawings, Silvera brings to the surface the fundamental issue of how humans view and decide on what is sacred in art imagery. In Renaissance art, for example, was it the identity of the figure that evoked reverence and even adoration, or was it rather the artist’s ability to choose and represent a figurative stance or position that made the subject seem important and inspirational? Silvera poses the problem but leaves the viewer to induce an answer.
Silvera taps into the beauty of everyday people by capturing them in those moments in which they exhibit qualities of transcendence: thoughtfulness, reflection, pure emotion or contemplation. She highlights the beauty of the human form as well as its expression and gesture, and thus transforms her subjects into figures who transcend the merely human and approach the ineffable. Her people become iconic, and their clothing and features echo those of historical icons in unexpected ways: a young woman’s hooded sweatshirt, for example, makes us think of the hoods of monks.
Everyday Saints manages to relate iconic figures and gestures to present-day imagery seamlessly. These drawings pose intelligent questions in a stunning manner. Silvera’s brilliant pencil fills each page with intensely cross-hatched red lines—a graphic way of competing with the photograph’s capacity for detail. Captivating to both the eye and the mind, these works stay in our memories long after we have stopped viewing them.
The artist lives and works in New York City. She was born in Hong Kong, raised in Brazil, and recently became an American citizen. She first studied painting with Brazilian artist Roberto d’ Oliveira, was art-schooled at the Art Student’s League and the National Academy of Design, then received her MFA at the New York Academy of the Arts.