“Recámaras” is Verónica Palmieri’s first exhibition in Mexico and with it, she officially joins the roster of artists represented by
In this exhibition she presents paintings that support a grayish palette without saturation of colors with scenes that take place mostly indoors that are torn between light and shadow, as if strong light dazzles the eye and the shadow forces one to look in and discover what that is not seen but is sensed.
Palmieri says these paintings continually appeal to the viewer, in addition to seeing, to intuit. There is a character that runs through the pieces, it could be the same but in different bodies, she realizes the potential multiplicity that we all exercise, especially in the interiors we inhabit. This character wanders these scenes as in a chosen solitude, however the possibility of seduction is constantly sensed in the presence of works of art hanging on the walls that evoke the idealization of romantic love, in the lights and shadows, in the gestures as invitations and in the presence of animals that the artist sees.
Voyage autour de sa chambre
I don’t know why I think that the women that Veronica Palmieri paints are in love with their solitude. Maybe it’s because I deeply identify with them, or maybe because when I look at these paintings, I pair my own story with the images. I speak of an active appropriation of solitude, of solitude as a trophy; a reconquering of domestic space, where dreams allow access to all possible worlds. For these wo- men, home is a temple–not as it was for our grandmothers, who knew nothing but familial confinement, but in a new way, as if these paintings’ inhabitants were transforming the DNA of reclusion in private space that runs through women’s history and culture, reinven- ting their relationships with home and confinement.
I spoke with Veronica about her paintings the other day. I told her that they’d made me think of the confinement of the pandemic, its particular happiness, the joy of reinventing the world indoors. I told her that, coincidentally, a few months before we were all obligated to close ourselves within our homes, I had read a marvelous book: Voyage autour de sa chambre (Voyage Around My Room), written in 1794 by writer and soldier Xavier de Maistre. I liked to fantasize that her paintings had come out of that book. De Maistre, like the Palmieri heroines, traveled to faraway places as he looked at a painting hanging on the wall of his living room–or a tapestry, or a lamp, or a piece of furniture. The French writer’s immobile travels were always triggered by a piece of home decor. During the pandemic, I, too, learned to travel while seated on my rickety sofa. I tell Veronica that amidst all the despair, the recent public health crisis taught me that I didn’t need to leave my house to travel through the universe, that reading on my living room sofa could transport me to an infinity of other times and spaces. Her paintings recall that great transformation: a home becomes a sounding box. “I’ve been living in a pandemic for years,” she answered. She said a phrase that I treasure: “to paint is to give power to small things, to start saving them little by little.” I think the same of poetry. These paintings seem so literary to me: every detail of the space that surrounds us is, in its smallness and banality, charged with the infinite. We just have to learn to tune into that enormity.
So Palmieri’s bourgeois interiors are charged with mystery. They transform into something that transcends the home. They become temples of a profane and syncretic cult, a religion practiced by joyfully confined women, where the human interlaces with the animal and vegetable in a continuum without conflict. Here there are no hierarchies of species: cats, cattle, fish and birds seem to have the same presence in this house as the humans. Do they live with one human or many? Are these scenes somehow self-portraits of all the possible women that one woman becomes on her stationary voyage around her room? Girl, old woman, queen, peasant, servant and lady, all at once, and at once, none. An aura of absence hangs over these figures, as if they were always abstracting themselves from their environment, always ready to be elsewhere in their minds. And isn’t painting always an immobile voyage around the room?
When I ask her what tradition she sees herself within, Veronica answers, “I don’t consider my work to be original. I know my painting isn’t a rupture, but just another link in a chain, and it synthesizes my love for painting.” That love allows us to Voyage autour de sa chambre connect with art as a form of knowing what is beyond and within our sensibilities. After contemplating Veronica Palmieri’s paintings over and over, it occurs to me that that love for painting is, ultimately, the most powerful fuel for the furthest adventures: the adventures within our most remote interior selves.