Simone Fontana Reis’ paintings blur lines between abstraction and representation. Taking fragments of interior and exterior landscapes and sometimes isolated figures or faces, Reis constructs complex scenarios that seem to be in chaos or collapse. Trees, floorboards, curtains, demolition sites and building façades all feature in her works and each painting also typically contains within it a large abstract, almost alien-like, form. These strange additions transform the works into curious in-between places, neither real nor imagined.
Using oil, enamel and acrylic paints on canvas, and on occasion incorporating elements of transparent plastic, Reis’ paintings contain a freedom of expression that utilise as many techniques as they do media. Thick, impasto swirls of paint sit on top of looser, translucent backgrounds marked with thin washes of paint and smudges of colour. Other works demonstrate a much bolder, more graphic, street-like approach to painting.
Reis studied at Atelier Leda Catunda in Sao Paulo, Brazil and later completed both her BA and MA in Fine Art at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London. Nominated for New Sensation 2014 by Saatchi Art, Reis has also exhibited across the UK and in several locations internationally in Sweden, the USA and Brazil.
The installation Not all that Glitters is Gold, by artist Simone Fontana Reis, aims to provoke reflection on pre-Columbian Brazilian technologies and knowledge and, in particular, to retrieve the values of Amazonian peoples. The exhibition runs from the 14th June to the 20th August at the Paiol da Cultura, in the Science Grove of the INPA – National Institute for Amazon Research (INPA/MCTI), in Manaus, Amazonas. The artist incorporates Terra Preta, or Amazonian Dark Earths, and methods of its preparation in her artwork. She covers the walls of the 40 metre-long exhibition space with a Terra Preta compound and uses replicas of ancestral ceramic fragments found in it, which when transformed into bronze shine like the gold conveyed in European art. Simone notes that “the European invaders failed to recognise the importance of the Terra Preta and the tremendous achievement of these natives. Desperately seeking gold, they could not see the real Eldorado: a method of cultivation and lifestyle entirely adapted to the environment, to the way in which they transformed the landscape, enriching the soil, wasting nothing, selecting and domesticating species, using natural water forces and cycles, with no hunger and no disease – a stark contrast from the reality of 16th century Europe.