Saatchi Gallery exhibits Kingston graduate's expression of resistance

Brazilian-born Gabriella Pitanga moved to London to pursue her dreams of becoming an artist, now her art is displayed at the well-renowned Saatchi Gallery but her Brazilian roots remain at the very heart of her work.

A recent graduate from the Kingston School of Art, Pitanga has her work featured as part of the London Grads Now 2021 exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery in Duke of York square.

Pitanga’s work showcased at the gallery is titled Painful Truth and Transitions and was created using watercolours on large sheets of paper. Made during lockdown, Pitanga turned her bedroom into her studio upon realising she wouldn’t be able to access the studios at university for a while.

Born in Brazil and raised in Portugal, Pitanga moved to London permanently in 2011. On 12th November, she performed her new piece Beautiful Transition, Truth and Manifestation live, at the gallery- opening the trilogy of works for Saatchi Lates. “I have never had the opportunity to perform in a gallery space with an audience,” Pitanga says.

She used watercolours and large-scale paper combined with body movement and lyrics referring to the Brazilian Tropicália movement voiced over whilst performing.

The piece itself is an act of resistance towards the current Brazilian right-wing government; something that Pitanga feels extremely passionate about due to her Brazilian roots. “Brazil being my homeland, I thought it would be my duty to be critical of this moment as an artist. I have brought back a soundtrack of Tropicália song lyrics to bring attention to the current situation of the country,” she explains.

The Tropicália movement originated in the 1960’s by both musicians and artists as a form of resistance to the dictatorship in power at that time. “It just made sense to recall that,” she says.

While Pitanga doesn’t always have a specific inspiration when creating her performance pieces, she says:

“I have a drive to make them as an urge to release energy that comes from my ancestral roots, spiritual practises and as an act of resistance to what is expected from me as an Afro-Latin American woman. I just want to be free to do whatever I want without stereotypes and the constant sexualisation of black bodies.”

For anyone who missed Pitanga’s performance, you can check out The II Platform’s IGTV. Painful Truth and Transitions is at The Saatchi Gallery as part of London Grads Now 2021 exhibition from now until 16 January 2022.