Brazilian-born Silvia Poloto is an accomplished artist working in a range of visual disciplines. She is known for her lively abstract canvases and mixed-media sculptures. Recognized for her dynamic compositions and color sensibility, Poloto exploits a vibrant visual vocabulary of boldness and subtlety. Her deftly handled juxtapositions unfold in rich, textured hues and expressive gesture. The result is a body of work characterized by equal amounts of surprise, playfulness and provocation. Her aesthetic choices engage the viewer on a visceral level.
Poloto has worked in a variety of media, including photography, sculpture, painting and video. Elements of each of these media find their home in her current work.
While the Bay Area is her current home, her work has been exhibited throughout the U.S. and abroad, including United Arab Emirates, France, Spain, Jordania, Italy, Romania, Croatia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Greece and China among others.
In the Bay Area, her work has been featured in exhibitions at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, the Italian American Museum, the Triton Museum in Santa Clara and the DeYoung Museum, where she was an artist-in-residence.
Poloto’s work has been acquired by more than 80 institutional and corporate collections around the US and by more than 900 private collectors around the world.
Beginning with my experience as a woman, immigrant, widow and mother, from my own subjective experience and honest reflection, I create work to connect to others. I move beyond my personal identity to a universal self, casting light into and onto human experience. In this way these things that define me are catalysts, but never traps. They are lenses, but never blinders. They are personal, but only to connect to the universal.
I am interested in the purpose of pain, in the structure of sorrow, in the anguish of grief, in the rapture of love, in the joy of friendship, in the tenderness of self-discovery. I am interested in the exploration of elegance, of simplicity, of beauty.
Like many artists in history, I affirm the existence of beauty itself and the possibility of human connection and shared meaning. However I work in abstraction. Through abstraction I reveal rather than portray, and invite rather than present.
I use an always evolving approach to materials to express what is there, what is here, what is between.
The HABOTAI series is a continuation and extension of my exploration of Wabi-Sabi principles, where the expressionistic nature of the HABOTAI is built upon the simplicity of the Wabi-Sabi. The minimalism and structure of the Wabi-Sabi allow for complete freedom within the work, allowing me to insert gestures made from various materials, especially ink drawings on Japanese silk, but also watercolor on canvas, oil stick on paper, and acrylic on wood.
With my previous wabi-sabi series, I sought a kind of essential refined simplicity reduced to the extreme. The addition of these gestures bring into the work an active presence with dynamic possibility.
My gestures are sincere and heartfelt yet bold and ambiguous. They represent a feeling, they are symbols I relate to, part of the human culture, which meaning remains undefined.
The Poetics of Space
This new body of work began with the turn of a page. Flipping through Gaston Bachelard’s epic art tome, The Poetics of Space, I was propelled from the outer world to inside one of my paintings, an internal world where space is vast, and possibilities are endless.
Finding inspiration in everyday experiences is familiar to me. Life’s data filtered through a feeling, triggers the poetics of making. I’m continually led by a loose thread of an idea which I pull, twist, tangle and unravel all the while staying receptive to the moment of a larger connection to the image, to the poetics of the object, the space it occupies and that which surrounds it.
Documenting life experiences is an intimate affair. I have laid bare as a woman, an immigrant, widow and mother in previous bodies of work. However, for The Poetics of Space these facts about myself are irrelevant. The concept behind this work posits a universal question of being, one that denies the boundaries of self to reveal the “we” in a space which is never too vast or too small to affirm the beauty of hidden connections.
This body of work is an examination of letting go – of attitudes, old beliefs, dreams and emotions. A clearing of all things unnecessary in order to strip bare to the essential. Within this context, the emptiness is full, and holds potential for all unfolding moments.
This work began when I was building my home. The relationship between me and the structure of my home was felt. Was lived. As if I was inside one of my paintings. From the outside, from the inside out, me and the empty space, me and the objects, how the objects were placed, the relationship among each other and the negative space around it, and me standing around each one. I became an active part of the space as much as a passive one. I saw myself having total control over it and not having any control at all, as if experiencing all potentiality. The result was a breathing space for the eye and mind, surrounded by the sea and the sky.
What I sought with my living space, and continues with my artwork, is a kind of essential refined simplicity reduced to the extreme, understated and unassuming yet not without presence and quiet authority. A breathing space.
For this body of work, I use paper as a primary medium – gluing and pulling the paper back leaving marks which become the brushstrokes, the underlying structure of the painting. The nicks, chips, bruises, scars and dents each add to their undiminished poise and strength of character. Imperfect and unpredictable yet inevitable. They don’t shout, they whisper.