Research - Fernanda Gomes / by Ally McGinn

Gomes is a Brazilian visual artist, born in 1960, she was active in the 1980’s with her first solo show in 1997. (Schwabsky, 2002)

Gomes uses leftover everyday objects, including furniture, glasses, mirrors, string, hair, cigarette ends, small pieces of bone, worn wood, plastic bags, gold leaf, pencils, paper, water, rubber balls, and even crispbread in her assembled objects.

Her works question what art is by encouraging the viewer to ask whether they are paintings. Blurring the line between painting, sculpture and object Gomes calls her works ‘things’. (Whitelegg, 2013)

Often including multiple elements, the works can be considered to be installations.  She carefully complies the objects, altered and unaltered, into arrangements that resemble cartographies.

Many of the elements are covered in white paint, a reference to the studio and the act of preparing to paint. Using the same, balancing, colour on multiple objects equalise them, visually and metaphorically. The objects reference nothing but themselves, and their relational interactions with each other.

Fernanda Gomes (2014)  Untitled.  Canvas, wood, paint. 32 x 58 x 3.3cm

Fernanda Gomes (2014) Untitled. Canvas, wood, paint. 32 x 58 x 3.3cm

The white paint removes references and acts as a form of reduction. In places, her editing makes it almost appear to disappear.

Gomes chooses not to title her works, adding to the ambiguity of each. I find this very interesting and akin to the act of priming a surface, to open it for consideration. (Alison Jacques Gallery, Undated)

Gomes assembles the works in the gallery spaces, turning the gallery into a temporary studio. Her practice entails careful consideration in the space, which she describes as an attempt to “try and enlarge perception, as a stone thrown in the water” (Schwabsky, 2002). This practical intensive interaction with the gallery space intimately relates her work to the space of display, which in the case of artworks is the space in which these things reside, their immediate environment.

This is something I deeply admire, and constantly seek to achieve with my work.

Her visual language can be described as delicate and shows a respect for the objects she claims. Utilising the mundane Gomes aggrandises objects we would normally ignore, making us reconsider the material world. By treating the materials with such reverence they become almost relics, a link to the idea of the museum or archive.

The relationships between the objects chosen bring unexpected dialogues to life. In some pieces, the relationship is nearly imperceptible – like a single piece of transparent thread against a white wall.

On a personal note - I feel I have an element of subtlety but it is something I would like to explore more.

Gomes speaks about the “insufficiency of words”, in art. (Schwabsky, 2002) I’ve often felt this is the case, otherwise, all artists would be writers. This understanding of the nature of language and its interaction with art is evident in her handling of objects and their purpose.

Fernanda Gomes (2017) Installation view of studio.

Fernanda Gomes (2017) Installation view of studio.

Her work is a balance of consideration, addition and reduction; hovering between mundane and significant, while capturing a sensitivity to the visual world. Gomes is an artist who forces us to ask whether we are looking at a painting, or simply a metaphor for one, either way, the questions remain


Alison Jacques Gallery (Undated) Fernanda Gomes [Online] Alison Jacques Gallery. Available from: [Accessed 11.11.17].

Schwabsky, B. (2002) Vitamin P: New Perspectives in Painting. London: Phaidon.

Whitelegg, I. (2013) ‘Fernanda Gomes’. Frieze, [Online] Available from: [Accessed 11.11.17].