Marina Perez Simão's Paintings Won't Stop Growing in Size

Marina Perez Simão in her studio.

Marina Perez Simão's paintings look like how diving into a body of water feels. Luscious color envelops every corner of the canvas, brushstrokes swirl around the surface like a current, and edges bite with cold while the center warms up. Since the market for ultra-contemporary artists went gangbusters four years ago, the 43-year-old’s transporting abstractions have become sought-after prizes—perhaps because the kinds of people who can afford them fantasize about experiencing the quiet yet profound connection to the elements that her work embodies. 


After growing up between the green hills of Minas Gerais and the urban sprawl of Rio de Janeiro, Simão studied art in Paris before returning home to Brazil. Lately, her work has grown considerably in both scale and ambition. After she completed an 11-meter-long fresco in São Paulo for Mendes Wood DM’s 10th anniversary group show, the artist “felt the need to expand” her oil paintings.

Two of her largest landscapes to date—both more than 12 feet wide—form the backbone of her first West Coast solo show, “Solanaceae,” which runs through March 2 at Pace Los Angeles. The exhibition takes its name from the scientific word for the nightshade plant family. The term’s murky etymology has a special kinship with Simão’s work: It either stems from the Latin verb solari, meaning “to soothe,” or from the fact that certain solanaceous flowers resemble the shape of the sun.


Ambiguity, nature’s capacity to heal, the connection between the earth and the heavens—it’s all there, both in the title and the 15 canvases in the show, which the artist created over the past year. “For these works, I was trying to trap light inside the paintings, between the layers or juxtapositions of colors,” Simão says. “Ultimately, movement and light are the guiding principles behind everything else.”

Solanaceae” is on view through March 2, 2024 at Pace in Los Angeles.