Loving the Chorus
Chorus, featuring 12 large monochromatic self-portraits, is a praiseworthy first solo exhibition of art by Mariah Cordeiro, held during December 2023 into February 2024, in the Edinburgh Gallery of the Bermuda Society of Arts.
The self-portraits, similarly sized but with different expressions, are situated in varying positions within their respective frames of reference. Together, in the relatively small exhibiting space, they are a stunning spectacle as they surround the viewers, enveloping them in an unfamiliar yet familiar experience.
This is an incredible self-study and exposure and I cannot recall anything similar shown locally. Internationally, there have been artists who have created numerous self-portraits and have had different motivations. One famous example is American artist Cindy Sherman. But unlike Sherman, Cordeiro is not interested in guises and transformations and assuming different characters shown in theatrical situations. Instead, the audience is presented with an immense inward reflection. She is seeking her own identity. With her face alone, and without enhancement or idealisation, Cordeiro exposes herself. Through the collection she seems to shout, “Look at me. This is who I think I am.” The vulnerability is a refreshing honesty.
These canvases and title suggest that this is Cordeiro’s voice and that this showing is a public platform for addressing and exposing fears, joys, interests, and perspectives. It is an individual’s personal study that in the process encourages viewers to consider themselves. As such, this collection is an impetus for self-examination- posing existential questions that transcend race, gender, and status: Who am I? How do I respond to influences and situations? How am I seen by others? How do I want to be seen by others? And does any of this even matter?
Cordeiro, who studied at both Bermuda College and the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design, emphasises distinctions that I particularly enjoy. The strength of the work authoritatively commands the point that painting is not dead. Painting is not just a medium; it remains an effective mirror that can successfully reflect the complexities of the human experience.
In addition, here is a young artist that understands that technical considerations such as scale, palette, and manipulation of the elements within the frame of reference, are crucial as the artist seeks the strongest way to share and communicate.
Furthermore, here is evidence of the determination of our young artists to seek new directions, possibilities and content, all while seeking to determine their own voice and perspective.
The combination of the daring honesty and the technical ability of Cordeiro’s Chorus is intriguing and I for one am looking for more from this artist and to see who may be influenced by her refreshing work as she challenges conventional expectations.
Edwin Smith, 2024