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Terra Ignota, 7 by Ana Maria Pacheco

Today we look at Terra Ignota, 7 by Ana Maria Pacheco for Artwork in Focus. Join me Divvya Nirula as I explore and present my experience of the selected artwork.

Artwork in Focus

Title: Terra Ignota, 7
Artist : Ana Maria Pacheco
Year : 1993
Medium : etching with drypoint, (signed & titled by artist)
Dimensions : 34x24cm (approx.)
Location : Rosebery’s, UK

Terra Ignota, 7, 1993, by Ana Maria Pacheco
Image Courtesy :

The Fear & Beauty in Terra Ignota

Mischief, Mahem, Fear and Helpfulness along with a sense of Doom all come through the blurred yet captivating expressions of the people in Terra Ignota. The etching made with drypoint immediately brings to mind the atomic bomb. In addition to that, for me, this visual depiction takes me the wit and insight showcased in Gregory Corso’s 1958 poem the BOMB! In shape and in emotional impact there is a thread here that I find intriguing.

As we continue to look at Pacheco’s depiction of the various bodies of individuals, contorted and in a transitory moment there is a stunned awe with which we look on. We are unsure whether this group of individuals are moving towards something and somewhere, or are they escaping a space, a reality.

The title I will admit adds to this narrative, for it alludes to geographical places. A latin term – terra ignota or terra incognita – is a traditional cartographical term used to denote “unknown lands” on a map. So, are these individuals we see in this artwork fleeing or discovering this Terra Ignota? I must also point out that Anna Maria Pacheco gives us a set of 10 drypoint etchings in this theme. And this is only Terra Ignota, 7. Thus we can be sure there is more to the story and the tale the artist wishes to share with us.

Ana Maria Pacheco – The Artist & Her Medium

Pacheco is famous for her multi-figure groups of polychrome sculptures carved from wood. In fact these are typically exhibited as installation pieces and include Man and his Sheep (Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery) and Dark Night of the Soul (1999). Worked on and produced in part during her residency at the National Gallery, London as a response to The Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian by the Pollaiuolo brothers.

IPacheho’s main influence is O Aleijadinho, Antonio Francisco Lisboa, (1738-1814). Who was he? Lisboa was a significant figure of Brazilian baroque religious statuary. His technique of the polychromatic woodcarving and his theatrical compositions deeply moved Pachecho. As we look at Terra Ignato once again we know that the sculpted groups serve a purpose towards the story. Similar to the works of Lisboa. In both cases, what that purpose is – changes with each viewer, and dare I say viewing. The compact bodies and expressive faces of the figures that inhabit Pacheco’s engravings and paintings share the same hieratic quality and incredible emotional strength as Aleijadinho’s sculpted groups.

Other Details

A lot of Pacheco’s work tends to focus on travel. There are explorations of the themes of fantasy and the supernatural. He work draws inspiration from and includes Brazilian legends, Mythology, Christian mysticism, and Medieval satire.

On the 23rd of March 2010 – Christie’s acquired this set of 10 limited edition etchings. By way of provenance, in London, they soon went to auction and their reproductions in media and digital platform brought Terra Ignota to the attention of many new audiences.

Born in Goiás, Brazil in 1943, she studied Sculpture and Music. She completed a postgraduate course in Music and Education at the Federal University of Brazil in Rio de Janeiro. Later Pachecho even taught and lectured at these institutions before she moved to London. Where she lives and produces art. In 1973 she moved to study at the Slade School of Art on a British Council Scholarship. In 2002 she was made an Honorary Doctor of Philosophy by The Senate of East Anglia University in partnership with the Norwich School of Art.

She depicts narratives that are discovered by the viewer. They encourage discovering through the experience of looking. Pachecho works the mystical aspect, specifically playing on viewer curiosity to arouse their interest and imagination. Her art is also a reflection on humanity, explaining that her “art shows us how vulnerable we are.”

Want to read more of my views on artworks that hold my attention ? Visit the archive for Artwork in Focus.

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