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Paula Turmina_Human behaviour_2024_TURPA011_Photography courtesy of Zachary Balber.jpg

Paula Turmina, Human behaviour, oil on canvas, 2024, 10 x 12 inches (25 x 30 cm)

Paula Turmina: Drawn (in)to the land

Exhibition: June 1st, - July 3rd, 2024

Wednesday - Saturday, 11am - 6pm

800 NW 22nd Street, Miami, FL 33127

Creation often starts with a line. Building spaces and worlds as well as demarcating, dividing. Sometimes intentional as the drawing of a map, other times created by habits, as the lines in the palm of our hands. The traces left by the movement of different bodies create spaces and worlds that can later be interpreted and responded to. Every step we make is a trace we leave behind. As Paul Klee described, the line that comes from body movement's sake develops freely, in its own pace: it “goes for a walk” (1961). Things in the world resemble drawn marks, a horizon line, a boundary, a twig, a step in the sand.


In this shifting world, which I try to process through paintings, I have established a future environment where insects, humans, and plants are interconnected, moving towards the sun. The ant trails form lines and humans – occasionally called 'sun worshippers' – are currently attempting to create, bend, form new connections with the land. The difficulty given by the dry barren landscape makes the effort ever more questionable. This show is a reflection on the process of creation, the potentiality of paint, and the play with worldbuilding amidst chaotic times. 

– Paula Turmina


In works such as Si, Human behaviour, and Human behaviour II, the formation of line is figuratively traced upon the surface of land, and literally painted upon the canvas. An elongated, serpentine arm renders the outline of a figure in each of the Human behaviour paintings; this shadow figure is a recurring motif in Turmina’s visual language. Ants, in proper formation, encircle the carving, abiding by this new boundary. 


The central painting in the show, Communion, depicts three central characters drawing a plant in the landscape. While they tower over their surrounding environs, seeming maestros of their domain, one figure sheds a tear, grounding them with pathos. Communion is the most densely concentrated painting in the show, laden with the lexicon found throughout Turmina’s oeuvre.  In the background, feet poke out from the corner of the canvas and a melting face lies on the desert floor: this imagery appears as well in While I rest and Sinking in, respectively. The melting face references Turmina’s ‘sun worshippers’, previously explored in her work, which have been hypnotized by the sun and look at it until the point of dissolving into the ground. The hybridized insect-human flying above directs the viewer to the artist’s interest in body horror and the morphing of species, namely humans with insects.  


Grey Ray’s nocturne scene serves as Turmina’s darkest painting to date. It is an exercise on envisioning and shedding light on what already exists in our surroundings. As the figure draws with its feet onto the land, it looks forward with a fierce look, casting a penumbra on the tree in its sight. While Turmina was creating Grey Ray, the solar eclipse occurred, eliciting a moment of reflection on the sun-moon dynamic and these two bodies that are constantly affecting us on Earth. Similar in scale, Silent attempts takes direct inspiration in the formation of line and color from Paul Klee. The title refers to the unseen efforts to create something new, to change, or to work through darkness. The mood in this painting is of a damp ground, atypical from the arid landscape found elsewhere in the exhibition. The flora growing in the mid-distance are carnivorous plants which feast on the arts. Like the sun and the moon, the human and ants are in constant symbiosis; these “silent attempts” refer to actions happening on a macro or micro scale.

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