Bela Nhunguara (2020)
In his practice, Zeh Palito creates vibrant paintings that imagine interdependent relationships between humans and the natural world, oftentimes drawing from Brazilian and African cultures. His bright, saturated colors seem to reflect the hues that he encounters in his homeland of Brazil, while also putting his work in conversation with paintings by such figures as David Hockney.
Such characteristic use of color can be also seen within Bela Nhunguara, which portrays a Black woman wearing a violet outfit staring directly into the spectator. Leaning onto the chair, she looks poised and comfortable as if on vacation, an atmosphere that is also similarly conveyed by the yellow background as well as a tall, leafy plant that occupies the right half of the canvas. Rather than go into detailing the contours of the figure, however, his use of paint renders the figure relatively flat and infuses the work with an illustrative, graphic quality. By filling the negative space between the legs of the chair in dark brown and painting a pink area around the right foot of the protagonist, the artist further complicates the compositional logic of the painting.