Thanks to Sandra Cinto, walking through a corridor at the Dallas Museum of Art may take longer than usual. The Brazilian artist transformed the museum’s Concourse Hall with an immersive mural designed to make visitors linger and wonder.
“This space is a corridor. It’s a space where people pass, when the body is in movement. The body is not prepared to stop and see art so my goal here is to say to people, ‘Look! Art!’” Cinto said. “It’s like a mediation. Slow down. Breathe a little. Take your time. Enjoy the moment.”
“Sandra Cinto: Landscapes of a Lifetime” is a 153 ft long mural, utilizing 24 shades of blue gradually shifting from light to dark. The color shift is a mediation on time, mimicking the transition from day to night.
The mural is punctuated by 14 canvases Cinto created in her São Paulo studio over six months. “It’s also about time because it takes a lot of time to create those canvases,” Cinto said. Cinto uses the canvases to draw people into the details of the mural while appreciating the work’s larger environment.
Cinto and her diverse team of assistants used water-based markers in four different sizes to hand-draw swirls of celestial motifs. “I love this movement, the magical movement of the Milky Way and galaxies because I really believe we are stardust. If we are stardust, everybody has light inside. When we find the light inside, we realize we can do things together,” Cinto said.
Bridges meander through the dreamy landscape, linking time and space. “Some people like to build walls. Some people like to build bridges. I believe art builds bridges,” Cinto said. “I believe in bridges. Bridges connect people.”
Cinto created a soundtrack for the mural, further immersing visitors in this otherworldly time zone. Crickets chirp through the night, early birds announce the morning, waves gently wash a beach and waterfalls tumble majestically. “You can see the art not only with your eyes but with all your body. Adding sound to this installation is a way to add one more sense for people to connect with the natural. It’s a way to bring the natural into the museum,” Cinto said.
A few steps away from Cinto’s mural is “Concentrations 62: Wanda Koop, Dreamline,” the first US solo museum exhibition for the veteran Canadian artist. The exhibition is part of the DMA’s “Concentrations” series that presents a recently completed body of work or site-specific installation by an artist as their first solo exhibition in the United States. The exhibition includes a series of Koop’s preparatory paintings, offering a catalogue of the artist’s inspiration and process.
Koop created eight large-scale works for a chapel-sized gallery. “On seeing the space, I was thrilled with it because it is intimate and beautiful,” Koop said. “I created this scale and number of paintings so they would fill the room.”
Koop’s use of color creates luminous and richly colored works. She uses up to 20 thin washes of paint in her work. “Reflect” illustrates how she builds up her color. “This painting started out florescent pink and then gradually numerous layers of magenta, deep burgundy, reds, florescent reds. The richness of this color comes from the layering,” Koop said. “The way I use color is I look at it psychologically. I use it the way a singer might use their range, where you might shatter a glass at one end. I’m not using it for color’s sake. I’m using it to give urgency or luminosity.”
Drops of paint represent tears or windowpanes. The drop of paint in “Spill” represents oil, reflecting Koop’s social conscience and her awareness of humanity’s impact on nature. “My paintings are not necessarily political. I am political and I’m aware and so I’m asking questions, but I’m also making something beautiful and life-affirming,” Koop said. “Art, in my opinion, is one of the greatest and most beautiful things we have of our humanity. What I try to do is bridge my observations with this knowledge I have as an artist.”
The exhibition name “Dreamline” is inspired by airline fleet flying from Los Angeles to London. “Look Up” is closely linked to the inspiration. Koop used drops of paint to create the effect of looking out of a plane’s window at the endless ethereal horizon. “To paint the painting, I painted it sort of feeling like I was falling out of a plane,” Koop said.
Koop painted the work on the floor, visualizing it before she started. “For me, it’s knowledge of how to make something feel, what colors I need to use and how much color I need in order to make something happen, what I’m trying to communicate,” Koop said.
The works envelope visitors, requiring time to absorb Koop’s nuances. “The paintings are very contemplative. They need time. When you give them time, there’s a special thing that happens that is very much a part of the work,” Koop said. “But if you work through it too quickly, you might not get it.”
“Sandra Cinto: Landscape of a Lifetime” will be on view through July 5. “Concentrations 62: Wanda Koop, Dreamline” will be on view through February 2.