Red Velvet, Orange Crush, Tura Oliveira

February 24 - April 16, 2022

Geary is pleased to present Red Velvet, Orange Crush by Tura Oliveira, at 208 Bowery and Geary Millerton.

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Oliveira’s new collection of sculptural and quilted works capture moments when the veil between worlds thins and opens, and cosmic phenomena come down to earth. The textile works in the the exhibition take the form of orificial ovals: these precipices and portals call to mind the moments before a figure steps into something wholly new; the rippling sensation of a world that is about to change.

Red Velvet, Orange Crush is a space to commune with the work: in Oliveira’s I am weak with much giving, I am weak with the desire to give more, a silk velvet form has the look of a volcanic vent for a subterranean fire, or a carnivorous flower, and calls back to the origins of the silk fabric in the show: tiny threads unraveled from the cocoons of silk moths. At 208 Bowery, an immersive wash of color radiates out into the space from within the cocoon. A long tentacle snakes out from the sculpture, beckoning the viewer to step closer, to perhaps merge and be enveloped in the folds of the creature, and to submit to its power.

The two large quilts at Geary Millerton both use pieced, hand dyed cotton, and cyanotypes on silk. The cyanotype is a photogram process invented by a nineteenth century astronomer that was often used to document plant life. The figurative cyanotypes create otherworldly images that seem just outside of our understanding. This process’s origins in the cataloging and categorization of the natural world by Western scientists contrasts with the imagery of the quilts, which positions desire and touch as modes of reconfiguring the cosmos, and human beings as enmeshed in the natural world rather than as dispassionate observers of it. The works visualize the entanglement of the figures in their environment, and the stitching creates lines around the moments of movement or touch that ripple outward to shift and change the world around them.


The opening is a culmination of rupture and pleasure. It is unruly. What happens at the opening? Everything. All that has come apart joins now with all that could be conspiring to pass. Finally we are at the beginning, and it is possible to let go the old habits of sequence, law, and logic. Order is not yet an expectation or container. Neither has it fallen into language or story. Briefly, beautifully, nothing is anything, other than itself.

Could we conceive opening less as moment or site, and instead as orientation? Anarchic manner? Tura Oliveira’s Red Velvet, Orange Crush unfolds in all directions with the gestures, contours, and vibrations of opening. Formally the exhibition and its constitutive parts eschew angular, linear notions of composition. The images’ frames rhapsodize on curves, circles, spirals, arches. Color envelops and proceeds around them in a spectrum of light, which is also of course an expression of time – though not within any convention of clock or even day.

Everything begins from everywhere and reaches everywhere else.  The action is radiant and simultaneous, within individual pieces as well. Figures gaze into channels and portals. The fires of the cosmos illuminate and enlarge our perceptions of the earthly. Germinal structures bloom without delimiting the possibilities of their afterlives.

In other work of Oliveira’s, complex structures of relation are rendered in elaborate visual mythologies. Here though, we encounter something perhaps more expansive, or differently expansive, in scenes of private imagination. A tide pool becomes, for a goddess, a mirror to the stars. An aura of discovery breaks across a figure gazing into a groove of rock. A pair of clay vessels – “Listening Bowls” – suggest the work of hydromancy, though notably without drawing us into any particular sigil. There is a different freedom happening, still about to happen, from these various precipices. Other worlds, beyond and inside of this one, are being revealed to figures not ourselves – and by holding open the horizons of their specific substance, what portals might extend concentrically within us?

Still, the work foregrounds ecology in scene and certainly in practice. We see the various alliances, balancing acts, and symbioses which form a range of ecosystems, particularly those situated at margins. What kinds of thriving and resilience arise from extremis? What kinds of brilliance occur in the edges, the places overlooked? There is an analogy of interdependence here with the material contexts of the work – found fabric donated by the Eastport community living alongside the coastal sites portrayed. Textile articulates unfathomable rings of contact, past life, past embodiment, from origins of plantform (as in cotton) to insect (as in silk), continuing through human exchange, and landing now into the flesh, terrain, and water of the work displayed. It is again an extraordinary vision of time, a circular and choral story exalting many hands and voices.

In method we find trinities of work, pleasure, and study. Cyanotyped silk recalls the archiving of plantlife. Monotyped velvet emphasizes the physical rigor of the making – how much bodily is required to arrive at waves of color. And from all of this, some haptic halo issues forth. We think in touch, the first or last sense surrounding speech. The work rides on reverie, its various tides and winds, on feeling. What feeling is. What it does, and where it goes.

Kyle Dacuyan, February 2022


Tura Oliveira is an interdisciplinary artist based in Brooklyn, New York.

Tura Oliveira

She holds an MFA from Yale and is a graduate of the Rhode Island School of Design. She has exhibited and performed in venues including Vox Populi, Wave Hill, BRIC, SPRING/BREAK Art Show, Paradice Palase, SOHO20, Ars Nova, Judson Memorial Church, Brown University and a solo booth with Geary at Feria Material in Mexico City. She has received awards and residencies from MAD, AIR Gallery, Yaddo, BRIC, The Tides Institute, and Ars Nova. She was a 2019 Van Lier Fellow at Wave Hill, and a 2020 NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellow. Oliveira has had solo exhibitions at Geary in 2022 and LaMaMa Galleria in 2022. She is currently an Abbey Awards Fellow at the British School at Rome.