In a sonic landscape filled with diverse sounds and influences, Jimi Hendrix's "Purple Haze" transcends boundaries and offers a one-of-a-kind auditory experience. The song's mesmerizing melodies, coupled with Hendrix's innovative guitar techniques, evoke a sense of euphoria and disorientation all at once. Sensory perceptions mirror the experience of encountering the paintings of Teresa Murta (b. 1993, Lisbon, living and working in Berlin) for the first time. The artist's works are imbued with a rich and poetic palette that energizes the canvas, much like the rich texture of riffs in "Purple Haze" resonates through Hendrix's guitar. They frequently contain bold hues and contrasting tones that create a sense of dynamism, drawing the viewer's attention and evoking strong emotional responses.
The 1960s hippie generation that Hendrix shaped and greatly influenced created a countercultural movement that rejected prevailing societal norms and embraced peace, love, and individual freedom. This cultural shift became a platform for expressing alternative ideologies and challenging authority. Exploring new boundaries and seeing things in a different light became a core value. It is within this backdrop that the song "Purple Haze" was born.
In the spirit of freedom, love, and expression, the paintings produced in this series and on display in "Purple Haze, But Better Together" form a cohesive body of work. Deliberately placed, curated, and contextualized, they highlight their own unique narrative. The paintings are full of unexpected combinations, couplings, and distortions that disrupt the viewer's sense of logic and perception. At the heart of the artist's practice, Murta seeks to engage the audience on an emotional and subconscious level, allowing for personal interpretations and introspection.
"I can be thinking about anything and everything at the start, but throughout the process, the shapes are being grasped, as are my thoughts and feelings," the artist notes when starting a work. "My urge is to create problems that need to be solved. By spontaneously destroying the infinite blankness of a canvas, the problems emerge."
Taking a closer look at the paintings in this series, within "Bubble Bath" (Oil and acrylic on linen, 2023), Murta delves fully into the realm of abstraction, infusing the painting with a touch of surrealism. The work itself highlights the dreamlike aesthetic the artist effortlessly achieves, as indistinguishable objects and figures become distorted and merge with their surroundings.
This blurring of boundaries between reality and imagination adds an intriguing layer of depth to her painting, inviting viewers to interpret and engage with her pieces in the same way one may when hearing Hendrix for the first time.
In "Dizzy" (Oil on wood panel, 2023), another core example of her pursuit of problem-solving, her expressive brushwork is accentuated with confident and gestural strokes. She captures the anonymous essence of her subjects, whether it's a still life, a figure, a potential landscape, or unrecognizable marks... this is for us to ponder. The sense of movement and spontaneity, though, gives the work a lively and dynamic quality. The vibrant purple backdrop adds a dramatic sense of unease. We are exploring her world through her unique perspective.
The works of Teresa Murta may leave us with more questions than answers, and that is the point. Just as when we first encounter a song that resonates strongly with us, perhaps like the first time we listen to "Purple Haze," what matters is what we take away from it. Great art doesn't need to be disguised with a definite reason of why. Much like the ideals embodied by the 1960s counterculture movement, it values poetic nature, harmony, questioning, a sense of escapism, and the ability to create new boundaries. Sometimes, that is what is really needed... James Ambrose