Waves of Dark History Break on an Olympic Pool

“It’s fake,” Ms. Varejão said, laughing, her brown curls falling forward on her face. “I love the fake.”

Both seascapes mimic the experience of being surrounded by whorling waves, as if from a swimmer’s point of view. “I was looking for the sensation of vertigo,” Ms. Varejão explained, “so someone can be totally immersed in a sea of Baroque waves.”

Carla Camurati, director of the cultural programs for Rio 2016, encountered “Celacanto” on a scouting trip to Instituto Inhotim, the expansive art park in the southeastern province of Minas Gerais, where she was seeking visual artists to round out the cultural programs for the Games.


Adriana Varejão, an artist whose work is steeped in a history that is dark and complex.

Vicente de Mello

Ms. Varejão’s is among Inhotim’s largest pavilions, which are scattered amid 2,500 lush acres and function as permanent solo galleries for contemporary artists. Ms. Varejão, who has two children, is married to Pedro Buarque de Hollanda, a film producer.

The pavilion’s upper floor is devoted to “Celacanto…

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