The myth that is Hollywood is built of dreams, melodramatic stories of fame and fortune. The reality of Hollywood, the neighborhood, is often significantly less glamorous: more sooty freeway overpass than broad, palm-tree-lined boulevard. The real Hollywood is home to the poor and the transient. It’s a place of immigrant families and trans sex workers. However disparate these two narratives might appear, the foundation of both Hollywoods is desire. Desire for the good life, desire for pleasure, the same desire that is the subtext of every real estate pitch ever schemed. The characters in de Magalhaes’ work explore both sides of this motive, envisioning the sensual slime of a slug’s trail, and the breathtaking beauty of a candy-colored smog sunset. Her creatures of choice may seem soft and playful—little white kittens batting around a maraschino cherry, say—but inside every house cat dwells an untamed beast, all the more potent for its containment.
de Magalhaes’ aesthetic is decidedly feminine: her palette all soft pinks and glossy whites, her chosen mediums of textile and ceramic long relegated to the ghetto of ‘craft.’ But it would be ill-advised to mistake these characteristics for frivolity—their soft, pleasing exteriors belie a steely inner core of strength. That the exhibition space is also a domestic one only heightens the work’s psychological vibrations. The home becomes a stand-in for the interior space of the mind, a place where things are not just fantastical but also grossly biological. Inside this magical world are cherries and mushrooms but also oversized turds swirled like creamy frosting. Out of the corner of your eye, naughty creatures swallow, ingest and extrude in hidden corners. The sensual pleasure of the abject in de Magalhaes hands becomes as powerfully compelling as its inverse.
By telling their stories via animals, fables leave open narrative possibilities that would otherwise be circumscribed. This allows the characters to play the role of revealer, exposing fallacies in human society. This malleability also lends strength and resilience to a tale. de Magalhaes intuits this and creates her creatures with this intent. Often they are stand-ins for nebulous natural impulses, the emotions that fuel desire. They allow for multiple interpretations to be made, which provides spaces for commonality and intersection to be found.