Adelina Gomes (1916-1984) was a humble peasant from the state of Rio de Janeiro. Emotional and affective problems led to her being committed to the National Psychiatric Center in the 1940s. Almir Mavignier introduced her to the painting and sculpture studios that he ran with Nise da Silveira, where Adelina soon showed great expressive capacity and for over a period of thirty years one could track the unfolding of her psychic experiences through painted or sculpted images.
Her sculptures possess an archaism which remind us of the great goddesses of the Stone Age. In the paintings, the prevalent themes are plant and animal metamorphoses and the encounter between man and woman. The richness of her trajectory and the power of her art were shown in the feature film No Reino das Mães (“In the Kingdom of Mothers”), directed by Leon Hirszman in 1982 and part of his Imagens do Inconsciente trilogy.
Adelina Gomes (1916-1984) depicted the metamorphoses of plants in many of her paintings. One day, without being noticed, she removed from a shelf that stored 900 paintings by different authors, precisely her painting in which she had for the first time portrayed flowers that were not fused with a female figure.
Adelina repainted this canvas, superimposing a woman's face over the flowers that filled the vase and giving it the shape of a cat's head with a sinister expression. Nise da Silveira compared this work to a painting by surrealist artist Victor Brauner, which addresses the same themes – woman, cat, and flower. About Brauner, Antonin Artaud said that he knew “the manifold states of the self, each more dangerous than the other.”
Nise da Silveira appropriated this expression to describe the experience of psychosis, substituting the diagnostic terms used in traditional psychiatry. Madness would then be the lived experience of those manifold states, with the danger residing in the possibility of losing the integrity of being.