The Andaluz Floor
Published in the catalog of the artist’s exhibition at the Cavalariças, Escola de Artes Visuais do Parque Lage, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 2001
Daniel Senise’s paintings come from the floor, made to rub one’s eye into the floor, to squat one’s attention onto it, and go. It’s a floor for the passage of the eye.
The floor is the biggest place in the world. Everything that exists in the world fits on a floor. Even the mountains have their floor, however invisible. The floor overlaps with the surface of the earth. When we imagine the surface of the earth as an endless floor, it’s because we feel that man is at home in any place. The floor is when the idea of home projects itself all over the place. The surface, the skin of the earth.
The production of the works occurs in a sequence of phases, from the recognition of the horizontal floor – the ground surface, to the painting taking on its definitive verticality. The notion of “image” encounters an unprecedented redefintion. See how the operation functions: the white cloth is coated with a mixture of glue and pigment and then spread out across the floor, like a contact lense or an arquitectonic shroud. Pressure is applied to this cloth so that it acquires an absolute intimacy with the floor that is to become its destiny. When it is lifted, the cloth brings with it the invisible dust, the marks of the grooves, the remains, the imperfections, the wear&tear, thefruits of its use as a path, of human traffic and all its accidents – all things that have released upon it the material micro-evidence of a time that is already pure memory. The cloth is then mounted onto a wooden surface where it is pressed flat and impeccable, forming a zone of unpredictability. Abstract painting without the intervention of the human hand. “Applied” painting, literally.
The process continues. Other fragments of this cloth, revelations of the same floor, are cut out according to segments whose seams constitute the vanishing lines of a perspective drawing. The drawing relates to the actual original space – which may be a museum gallery or the artist’s actual studio. These segments of cloth are glued against the background in a way that they merge with it, creating a scene. The juxtapositions construct an image which appears almost as a traced photograph of the space. What was once an informal abstraction, indeterminate, made up of accidental marks, chaotic and without significance, now becomes a basis for an unexpected recuperation of the figure. Just take a closer look. We now see, the complete representation of the space to which that floor belonged. The walls, the ceiling and all the details are made out of the occurences of the floor. It is not, of course, a typical photograph. But maybe a “monotypical” photograph, since in fact it is pure painting. Here the floor is transformed into an Idea, just as Love is an idea in a Michelangelo sonnet. Senise the neo-Platonist.
I saw these paintings when they were still propped up on easels in Daniel Senise’s studio, horizontally, floating just above floor level but preparing for the rotation that would elevate them to an erect position. I don’t know why but I am fixated on that moment when what was flat and horizontal shifts and is reoriented. It’s as if it were an inaugural act, an epic moment. Daniel’s paintings are big and recquire at least two people to raise them, a small multitude. Monumentality made up of dust. An epic shift that should be preserved in the perceptive memory of these works, for that is where the true transformation into the final phase occurs. Emanation. We must let our eyes travel across this vertical surface called painting that Daniel Senise offers us. The eye does not need to move much along this surface, on the contrary, the bliss comes from letting the eye dwell softly on one central spot, and the dust captured on the surface begins to radiate, and the gaze begins to penetrate to an impossible depth. Scan the vertical plane merging with the wall, while aware of its essential horizontality originating in the floor. One and the other, the floor and the painting risen from the floor, together form an orthogonal cross, and establish in an unexplored area of the mind, the pure axes of perspective. Might we be standing before an unrestored pre-Renaissance mural? The color, the lines, the scenes – the history of painting accelerates the imagination. Before this vertical floor, all we can do is to continue perceiving. Perspective was, basically, always about the floor. Perspective was born of a reflection about the pre-Renaissance floor, the tileworks of churches and courtyards. It was the floor that best expressed the name of the place. Next to the floor, even the walls were mere scenography. The floor defined the informal form of the space. The floor as a gameboard, an abstract checkerboard, as a display of coordinates. The floor both limits and constitutes the actual space where the scene is to be erected. The floor was the actual place. The theoretical floor, clean, antiseptic, immaterial, generated from a geometric placenta.
In Senise, we have another floor, where a new radicality in corporeal experience is inscribed. Visual perception, literally post-retinal, and not without the necessary dose of irony. Dust marks are non signifying objects. Materially speaking, they are the signifier of non-signifiers. Contemporary art pursues the automatism of non-signification to exhaustion. But Daniel Senise turns the screw one more time. The marks and traces on the actual floor arise from contact. Feet, objects dragged, deposits of all sorts, there is a story told by every floor. The idea of the passage itself, of the transitory and of the permanent. The mark on the floor arises from contact, a copy of a contact, as in photography without amplification, a contact print of the thing itself. The floor as a “photographic” contact sheet. And Daniel Senise’s canvas covers the floor like a contact print of a contact print, opening successive and surprising abysses in the idea of printing. As in all contact proofs, light is needed. But here it is not a light to see, but a light to walk on. (“O Chão Andaluz” = the floor light-walking x “Le Chien Andaloux”).
In the film “Le Chien Andaloux” by Luis Buñuel, the razor blade slices the eyeball transversally, in a radical gesture. It penetrates the eye and tears it open, exposing the inside. In Daniel Senise’s “Chão Andaluz”, we also have an invisible blade, but one that cuts in the other direction, parallel to the surface, merely grazing the object. It skins the object, removing from the floor only the thinnest surface, and to that the name “painting” is given. The skin that is removed is a negative of the floor, that which hovered above it in the infinitesimal blink of a distance close to zero. The metaphor expands and the circuit of operations closes. It is not only about the idea of trajectory and passage, but about all that the force of gravity has unloaded upon humanity in a million years. Never has a painting been so immediate, so stuck to the real, to the instant, and at the same time dealt with such extensive temporalities.