Daniel Senise

Shroud and Forgetting

Paulo Herkenhoff


Published in the catalog of the artist’s exhibition at the Galeria Camargo Vilaça,  São Paulo, Brazil, in 1993 

Daniel Senise’s painting tell us it is impossible to forget. 

There is nothing more appropriate here than the concept of a shroud: conjecture and desire for the truth, fantasy and simulation of the truth, the body as agent and memory of its own history. The cynicism, in that which is characterized as post-modernity, questions and investigates whether the soul is the prison of art. The historical eschatology of the autonomy of modern art, establishing art history itself as the “ultimate destiny” of art, converges toward the generation of symbols in Daniel Senise’ s work. The artist sets up an impasse, having to resolve between the polemic silence in the phantasmagoria of Beckett’ s theater (Wilson Coutinho) and the excess of history as a potential horizon of creation.

A vocabulary is articulated in an ambiguous area of memory and forgetting. What emerges from an empty background of Daniel Senise’ s painting, a conjectural space and hypothesis of a phantasmal territory, are symbols of an excess of knowledge of art history, revolving in a post-metaphysical “re-memory”. The empty background, before the symbol, lies like the desert of abstraction in art history.

It is the absolute horizon. And what unfolds is a psychological landscape. For Daniel Senise, the appropriations of art history are more than quotations of images. The artist addresses them also as stylistic questions and problems, understanding that their dimensions are set by the era they define. There are negative images, similar to those in Caspar David Friedrich’ s “Owl in a Gothic Window” (1836), and, as in another work, the position of a girl (an image taken from a book in “Mother Goose” nursery rhymes) with her back to the espectator as she appreciates the panoramic landscape of symbols. These two paintings clearly refer to the tradition of Romanticism. In the second painting, the girl becomes the finite romantic subject facing the infinity of the universal. If there is nostalgia in those bone-like archaic symbols, the girl also has a glimpse of the future. There is still, as in Bocklin’ s discourse, a possible allusion to a vocabulary of darkness, inherent in the language of light, as a doubt, a need, anguish and limit.

The method of the emergence of painting, as the epiphany of a state of matter and image, refers to a transmission of corporeity and the passage of a body that was never there. The shroud is thus a method and no longer an image. It is set as a process of experience made present. If, in a narcissistic dimension, personal mythologies and collective beliefs are worth as much as the historicity of images, then painting, on one level, presents itself as a quality of memory. The skin from the studio floor is incorporated into the painting. In this operation, the rust from nails – a transmission of the image in traces and particles, directed toward the construction of given form – defines a pictorial work, which develops organically with the atmosphere. In the tension between memory and forgetting, Daniel Senise’s painting does not simulate the aging of time. What is torn and transposed from the studio environment as a “base”, a background and starting point of the work is the actual worldly matter, impregnated in a body – the painting.

In Daniel Senise’s iconology, a fragment of a painting, a vestige of the history of art is a readymade symbol. Marcel Duchamp considered that everything was derived from the readymade, from the most personal painting (however extracted from an industrial tube of paint), to one of us, ultimately, the product of readymade parents. In Daniel Senise’s work “Despacho”, the twin silhouettes of a woman, taken from Whistler’s “Portrait of the Artist’s Mother” (1883) brings yet another level to the shroud work. Facing each other in a mute dialogue of the same mother, it is both a waiting and a specular situation. Underlying the delicate atmosphere and the distant pathos of Whistler’s mother, is the idea of the transmission of life and the transference of an image.

Copulation and procreation, it has been said, reproduce the image, as does the mirror.