Daniel Senise

The Chinese Vase

Agnaldo Farias

Published in the catalog of the artist’s exhibition Mostra Daniel Senise 2000-2006 at Museu Oscar Niemeyer, in Curitiba, 2006.

The interview with Daniel Senise during two meetings in the heat of the Rio summer yielded more than expected. And we did not expect little. It finally took place after systematically following his work for seven years, with no moderation when he moved to New York, fed by electronic mal, which, as everyone knows, differs from the classic epistolary literature of writing paper, envelope, stamps and patience, in possessing a swiftness that allows correspondence about anything from serious issues to nonsense and the other bagatelles with which we relieve the daily load which, let us say in passing, is not easy to endure in our country.

From this contact arose an exhibition and a book, as well as scattered writings and oral presentations, all deriving from an involvement that was always interested and never frustrated. The timely interest of the Museu Oscar Niemeyer Museum in Curitiba, the keen discernment of Fabio Coutinho’s offer, and the notable transcribing ability of Priscyla Freitas Gomes, now brings this interview to the public as a signicant by-product of a major exhibition based on the artist’s recent works, planned especially for the people of Paraná.

Not before time. The name of the Rio artist, Daniel Senise, is possibly the first to come to mind when considering the ’80s Generation, which will always rightly be associated with the moment contemporary Brazilian art established itself and expanded. His work is among the most consistent, and as such deserves greater recognition. Not just his work, it is true. We have not yet moved beyond the stage of divulging our art to the level worthy of our principal artists. In 2006 we still live with the paradoxical situation that the visual arts in Brazil remain invisibile. But we are improving. This Museu Oscar Niemeyer, together with other serious institutions that excel in the care of their exhibitions and the forming of collections, is one example of this.

One of the errors presented by lack of knowledge and the uncritical reading of superficial information insists on situating the artistic production of the ’80s as something founded on the binomial of art and pleasure. Daniel Senise is part of the more definitive evidence of how groundless this idea is. This is an aspect that the later development of his work, of which a small yet impressive portion is now being shown, fully confirms. This artist’s work, as the attentive reader will notice, underpinned by the words and images of this catalogue alone or with the privilege of seeing the works firsthand, resonates with the restlessness with which it experiments with time, is aware of its ductile materiality, transforming it into fibres to better weave his canvases. And because it deals with time, his work is never, and never could be, gentle, effusive, or joyful. Time is a serious master, as his canvases are serious, with their earthy tones, their shadowy architecture, their persistent evocation of the ground, their strong and impregnating images, wrought on a monumental scale that guarantees them a silent eloquence.

The attentive visitor will notice that one of the essential rules in Daniel Senise’s poetics consists of a play of references. Inventor of, and invented by time, language, in this case visual language, more precisely some of the various expressive forms and lexicons invented over centuries, appears to be rearranged in these canvases. It will be possible to recognise familiar images, or at least familiar forms of representation, the particular way he makes a criticism of painting, reflects on its raison d’être today. Which is why the general climate is vague and the eyes move with no solution to gratify their curiosity.

It is, then, difficult work. Attractive, nevertheless. Capable of leaving us in a state of alertness, like those sleepless nights when, in a state of wakefulness, we scrutinise the objects and spaces of our home, which, submerged in the night, are regenerated by contact with mystery.