Daniel Senise

The Construction of Painting

Felipe Chaimovich


Published in the catalog of the artist’s exhibition at the Galeria Brito Cimino, São Paulo, Brazil, in 2001 

Painting is construction. By overlaying fabric, paint, and iron shavings, Daniel Senise constructs archaeological sites. Then, like in an exploration of historical strata, the audience is invited to rebuild links that connect the building parts.

The artist took up constructive discipline in the eighties. Ever since then, his cretonne canvases are treated with a primer layer of glue and pigment. In voile pictures, he replaces the undercoat with the transparency of coexisting pictorial levels. In both cases, textures and objects round out the architecture.

However, Senise’s painting follows an agenda of international issues. To survive the constant swarming of new media to the artistic stage, this painting must justify the lasting of exclusive problems from the material and historical viewpoints. On the one hand, the artist renders the material essence of technique as theme in each work. He revisits basal operations with the concurrence of new materials. He has set aside the certainty of traditional combinations, and only little by little, mastered the resistance and durability of iron shavings, glue, and cloth. Thus, the reinterpretation of velaturas and gradations also results from experimental findings.

On the other hand, the historical heritage of the great Eurocentric painting becomes a conceptual horizon in two aspects. Senise’s most immediate reference is contained in the repertoire itself: Friedrich, Whistler etc. But the fundamental legacy is revealed in the characteristic mode of pattern transferring he uses to create portraits and landscapes. Each image springs from rituals that incorporate values of classical Surrealism: chance, displacement, and fusion.

Yet, the universal inheritances of painting are interpreted under the light of the artist’s creative media. Senise recovers general aspects that inform his conveyance of designs from his studio flooring onto cloth. The painter’s workshop is condition for his trade, and the canvas, shroud with floor impressions. The transferred design then becomes the basis for his pictorial work. The underpainting is treated as scheme to which the subsequent composition is subordinated. Painting occurs only in the foreground, thus preserving the opacity of the original monotype on canvas.

In Senise’s output, the recorded impression of the site functions as an archeological element. The picture becomes an analyzable construction, beginning from operations on the primitive lines of the fabric. Any representation of spatiality appears as derivation of the planar surface. The fictional aspect of painting poses an issue to be tackled. Offhand, the illusionary perspective would seem incompatible with the decision to conserve a monotypic platitude; thence the challenge that leads to the current production.

In the course of six months, the artist gazed at a series of transfers he produced in a summer in Greenpoint. The varied hues were obtained in the conveyance of parallel lines from the flooring. The viewing of these lines as elements of drawing enlightened his discussion with perspective heritage. Then, Senise started up a series of collages composing architectural spaces. In the last couple of years, he has rendered different venues that are hardly identifiable. Instead, he has focused the geometric composition of the picture, now using transfer impressions as part of his illusionist system.

The collage functioned as a jigsaw puzzle. Starting from a scheme, the artist sought among the patches of fabric the hues and designs that best fitted the intended project. The cutting of fabric into strips supplied him the necessary angles for the inlays of lines and the hues for the chiaroscuro effect. Among the selected themes, Senise chose to reproduce vacant museum buildings. In these works, vast spaces emerge from gloomy colors. They are uninhabited and their walls are naked. They bathe in the indefinite lighting of dreams.

These canvases show the locus of art exhibitions so as to better claim entitlement to permanence. The painter coordinates the platitude of the parts with the illusionist whole, thus exposing the concurrence of intent and chance in the construction of his work.

Senise confirms his profession of faith. While upholding the discussion on the current meaning of pictorial technique, the sets of pictures shown in São Paulo attest to the continuity of a research that does not avoid exploratory plunge into an objective agenda