Daniel Senise

The Intimacy of Painting

Viviane Mosé

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

The exhaustion of painting’s capacity as a language results from the collapse of a network that is more complex than the mere fraying of its possibilities. Today that which was once, and still is, made an issue is more than the limit of painting; it is the symbolic activity itself, human thought. Today we are aware of the unfeasibility of the Platonic protect of arriving at life essence through representation.

Such unfeasibility results not only from the constraints of representation, but also from the lack of life essence. Representation does not arrive at the essence because there is no essential truth behind things. Things themselves are the hidden surface of things. This perspective allows the broadening of the sign insofar as it frees the sign from the supremacy of the meaning. At the same time, it causes the tumbling of the bases on which all conceptual human construction was propped. The structure of thought itself seems to tumble. Ultimately, all that is left to an art that resists dying along with its concepts is to reinvent itself, and today this implies the reinvention of thought.

“How to produce something unexpected when there is no more expectation?”

While insisting on his quest for something that pertains to painting, Daniel Senise works on something that postmodernity viewed as superseded. First of all, the artist actualizes the statute so as to make painting not only into an agent but also a model. Then, painting paints itself, and in this process turns into a landscape in its own right.

Absence is the landscape of painting: now to paint is but to utilize signs that are none other than the signs of painting. In this operation, the landscape is not delivered only by the eye, but also through the collection of representations amassed by culture. Daniel Senise paints absence, and in so doing not only discusses the exhaustion of representation, but mainly reinstates the painting space. That which was once viewed as ending, here is the beginning of his work.

Initially Senise takes up and works with what is leftover after the tumbling: traces from art history, from the realm of imagery, from the cultural industry and its collective imaginary. In these works, nearly monumental forms impose themselves although without denoting any particular theme. They are loose images, freed from the imprisonment of the meaning, “fragments of something that has forgotten the whole and is searching for another existence”. The careful treatment of the surface with an increasing number of overlays discusses the relationship between figure and background. By and large, the isolated forms are applied on the background in such a way that they appear to be part of the surface. Images result from a certain articulation between surface and representation. “This articulation is only feasible because the medium, determined by the type of treatment dispensed to the support, embodies the painted objects on the canvas surface”. Senise’s painting renders a landscape that is increasingly more inherent to painting, as if the plane unfolded into surface and representation entered a dialogue with itself.

What we see in his recent production is a heightening of the tension found in previous works. Now the assertion of the support stems from the folds of the painting surface. Various patches of floor-pattern transfers are cut out and pasted to form the image. The image is internal to the surface, and, at the same time, external to it. On occasion, the landscape, i.e. the design formed by cutout floor transfers, disappears; at times, we see a surface of overlaid floors; at times, a landscape. The previous tension between surface and image remains, except that now, inside the surface itself. Here, fabric is the support, and floor is the imprint. Senise explores the intimacy of surface, and there he constructs his landscape. ln this space, between fabric and floor, is where he positions us. Before the immense patches of floor transfers cut out and pasted so as to form wall and ceiling, doors and openings, or flooring itself, we are spectators of the intimacy of painting.

“Today, nature is language.”

The transfer is the record of the floor’s absence, like a drawing or word on a page, the floor transfer is an image. At the same time, this image doubles as a surface, and this surface-image doubles into a new image, the represented space. Then, once again, it doubles as space in which the work has been constructed. The image is therefore a fold of the surface that is doubled again and again.

At the same time that he brings the predominance of representation to the viewers’ attention, Daniel Senise utilizes patches torn from the landscape (the flooring] to build his representation: a floor (medium) that remains in the absence of a floor (image). The transfer conveys the presence/absence of the floor, which in a way is a return to the material medium, simultaneous with its disappearance.

The ending of truths and essences is also the ending of oppositions. Without disappearing and yet conserving their singularity, figure and background, surface and image, figuration and abstraction, are still coincidental. The prevailing succession is replaced by simultaneity. Art is no longer opposite to thought, just as the medium is not opposite to representation.