Daniel Senise’s Complex Minimalism

SÃO PAULO, Brazil — The story of the Brazilian art movement Generation 80 is often told as a return to painting: rather than a definitive break with the hegemony of abstraction in its numerous guises (Concrete, Neo-Concrete, New Figuration, and Tropicalia), it is an absorption of abstract styles into a renewed interest in loosely defined figurative painting. Generation 80 artists who immediately come to mind, such as Beatriz Milhazes, Luiz Zerbini, and Leda Catunda, are as indebted to geometric abstraction as they are to expressionism (Zerbini), to textiles as support (Catunda), and to popular and commercial materiality (Milhazes). Recent works by many Generation 80 painters are notable for their often vibrant colors, forceful patterning, and incredible compositional denseness.

Daniel Senise’s paintings, by contrast, are grand yet sparse. At first glance, they appear coolly cerebral. One must stand close to the canvas’s surface to observe that, in fact, they are teeming with detail. Not accidentally, my recent experience of Senise’s work, at the Museum of Contemporary Art MAC-USP, in São Paulo, where he’s having a career survey featuring 37 paintings dating from 1992 to 2022, felt like detective work — an association reinforced by Senise’s naming one of his sprawling canvases, a monotopia of wooden detritus and acrylic on canvas, “Detective” (2007).

Featured image: Daniel Senise, “Biografo LXXXIV” (2017)

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