Daniel de Paula’s artistic practice is grounded on a mutual influence between his direct relationship with the physical context and a critical reflection on the bureaucratic, historical, economic, political and social structures that shape it.
The use of elements that take us back to a common urban experience, such as street lamps, lightning rods, automotive components, among others, grant, at a first glance, a ready-made status to his pieces. But the process of conceiving the works goes beyond an exercise of appropriation, displacement and decontextualization of objects that the artist subtracts to the city. The objets trouvés category does not entirely fit to items that he uses, as these are not arbitrary findings but the result of extensive negotiations with and between various public and private agents. Such agreements and processes are subtly made intelligible to the public through the use of accompanying explanatory technical sheets, the use of accurate titles, or the documentation of the work’s process. Nevertheless, these solutions are not intended to facilitate the understanding of the work, but to underline the indivisibility between the displayed items and the context from which they emerged.
With this methodology as a basis, Daniel de Paula articulates a simultaneously precise and varied lexicon. An uprooted imperial palm tree which diagonally intersects an automobile trunk; public street lamps that rest in equilibrium on the ground, having their intensity controlled by light-sensitive cells that respond to daylight; a group of automotive headlights, arranged such as the constellation of the Southern Cross, which turn off to the viewer’s movement; once immobile traffic pickets, gliding through the exhibition space to the public’s desire. All these interferences not only subvert the original function of these elements but also create a symbolic inversion that turns them into animated objects that are sensitive to their surrounding context and to the viewer’s presence. This strong tension between mobility and permanence, themes that run through his work, is expressed in a more evident way in a series of dérives that the artist has completed while reading books such as “The Great Labyrinth” by Oiticica or “Six Years: The Dematerialization of the Art Object from 1966 to 1972 ” by L. Lippard. Books that give us subtle clues to decode his artistic practice.
But the performative character of his production does not come necessarily from performance, but from the continuous reformulation of the logics, that he deduces and learns, from the objects’ own behavior and history as well as their contexts. An exercise that enables him to activate a specific potentiality that is constitutive of them, even if at first sight paradoxical. This reformulation comes from a posture that is not incarcerated in the field of art, but is open to intersections from notions of geography, geology, astronomy, architecture and urbanism. However, the impetus is not a multidisciplinary self-proclamation but an inevitability characteristic of those who seek to challenge the normativity of the limits imposed by orthodox ideological and spatial systems.
Bruno de Almeida | 2015.09.01