Brasília, Brazil, 1982.
Lives and works in Goiânia, Brazil.
Represented by Sé Galeria
PIPA Prize 2017 and 2018 nominee.
Dalton Paula has been transiting through painting, object, installation, performance, photography and video, without establishing a hierarchical order between the different media and without losing its expressive poetic potential, since the choice of each support comes from the poetic idea that the artist intends to make true. In this open panorama, there are seams that aligned the parts making them a cohesive set, structured by actions that are repeated or alternate, that affect or reverberate, which are made explicit or left veiled, to each fragment. These actions are marked by the critical interpretation of historical or daily events, by the impregnation of a religious, mystical aspect, coming from the Afro-Brazilian cults, by the use of their own body and images of foreign bodies, by the confrontation of alterities between the autobiographical and the other appropriate, by the clash between the strong and the weak, between the master and the slave, for the undoing of the demarcations of the functions and territories of rights, which on the basis of violence were constituted within the Brazilian social system.
Video produced by Do Rio Filmes exclusively for PIPA 2018:
“Coronel Castelo B”, 2013, video, 2’43”
“Dalton Paula and the Black Rebellion”
By Divino Sobral
[Critical text written for the solo show “A Rebelião Negra”, showcased in 2016 at R3 Gabinete, Goiânia, Brazil]
The works produced by Dalton Paula in the past six years have raised questions within the history of black slavery, which unravelled with the trafficking of African peoples to the American continent in the wake of its discovery. Slave labour, which thrived in Brazil from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries, supported the development of the country’s economic cycles from the early years of colonization until virtually the onset of the Republic. Slaves were employed in extracting pau-brasil (Brazil wood), in planting crops such as sugar cane, tobacco, cotton, and coffee, in mining for gold and precious stones, as well as in domestic activities and urban services. For over three centuries a massive African contingent lived in Brazil under appalling conditions and extreme violence, and it was only with the Lei Áurea (Golden Law) that slavery formally ended. However, the abolition did not solve the problems facing the black population, given that it was followed by the complete absence of public policies which would grant rights to former slaves and integrate them into society; hence ensued a serious and unfair process of social exclusion and racial persecution, grounded in a rigid class hierarchy as well as in deep-rooted prejudices within Brazil’s slave society, which considered Africans and their descendants as inferior people – a backward mentality which stills resonates in certain elitist segments of Brazilian contemporary society.
Not even the widely acknowledged role of black people in the formation of the rich Brazilian culture or their contribution to the country’s unique artistic production, from colonial times to the present, or even the theory of miscegenation and pacification of racial disputes proposed by human science scholars – responsible for elucidating Brazilian identity in the twentieth century – managed to undo differences and put an end to racial conflicts embedded in the nation’s core. Black people still live in segregation, marginalized and without access to the benefits of citizenship, enduring continuous violence from the State and from society.
As an artist who embraces his blackness, Dalton Paula clear-headedly addresses the problems caused by slavery, taking into account past and present, broadening his investigative scope, bringing new dimension to architecture in relation to the body, going over places and characters, and becoming contaminated with narratives extracted from the undergrounds of history, that of his country or of elsewhere. When making art, he employs various image sources as well as research and application procedures; he uses different visual categories and establishes, through a given work’s plasticity and concept, a negative critique of official discourses, hence unstructuring representations and tensing the exchanges and appropriations which take place between black and white people, slaves and masters, dominated and dominators.
The exhibition Rebelião Negra (Black Rebellion) brings together eight works produced in different periods and media – painting, object, performance art using photography and video –, with the aim of offering renderings of the diversity of artistic languages and procedures, on the one hand, and of the artist’s deeply political and questioning poetics, on the other; a poetics committed to his life, to the review of historiography, to potentiating the socially excluded, to healing the traumas of slavery. The exhibition seeks to show how Dalton Paula carries out a powerful work which dilates the political, ethical, and social tradition of Brazilian art by addressing hard-hitting issues that need to be examined in the present, both here and elsewhere.
By scavenging through collective memory and searching for sources from the past, the painting “A Rede” (The Net, 2016) updates the representation depicted by Jean-Baptiste Debret (1768-1848) in the second volume of his Viagem Pitoresca e Histórica ao Interior do Brasil (A Picturesque and Historical Voyage to Brazil, 1834-1839). Debret’s book offers an account of slaves’ daily life, work, and punishments, and highlights the crucial role played by black people in the social and cultural formation of nineteenth-century Brazilian society. Dalton Paula removes a few characters from Debret’s original representation: the master being conducted inside a net; the two child slaves; the dog accompanying the group. He retains only the image of two slaves holding a piece of wood from which hangs an empty net, but their directions are now inverted: one heads to the right and the other to the left, in a situation which impedes movement, hinders the exercise of the role at hand, provides relief from labour, and freezes the scene. Dalton Paula also abandons the landscape and represents the figures in an indoor setting, a living room, where there is a shelf on the wall with three garrafadas containing herbs and cachaça – materials used by the artist in several other works.
The work “Retrata Maria” (Portraying Maria, 2015), which addresses various knowledge media, is a set of nine paintings produced on encyclopedia covers. These paintings are based on photographs the artist received from an anonymous white female colleague. Trivial images of romantic scenes and professional and leisure experiences are given new life by a series of resources used by Dalton Paula: removal of the photos’ original backgrounds; selection of specific elements which undo the original narratives; blackening of the character; sequencing of non-linear scenes; merging of expressionism and popular painting. Irony comes through when the artist changes the character’s skin colour and places a black woman where she has never been before, i.e. on the cover of encyclopedias produced by mass-market publishers, responsible for disseminating broad yet superficial knowledge to median segments of Brazilian society. The image of the black woman, excluded both by racism and by sexism, hence triumphs over a symbol of the knowledge accumulated over centuries of eurocentric, white, male theory.
The use of his own body is also a constant feature of Dalton Paula’s work. His black body, alien to the aesthetic standards of consumer society, generally depicted with a bare chest and eyes blindfolded or closed, is a recurrent image in his raw performance proposals as well as in his photo and video performance artworks. The latter are actions that take place away from public scrutiny, watched only by firmly positioned photo and video camera lenses; they are artworks which cannot be viewed separately from the performance, true hybrids shifting between the means of recording and formalizing post-performance.
The work “Máscara” (Mask, 2015) is an object that refers to the artist’s body, having been created for his latest photo performance but never actually exhibited to the public. It was intended to cover both head and face, emulating an orixá headdress. It is a simple yet highly symbolic object, consisting of hundreds of small glass medicine bottles containing a mixture of cachaça, leaves, roots, twigs, and seeds of erva-da-guiné (Petiveria alliacea), or guinea hen weed, woven together by leatherworking thread. These are tiny garrafadas, potions capable of healing or killing, a heritage preserved by the resistance and wisdom of black herbalists.
Guinea hen weed has become popularly known in Brazil as amansa senhor, a plant used to “tame the master”. It was used by slaves acting as priests, who manipulated and distributed potions of poisonous herbs as silent weapons against masters, overseers, and enemies. Poisoning against torture. The plant’s root powder was part of a set of ingredients widely used by those who acted against their oppressors, and its effects were aggressive, powerful, and lethal: lethargy, overexcitement, insomnia, hallucinations, seizures, laryngeal paralysis, and death1.
In the rebellion envisaged by Dalton Paula’s work, guinea hen weed springs forth at various instances and indicates multiple interpretations: a symbol of resistance to oppression and dominance; a means of defence and attack; a cure to slavery’s historical wounds; an orixá leaf and a sacred element of protection.
In the video performance Unguento (Salve, 2015), carried out outside the old slave market in Lençóis – a city located in Chapada Diamantina, Bahia state, and founded during the gold cycle –, Dalton Paula undergoes the ritual of making a strange garrafada by mixing cachaça with glass shards from another cachaça bottle macerated with guinea hen weed. The earliest record of this extremely popular drink dates back to the sixteenth century, and the artist’s rendering of it evokes both the sugar cane cycle, upheld by black labour, and the social prejudice which links cachaça to lower social classes, to black and indigenous people, pariahs, and drunkards abandoned to their fate. The Portuguese word unguento refers to salves used since ancient times to treat several infirmities. The garrafada possesses the same healing purpose, being largely used by the population in mixtures of cachaça and a wide array of herbs, roots, leaves, peels, sap, and animals. However, in the twofold process of healing and defence, the artist ends up producing a garrafada that is capable of killing by internal haemorrhage, hence bringing up to date the image of the foregone priest who treated or poisoned according to his need to tame or kill his master.
Guinea hen weed also features in Dalton Paula’s video performance Implantar Anamu (Implanting Anamu, 2016), carried out during his stay in Habana Vieja, Cuba; the performance took place before the wall of La Cabaña, a grand eighteenth-century fort designed by the Spanish and built by slave labour, imposing itself as a symbol of the architecture of power and punitive control. The fort, which formerly served as a military base and a torture prison, today houses a museum – yet another institution of power which continually applies selection and exclusion criteria not only regarding aesthetic language but also political, social, gender- and race-based aspects. Implantar Anamu is a work that expands Dalton Paula’s experimentations with guinea hen weed and with procedures for grinding objects. Having plunged into the repetition of an obsessive and blind gesture, Dalton Paula drives his body to exhaustion by dilating the time taken to macerate a few ceramic pots in the metal mortar until they are turned to dust, hence expressing a desire to give back to the earth that which had once belonged to it and which human culture had extracted. The work’s long duration evokes the sluggish rhythm of life inside a prison, where days do not go by – they drag by. Dalton Paula performs a ritual to grind what had once been moulded and to plant within the ruins of destruction the antidote against oppression and subjugation; to plant guinea hen weed in the mixture of powder, ceramic shards, and fertile earth from the island, a plant known in Cuba as anamu. This plant binds together the narratives of enslaved black people both in Brazil and in Cuba and through it the artist questions powers and repositions the place of speech and the volume of black voices in relation to past, present, and future.
Devoid of categories and assembling performance, video, and photography, the work Coronel Castelo Negro B (Colonel Castelo Negro [‘black’] B, 2013) also confronts the fusion of military and political powers. The title parodies the name of general Humberto Castelo Branco [‘white’] (1897-1967), the leading army officer involved in the coup of March 1964 and the first president of the military dictatorship, responsible for initiating a dark period marked by the suspension of political rights, repression against left-wing movements, persecution of opponents, and censorship on the right to freedom of intellectual and artistic expression. Dalton Paula creates a self-portrait in which he merges references to the army and military police; he seizes a colonel’s rank insignia, three yellow stars, and sews it onto his bare shoulder. The scene is set on a green landscape where the archaic and active rural coronelismo, or colonels’ rule, is in command, managing the latifundia and agribusiness with oligarchic political force and giving rise to countless conflicts for land ownership and use. Dalton Paula seizes this location and in his rebellion turns history around, assaults power ranks, and leads them to the memory of the shoulders of one with no possessions.
Nilo Peçanha (1867-1924) had a poor background and because of his skin colour was pejoratively called a mulatto by his opponents, despite denying any African descent; against all obstacles facing the social mobility of people from his social class, he became a major political figure and eventually president of Brazil in the early 1900s. This was an admirable feat in a society which had officially ended slavery only twenty-one years before. Peçanha’s name is the title of a video performance in which Dalton Paula, facing the Ministries Esplanade in Brasília, displays the Republic’s coat of arms – the utmost symbol of state power – sewn onto his back, thus introducing the question of how a black man is able to take hold of government instruments.
The video O batedor de bolsa (The pickpocket, 2011) highlights the violence inherent to social exclusion and to society’s racial prejudices, all of which have helped to shape a warped image of criminals and delinquents; marginality has thus become associated with black and poor people, i.e. those who often live without basic possessions but who nevertheless would not resort to stealing. Racism, now a criminal offence, is deep-rooted in Brazilians’ behaviour. Dalton Paula’s work records the performance carried out in the public space of a street in the city’s outskirts, having as background a stained white wall which contrasts with the blackness of the artist’s skin and bag. His action is economic and swift: while holding a truncheon (an object which becomes a weapon at the hands of police officers), he attempts to strike a woman’s bag hanging above his head. He strikes the air blindly until he becomes tired. The bag evokes other meanings, e.g. the stock market where global capital flows and which stands above the majority of the segregated population, or an object which stores the twisted moral and ethical values of urban middle classes. Hence Dalton Paula relives the prejudice he suffered as a child and denounces racial violence while purging the unfair association, generally made by white women, between the image of a poor black boy and that of the street thief who commits petty crimes, known in Brazil as pivete, trombadinha or batedor de carteira/batedor de bolsa.
¹ João José Reis. Domingos Sodré, um sacerdote africano: escravidão, liberdade e candomblé na Bahia do século XIX. São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2008. p. 152.
“Dalton Paula and the Art of Subduing Masters”
By Divino Sobral
[Critical text written for the solo show “Amansa Senhor”, showcased in 2015 at Sé Galeria, São Paulo, Brazil]
“Without slavery, what would be of America’s export trade! Slaves are indispensable for the work in the mines, to extract this precious and much desired metal, these diamonds have been been of great recourse to the state; this lucrative and above all interesting plantation, the main treasure of Brazil, and of America in general, from which Europe itself can no longer do without.”
In the last five years or thereabouts the young artist Dalton Paula has been traversing the field of Brazilian tradition that problematizes art’s relationship to the complex ethical, social and political issues that pervade the country’s historical formation. He has principally been working with the revision of narratives about slavery and their tragic consequences, causer of social exclusion, of marginalization and of the inequitable appropriation of the workforce of black peoples in contemporary society. Without resentment of denunciation, but with critical intelligence, political refinement and based on historical grounds, he has been employing irony and mordant humour interspersed with mockery and derision, to address issues that are somehow entrenched in his own subjective, personal history, as a young black man who is conscious of his being in the world.
Dalton Paula has been transiting across painting, object-making, installation, performance, photography and video, without establishing a hierarchical order among the various mediums, and without any loss to his expressive poetic potential, seeing as the choice of each support base results from the poetic idea that the artist endeavours to make real. In this open-ended panorama, there are seams that bind the parts together, rendering them into a cohesive set, structured by actions that repeat or alternate themselves, which project themselves or reverberate, which make themselves explicit or enshroud themselves, at every fragment. These actions are marked by the critical interpretation of historical or everyday events, by the impregnation of a religious, mystical aspect which arises from Afro-Brazilian cults, by the use of his own body and of images of the bodies of others, by the clash of alterities that lie between the autobiographical and the appropriated other, by the shock between the weak and the strong, between master and slave, by the undoing of the demarcation of functions and also of the territories of entitlements and rights, actions which were all constituted by means of violence into the Brazilian social fabric.
Amansa-senhor, title of Dalton Paula’s present exhibition at Galeria Sé, was taken from an expression which designated the artifices of sorcery employed by the slaves that were priests – officiants of Candomblé origin – to tame or subdue the aggressive character of their masters during the slavery era. Potions were administered in very low doses, bridling them slowly and steadily by poisoning. Amansa senhor is also is also the popular name given to the erva-da-Guiné (Petiveria Alliaceae, or Guinea Hen Weed), a perennial herb that was part of the herbarium of black peoples of Brazil and which has dangerous pharmacological properties; among the effects of the powder extracted from its roots are: “overstimulation, insomnia, hallucination, apathy, idiocy, cerebral softening, tetaniform convulsions, paralysis of the larynx followed by death, within a period of approximately one year, depending on the ingested doses.” These are the effects of the erva-da- Guiné used by the slaves in the act of resistance, subversion and revolt against their masters’ dominance.
The defensive properties of the erva-da-Guiné are popular among the people and have become an essential ingredient in numerous rituals of Afro-Brazilian religions, wherein it is attributed to distinct entities or saints, or as a customary ingredient in myriad recipes for traditional phytotherapic bottled ‘medicine’ popularly known as garrafadas, or in baths for healing maladies and infirmities and for spiritual cleansing. Planted in backyards and in the yards known as terreiros where a number of rituals of Candomblé and of Umbanda are held, it is also commonly found, by means of syncretism, in gardens or vases of superstitious Christian followers, exalted by the belief in its power to disperse evil energies.
As Dalton Paula inserts the erva-da-Guiné and other medicinal plants into some of his works, he evokes both a healing process for the treatment of the historical wounds inflicted by slavery in the social body, and the process of rebellion by poisoning, which seeks to destroy the white orthodox way of thinking and alter the origin of the speech on the position of black people in Brazilian society and culture. Born in Brasília,in the Federal District, and currently based in Goiânia, capital of the state of Goiás, both modern cities that were built many years after the abolition of slavery, where manifestations of the Afro-Brazilian culture are not as commonly or openly revealed, Dalton Paula, in his search to deepen his knowledge on this theme, continuously searches for cultural references in the capital city of Salvador and in other cities of the state of Bahia, places where the cultural expressions of African matrix converge in great concentrations.
In the period when he was in residence at the Muros: territórios compartilhados (Walls: shared territories), in direct contact with the surrounding environment of the Mercado São Joaquim (São Joaquim Market), in Salvador, absorbing the ways of life, the stories and the beliefs of the local tradesmen and of the regulars, Dalton Paula produced the photograph entitled Tabuleiro (Stall, 2013), a work where he makes use of the notion of a performance that is guided by the making of a photograph which, in turn, is conceived in minute detail by the artist, and therefore does carry the status of an image of second order. In general, these are performances that have been permeated with the concept of the site-specific, and are linked to particular aspects of these places that have captured the interest of the artist. Initially these places did not have a distinct identity, and were almost always undetermined locations on the fringes of larger cities, but which gradually gained new specificities: agribusiness fields and even a fragment of the landscape of the federal city. In Tabuleiro, the constitutive place of the work is identified in the photograph by an address plate that is affixed to the wall, informing that this is the hospital slope. The wall of the Hospital Santa Izabel (Santa Izabel Hospital) has been chosen as the constitutive place of the work. The name of the hospital evokes the figure of Princess Isabel and the Lei Áurea (or Golden Law) which abolished slavery in the Brazilian territory, ending a cycle of exploration only to engender a cycle of exclusion in its place; the chalk-white colour of the wall alludes to the pristine whiteness of medical uniforms and to the asepsis of traditional medicine. But the presence of a pichação (street writing or tagging done in a distinctive, cryptic style, mainly on walls and vacant buildings) on the wall’s unsoiled surface registers a gesture of revolt and of dissatisfaction from a voice that remains unheard, deadened in the ghetto, and which thus discharges seemingly unintelligible utterances into the public space.
In Tabuleiro, Dalton Paula makes use of his own body in a ritualistic situation, as is frequent in many of his photographic works or in videos that are supported by performative actions. The artist confronts the public space bare-chested (in the same way as slaves were tied to a trunk or post to be scourged in an act of exemplary punishment) and with his head shaved; he positions himself facing the wall, standing behind the stall, which has been precariously build with beer crates and covered with plastic bags that have been sewn together, and smothered with an enormous quantity and variety of medicinal herbs. This way, in the photograph the artist appears as though he were dressed in a peculiar baiana costume, an image which results from the way that the form of the stall is pieced together to his body. In placing himself between the orthodox treatments of traditional medicine, of white matrix, and elements of popular medicine, of African and indigenous matrices, the artist also places himself between magic and science. There is in his gesture the simplicity of a street-seller, an occupation that has been carried out by black people for centuries, and even more considerably after the abolition, and which is still carried out in the form of the camelô.
Unguento exacerbates the processes of irony contained in the operation of bridling the masters performed by Dalton Paula. As in the previous work, the video has a documentary character, having been was carried out using a performance work as its basis. In this case the work is an intervention in the city of Lençois, in up-country Bahia, and was produced during the Mostra OSSO Latino-americana de Performances Urbanas (Latin American Urban Performances).
In this work the artist can once again be seen bare-chested, walking along the streets and holding an empty bottle, a bottle of cachaça 51 (a popular brand of the typical distilled spirit made from sugarcane juice), and another brown-coloured bottle of cachaça (a metaphor for black skin), a mortar and a small branch of erva-de-Guiné. He sits on the pavement of a street – the green walls and doors of the building where the old slave market of the city used to function peering over him in the background – and displays before him a collection of objects. He then begins a ritual of actions which, in the end, produce a dangerous substance. After blindfolding himself – an act that implies the loss of contact with the visible in order to create an opening to that which is invisible, in a mystic trance for coming into contact with archetypes, entities and ghosts – he spills brown cachaça around him and starts to grind the herb until it is crushed. Next he vigorously shakes the same bottle of cachaça and then smashes it on the ground in front of him; he gathers up the shards and places them in the mortar to be crushed with the herb. When the mixture is sufficiently ground up, he introduces it into the empty bottle, and finalizes the garrafada by adding the cachaça 51 that was left, which during the action was opened and served and then stolen by a drunk who had been wondering down the street and casually joined the scene.
Among all the works by Dalton Paula that were carried out in the public space, Unguento is that which is most subjected to the intervention of elements that travel across the street, such as people, animals, vehicles, sounds, speech, random noises. But the spontaneous intervention of the drunk potentializes the artist’s action even further, as, in a plastic sense, it adds a chromatic contrast of intense energy to the image of the video, and in a poetic conceptual sense, dilates the meaning of the cachaça as a symbol or as matter, at the same time as it reveals its action on individual and
social bodies. The use of the cachaça takes us back to the sugarcane cycle, sustained by the slave labour in the country. The distilled spirit has been known in Brazil since the 16th century, and over time has almost always been object of social prejudice, thought of as a drink of the lower classes of society, consumed by the poor, by blacks, by accultured indigenous peoples and by outcasts. Diminished, the spirit was referred to as the drink of the rabble, as food for addiction and for the degradation of the pariah, of the individual who is excluded from the rights of citizenship, abandoned to his own fate or misfortune, such as the drunkard who walked into the performance, lured by the bottle of 51.
The title of the action, Unguento, is derived from the pastes employed by popular medicine since antiquity for the treatment of different ailments. In actual fact, during his performance Dalton Paula creates a garrafada. Alternatives adopted to circumvent the lack of access to the means of traditional medicine, the garrafadas are widely used by hinterland and rural populations and by the low-income urban layer. Their prescriptions are ancient and are based on phytotherapic knowledge inherited from the blacks and from the indigenous peoples, and are generally made from the mixture of herbs that have been preserved in cachaça. However, instead of producing a medication that can alleviate and heal, the artist creates a garrafada to produce suffering, internal hemorrhage and death, and therefore actualizes the ancestral figure of the Candomblé priest, who manipulated the plants to create medications/poisons, according to the need to subdue the master, or to take revenge on him.
The cachaça, the erva-da-Guiné and the garrafada are elements that are also present in the installation Paratudo, a work that is homonymous to the brand of alcoholic beverage produced with a mixture of bitter roots and whose label depicts the stylized drawing of a North American indian. The work, carried out during the Imersão em (território) Olhos D’Água ( Immersion in (territory) Eyes of Water) residency, in the interior of the state of Goiás, resembles a trap: it is constructed by a rope that hangs from the ceiling in a hangman’s knot, from where hangs a sauce made from a bottle of Paratudo and thirteen garrafadas of cachaça with distinct parts of the erva-de-Guiné, which confers different tonalities to the drinks; each bottle is enveloped by a seine fishing net, made from thread for sewing leather, and in this way they are assembled and attached to the noose, like a collective body. The chain of latent punishments in Paratudo (suspension, closure, finalization, extirpation) reminds us that among the actions of violence employed in the colonial and imperial periods, in addition to the tortures inflicted on the slaves, there was the death penalty imposed on the most renegade insurgents and on the most violent criminals, and that the method adopted for the public execution of those who had been condemned was death by hanging, in a spectacle of cruelty sponsored by the authorities, as was the case of Tiradentes . Although the death penalty was abolished in Brazil during the Second Empire, the image of the noose still hangs over the collective imagination on the subject of terror which haunts the present.
The last works presented by Dalton Paula are two groups of paintings which have been executed on the covers of dozens of editions of the old collections of the Barsa and Science and Future encyclopaedias. Born in the 18th century from the compilation of the philosophical knowledge of the French illuminists, during the 20th century the notion of the encyclopaedia was rendered banal by the cultural industry, which started to produce collections of books abounding with juxtapositions of entries that were as varied as they were superficial, and which were avidly consumed by the middle classes. The artist intervenes on the materiality and on the history of this support base by superimposing another narrative onto it. Set side by side to each other, positioned vertically or horizontally, forming great sequences, the books in their objectual condition are not subject to alterations, although their function has been suspended. The vision of the book spine, a band of the red from the cover revealed within the surface of the painting, the bulkiness of the closed pages refuting the traditional bidimensionality which characterizes the medium, the memories impregnated in the body of the publication, are all aspects pondered by the artist in exploring their plastic potentialities.
The first set, entitled Retrata Maria (2015), is like a biography formed by a series of forty-five paintings inspired by photographs that were supplied by a military friend, and represent scenes of everyday life, of the workspace, of travels and of amorous intimacies. The second group, Retrata Rosana (2015), is based on photographs of performances carried out by female artists and by a transvestite, who is a character/work created by an artist of the male sex; in a certain sense it directs the reading of the performance towards a historical field where it functioned as opposition and resistance to the laws of the masters of the art market, who classified it as a subversive category, devoid of commercial interest.
The scenes painted by Dalton in the first set arise from the appropriation of documents of someone else’s life, of images charged with the banality of daily life and with the affectivity of these records, shaped by a domestic language and barren of any concerns for an aesthetic order. In a reflection on alterity, the artist introduces the other into his work, and renders a random image of a moment in the life of a common person into a motif for the cover of the
encyclopaedia. As he transfers the photographic image to the painting he selects a number of elements from the original image and removes others, and reinterprets the way situations are framed and how the lighting and the backdrop are approached. Contrary to most works made by artists who make paintings from photographs, Dalton’s work does not retain remnants of the original photograph, as the image is transformed by a gesture that is powerful albeit directed, and which pays tribute to the expressionist tradition. Plentiful transformations unfold: to begin with, the artist transforms the skin colour of all people who have supplied him with their photographs, from white they are represented as black. The physiognomical characteristics dissolve themselves into a formal model; the eyes and the noses are painted gold, a colour which emanates a sacred energy which resignifies the senses of vision, of smell and of hearing – when two golden mouths converge in a kiss. The way he approaches the background of his paintings, always in shades of blue, green and and grey, is reminiscent of the aesthetic of traditional painted portraits which were based on retouched photographs, so commonly found in the Brazilian Northeast and in houses found in the suburbs of the country; the sequences and correlations of the paintings establish connections and create a new visual situation from where new and unsettling narratives unfold.
Finally, in concluding the reflection on the works of Dalton Paula display exhibited in this show, I draw attention to the need to understand that, as he addresses traumas of the past, he has found the means to address the problems of the present, and I invite the reader to be inquisitive and to ask: who are the masters of the present? What do they do? Where are they? Why do they need to be subdued? What are the methods of bridling? Who are the tamers? What does art have to do with taming?
¹Memoria sobre o commercio dos escravos: em que se pretende mostrar que este trafico he, para eles, antes hum bem do que hum mal. Rio de Janeiro: Typ. Imp. E Const. De J. Villeneuve e Comp., 1838.p. 7. In: Brasiliana Digital USP – Biblioteca Ex Libris José Mindlin.
²Candomblé is an African-Brazilian religion, born of a people who were taken from their homes in Africa and transplanted to Brazil during the slave trade. The religion is a mixture of traditional Yoruba, Fon and Bantu beliefs which originated from different regions in Africa, and it has also incorporated some aspects of the Catholic faith over time. The name itself means ‘dance in honour of the gods’, and music and dance are important parts of Candomblé ceremonies.
³Reis, João José. Domingos Sodré: um sacerdote africano. Escravidão, liberdade e candomblé na Bahia do século XIX. São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2008. p. 152.
⁴The bahianas, who also hold the title of mães-de-santo (or mothers-of-the-saint), are pioneers of Candomblé. Having arrived in Brazil at the end of the 18th century as part of the slave trade, they embody the role of religious and political leadership and of therapeutic power.
⁵The word is borrowed from the French camelot, meaning “merchant of low-quality goods,” and which have fixed “storefronts” on a particular sidewalk.
⁶Joaquim José da Silva Xavier, also known as Tiradentes (Tooth Puller) was the leader of the first organized movement against Portuguese rule in Brazil in 1789. Known as the Inconfidencia Mineira , insurgents advocated complete independence from Portugal. An attempt by Portuguese officials to collect back taxes (not too different from the collection of tea taxes in the 13 American colonies) touched off the call for the rebellion. The crown quickly and easily crushed the uprising, jailing the conspirators and brutally executing Tiradentes two years later. He was publicly hanged in Rio de Janeiro on April 21, 1792. To frighten the population into complete submission Portuguese authorities ordered his body to be cut into pieces and to be prominently displayed along posts in city boulevards. The martyrdom of Tiradentes has rendered him into a national hero.
– Bachelor degree in Visual Arts by the Federal University of Goiás (UFG)
– “A irmã de São Cosme e São Damião”, Galeria Alfinete, Brasília, Brazil
– “A rebelião negra”, R3 Gabinete, Goiânia, Brazil
– “Amansa-senhor”, Sé Galeria, São Paulo, Brazil
– “E um terremoto sereno e imperceptível arrasou a cidade…”, Sé, São Paulo, Brazil
– “O Álbum”, Museu de Arte Contemporânea, Sala Samuel Costa, Goiânia, Brazil
Simultaneous Solos Exhibitions
– “6x Simultânea”, Museu de Arte Contemporânea, Centro Cultural Oscar Niemeyer, Goiânia, Brazil
– “Songs for Sabotage”, New Museum Triennial, Nova York, USA
– “O Triângulo do Atlântico”, 11ª Bienal do Mercosul, Porto Alegre, Brazil
– “Verzuimd Braziel – Brasil Desamparado”, Museu de Arte Contemporânea (MAC), Centro Cultural Oscar Niemeyer (CCON), Goiânia, Brazil
– “Incerteza viva”, 32ª Bienal de São Paulo (Itinerância), Palácio das Artes, Belo Horizonte, Brazil; Palácio da Instrução, Cuiabá, Brazil; Museo de Arte Moderno de Bogotá (MAMBO), Bogotá, Colombia
– “O importante, minha filha, é não tirar a mão do barro”, Carbono Galeria, São Paulo, Brazil
– “A Luz que Vela o Corpo É a Mesma que Revela a Tela”, Caixa Cultural, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
– “The Atlantic Triangle”, Goethe Institut, Lagos, Nigeria
– “2nd Changjiang International Photography and Video Biennale”, Chongquing Museum of Contemporary Art, Chongqing, China
– “BERLIN SHOW #5 – Collectors’ Loop”, GALERIAPLAN B, Berlin, Germany
– “II Mostra Videografias Performativas”, Centro Dragão do Mar de Arte e Cultura, Fortaleza, Ceará, Brazil
– “6ª edição do Prêmio Marcantonio Vilaça para as Artes Plásticas (2017-2018)”, Museu Brasileiro de Escultura e Ecologia (MuBE), São Paulo, Brazil
– “Agora somos todxs negros?”, Galpão VB, São Paulo, Brazil
– “Vozes do silêncio?”, Galeria Antônio Sibasolly, Anapólis, Goiás, GO; itinerância Centro Cultural da UFG (CCUFG), Goiânia, Brazil
– “Negros Indícios”, Galeria D. Pedro II, CAIXA Cultural São Paulo, São Paulo, Brazil
– “Ex Africa”, Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, Belo Horizonte, Brazil; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; São Paulo, Brazil; Brasília, Brazil
– “OSSO – Exposição-Apelo ao amplo direito de defesa de Rafael Braga”, Instituto Tomie Ohtake, São Paulo, Brazil
– “Incerteza viva”, 32ª Bienal de São Paulo, Pavilhão da Bienal, São Paulo, Brazil
– “Das Virgens em Cardumes e da Cor das Auras”, Museu Bispo do Rosário, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
– “\\\\ HAeammm ////////” aOUuHhFFf, Átomos, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
– “Orixás”, Casa França-Brasil, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
– “A cor do Brasil”, Museu de Arte do Rio (MAR), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
– “Zona de Perigo”, Mostra do 5º Prêmio CNI SESI SENAI Marcantonio Vilaça para as Artes
– “Plásticas”, Museu de Arte Moderna Aloisio Magalhães (MAMAM), Recife, Brazil; Museu Oscar Niemeyer, Curitiba, Brazil
– “Terra Falsa”, O Coletor e Movimento 90º, São Paulo, Brazil
– “Pequenas pinturas”, Espaço Auroras, São Paulo, Brazil
– “Porque somos elas e eles”, Blau Projects São Paulo, Brazil
– “Diálogos Ausentes”, Itaú Cultural, São Paulo, Brazil
– “Onà Ciclo X Mostra de Perfomances”, Espaço Decurators, Brasília, Brazil
– “BÂNGALA: YAKÃ AYÊ”, Galeria A Gentil Carioca, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
– “Intersecções”, Galeria Athos Bulcão, Brasília, Brazil
– “Triangulações – Registros Circunstanciais: Intervenções, Fabulações, Apagamentos”, Centro Cultural da UFG, Goiânia, Brazil; Museu de Moderna da Bahia (MAM), Salvador, Brazil; Centro Cultural Dragão do Mar, Fortaleza, Brazil
– “Histórias Mestiças”, Instituto Tomie Ohtake, São Paulo, Brazil
– 75 anos – O Popular”, Grupo Jaime Câmara, Goiânia, Brazil
– “CAMP! – Arte e Diferença”, Galeria Candido Portinari, Universidade Estadual do Rio de Janeiro (UERJ), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
– “Convite à viagem”, Rumos Artes Visuais 2011/2013, Itaú Cultural, Centro Cultural Paço Imperial, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
– “A cidade é o lugar”, Museu de Arte Contemporânea, Centro Cultural Oscar Niemeyer, Goiânia, Brazil
– “Convite à viagem”, Rumos Artes Visuais 2011/2013, Itaú Cultural, São Paulo, Brazil
– “44° SAC – Salão de Arte Contemporânea de Piracicaba”, Pinacoteca Municipal Miguel Dutra, Piracicaba, Brazil
– “Intuição Et Cetera”, Rumos Artes Visuais 2011/2013, Itaú Cultural, Museu de Arte Moderna Aloísio Magalhães (MAMAM), Recife, Brazil
– “Volta ao dia em 80 mundos”, Rumos Artes Visuais 2011/2013, Itaú Cultural, Centro Cultural Octo Marques – Galerias de Arte Sebastião dos Reis e Frei Nazareno Confalone, Goiânia, Brazil
– “63° Salão de Abril – A cidade e suas Desconexões Antrópicas”, Galeria Antonio Bandeira, Fortaleza, Brazil
– “FAV NOVA Inacabada”, Galeria da Faculdade de Artes Visuais da UFG, Goiânia, Brazil
– “Meio Kg”, Museu de Arte Contemporânea, Jataí, Brazil
– “17° Salão Anapolino de Arte”, Galeria Antônio Sibasolly, Anápolis, Brazil
– “I Salão de Arte Contemporânea do Centro – Oeste”, Centro Cultural UFG, Goiânia, Brazil
– 4ª edition of the Art Salon of Mato Grosso do Sul, Museum of Contemporary Art (MARCO), Campo Grande, Brazil.
– 11˚ National Art Salon, Museum of Contemporary Art, Jataí, Brazil.
– 38˚ Contemporary Art Salon Luiz Sacilotto – Prêmio Aquisição, Santo André, Brazil.
– AnnexB, New York, USA
– Project Multidisciplinar Ocupa Brasil, Superior Institute of Art (ISA) of Havana, Havana, Cuba
– Imersão em [território] Olhos d’Água, Alexânia, Brazil
– 3rd Show OSSO Latino Americana de Performance – MOLA, Lençóis, Brazil
– Derivative Status in Mobile Residence, Chapada dos Veadeiros, Brazil
– 3ª Edição Muros: Territórios Compartilhados_ Baluarte 7 Casa de Arte Salvador, Brazil
– “Água no Feijão”, artistic residency in Santo Antônio Além do Carmo, Salvador, Brazil
– Visualidades: Journal of the program of a Master in Culture, Federal University of Goiás v.8, n.2 jul/dec (2010), Goiânia, Brazil.
Video produced by Do Rio Filmes exclusively for PIPA 2017:
- Watch more exclusive interviews with this edition's nominees
- More updates on the PIPA Prize 2018 nominees' pages
- New Museum presents the fourth edition of its Triennial
- Dalton Paula and Luciana Solano "Meet Over Lunch" at RU
- Meet the 78 nominees of PIPA Prize 2018
- PIPA Prize 2018 Nominees | 8th Bulletin
- Antonio Obá in conversation with Luiz Camillo Osorio
- PIPA Online 2017 | View the scoreboard on the 5th day of voting
- 2nd round of PIPA Online 2017 | View the current scoreboard
- See the pages of eight PIPA Prize 2017 nominees