Denilson Baniwa: "Forget me, please!" [detail], 2017, acrylic on canvas, 20 x 30 cm

“Closer to PIPA: the artist speaks in the Institute collection” featuring Denilson Baniwa

Denilson Baniwa is the seventh guest of  “Closer to PIPA: the artist speaks in the Institute collection”. Every fifteen days we select an art piece that was acquired by the Institute and ask the artist to talk a little bit about the work: be it the creative process; the ideia behind the piece; how it connects with the artist’s production; or any other aspect the person would like to share. The goal is to bring the audience closer to the artist’s universe and to the “Displacement” collection by PIPA Institute, which was established in 2010 to support, help document and promote the development of Brazilian contemporary art, and which has the Prize as one of its initiatives. This time, we chose the work “Forget me please!”, from 2017, which was donated to the collection when Denilson won the PIPA Online 2019. Baniwa was also nominated to the Prize this year and he came to be one of the Selected Artists of PIPA 2021. This year, the first round of PIPA Online will happen from August 15th to 22nd. To know more about it, click here.

Denilson’s work is mainly focused on who’s the current indigenous person and how this person engages with the world. The 37-year-old artist was born in the village of Darí, in Rio Negro, Amazon (Brazil), and his trajectory as an artist began with the cultural references of his people during childhood. At a young age, the artist began his work in fighting for the rights of indigenous peoples and he travels through the non-indigenous universe, learning references that strengthen his resistance. He is an anthropophagous artist, for he appropriates Western languages ​​to then “decolonize” them in his work.

“Bye – Bye Brazil “, 2020, acrylic on canvas, 60 x 80 cm

Baniwa, in his contemporary trajectory, has consolidated himself as a reference, breaking paradigms and opening paths to the protagonism of the indigenous people in the national territory, as mentioned in his biography at his pages on PIPA’s websites: “Sometimes, the challenge isn’t occupying positions. When the positions that exist don’t serve your purpose, it’s necessary to create something new. Denison Baniwa is an indigenous artist; he is indigenous and is an artist. His indigenous being allows him to make art in a different kind of way, in which imaginary processes are forced interventions in a dynamic history (the history of the colonisation of indigenous territories we now know as Brasil) and the interpolations with those that embrace its responsibilities”.

Check out bellow the ideas the artist shared with us specially for Closer to PIPA:

“I’m going to talk a little bit about the work that was donated to PIPA Prize when I won the PIPA Online. It is a reference to Lichtenstein; it’s based on one of his works and on the artist’s technique. When I made this piece, I was thinking about the relationships that indigenous people have with the rest of the world; in how indigenous people are seen, most of the time, at universities, in different positions, at the office; in how society in general sees indigenous people as exotic, as anything but a normal person. So this painting deals with this, with these social relationships in which indigenous people are seen as exotic, as exotic bodies and almost objectified, so it’s from this place. It’s a work in acrylic on canvas that has this reference to Lichtenstein, to Pop Art, to comic books.

The choice of using Pop Art is related to my extensive contact with comic books’ art. I like Pop artists, and this work has in particular a reinterpretation of a piece by Lichtenstein, so I tried to use the same elements as him, but adapting it to an indigenous place, from an indigenous perspective.

The speech bubble in English is precisely to make the work more universal, being a tribute to Pop artists, to comic books, and also extrapolating the Portuguese language. I think this use of English is also related to many people from outside wanting to visit the indigenous village, to get to know the indigenous people, and that usually happens through a very stereotyped mindset.  There’s this appeal coming from foreigners, when they want to meet the indigenous people in the Amazon”.

“Forget me, please!”, 2017, acrylic on canvas, 20 x 30 cm

To check out more about Denilson’s work, keep an eye out:
The five Selected Artists of PIPA 2021, chosen by PIPA’s Board, will make from September to November a virtual take over on the Prize’s websites and social media, and on the Preview platform (from which the critic and curator Gabriel Pérez-Barreiro is one of the founders), with exclusive content.

You can watch bellow the video produced by Do Rio Filmes exclusively for PIPA Prize 2021, in which Denilson talks about recurring topics in his artworks and about his most recent piece:

Denilson was one of our guests in PIPA Podcast’s first season. The episode is available on the “Podcast” tab of the Brazilian version of our website; on streaming platforms such as Spotify and Apple podcast; and also on our Youtube channel “Prêmio PIPA”. The audio is only available in Portuguese.

Click here to visit Denilson Baniwa’s webpage on the Institute’s website.

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