november 8 2018 - january 26 2019
born in rio de janeiro_ brazil_ 1954_ lives and works in rio de janeiro
Graduated in Architecture and Urbanism at Faculdades Integradas Silva e Souza, Rio de Janeiro, in 1983. He attended various courses, such as: Art History, under critic Ronaldo Brito, at Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (1988-1992); Art and Painting Theory (1989-1990) and “Núcleo de Aprofundamento” (1991), at Escola de Artes Visuais do Parque Lage, Rio de Janeiro. In 1993, with a scholarship from the Brazilian Government, he received a Master degree from the Pratt Institute, in New York. Since 1991, he participated in numerous solo exhibitions: “Projeto Macunaíma” at the Brazilian Institute of Contemporary Art of Rio de Janeiro (Rio de Janeiro, 1992); “Espaço Empenado” at Paço Imperial (Rio de Janeiro, 2002); “Pintura” at Centro universitário Maria Antonia (São Paulo, 2003); and at Galeria Raquel Arnaud, in 1996, 1999, 2002 and 2006. In 2011, Atelier Sidnei Tendler in Brussels (Belgium) presented a solo exhibition of his work.
Feingold also participated in collective exhibitions such as “Aprofundamento”, at the Escola de Artes Visuais do Parque da Lage, Rio de Janeiro (1951); he received the top prize in the 15th edition of “Salão Carioca” and 17th edition of “Salão Nacional de Artes Plásticas”, both in Rio de Janeiro (1991). He took part in the exhibitions: “Crossing Lines – Art in General”, in New York; “O beijo”, at Paço Imperial (Rio de Janeiro, 1998); “Gesture Drawings”, at Neuhoff Gallery (New York, 2000); and the 5th Mercosul Biennial (Porto Alegre, 2005). In 2007, he participated in an exhibition by “Minus Space” (New York) held in Sydney and Melbourne, Australia, and in Wellington, New Zeland. In 2010, he participated in an exhibition at Maria Teresa Vieira Art Center (Rio de Janeiro), and “The Machine Eats”, at Frederico Sève Gallery (New York). His most recent group exhibitions were “Arte brasileira e depois na Coleção Itaú”, at Paço Imperial (Rio de Janeiro, 2011); “Cinéticos e construtivos”, at Galeria Carbono (São Paulo, 2013); “Afinidades”, at Instituto Tomie Ohtake (São Paulo, 2014); and “Trajetória 40 anos”, at Galeria Raquel Arnaud (São Paulo, 2014). Galeria Raquel Arnaud has been representing the artist since 1993.
While viewing a painting by Daniel Feingold, often my first question is: How does it begin? What is the source—visual or otherwise—that informs it? This process has been going on for as long as I have been aware of Feingold’s work, which is close to fifteen years. Feingold is always patient, giving my question a moment of reflection before he speaks. This is the artist’s nature, his way of addressing his concerns as a painter. I find this refreshing, especially coming from New York where words are spoken as if rehearsed in advance. After a while, they all begin to sound alike. They all diffuse into the same conformist atmosphere—the same words, the same language, as if talking about painting was the same as sending an e-mail or an incidental text message. The language quickly transmutes into rhetoric without spirit or memory. Feingold is clearly different in this regard.
When Feingold speaks, it sounds as if he were possessed by some kind of Kierkegaardian doubt, suggesting that each painting has its own origin, despite its proximate visual consistency to other related works. There are few painters I can compare with Feingold, and if I do, they tend to be historical. For example, I can imagine listening to Barnett Newman, or even Pollock (an artist that Feingold has always deeply admired), who I believe carried a similar sense of doubt. Regardless of the years of painting, the trials and tribulations in making a substantial painting always took time, and therefore, the language spoken in relation to painting also took time. The beginning is a question of working with time as much as working with space. It would seem that Feingold is unwilling to remove himself from the time instilled within his paintings. While they may appear static, they are not. Time is embodied as form upon a surface. To discover time within a painting is a perpetual, ongoing process. In general, I am not certain if it makes any difference whether a painting is representational or abstract. To work with time on your side, to be one with time in the act of painting, is a gift. Ideally, it is the way painting should happen. I would assume that Feingold has his own language for expressing this idea. The first thought about a painting or in relation to a painting is, in a concrete sense, its true beginning.
Because his photographs are more recent—borrowing from empirical or recognizable subject matter in the external visual world—I am less inclined to inquire about the sources. In this respect, painting and photography are different. In the case of Feingold’s painting, the source evolves from the interior, perhaps indirectly from an expressionist point of view. I am thinking of the Yahweh paintings. While the process involved in making his paintings is automatic (to a degree), once the viscosity of the black enamel pigment begins its move downward, the paint will break up into a series of discreet dribbles. This is enabled as the terbrim (synthetic fabric) surface of the painting is tilted at a slight angle to the wall. The volume of pigment applied in each pour appears relatively consistent. Sometimes the pour will extend one-half to one-third of the way to the bottom edge, while on other occasions it almost reaches the bottom but not quite, ironically suggesting the concrete neoplastic, proto-concrete paintings of Mondrian who clearly discerned the importance of the line not reaching the edge but often stopping just short of it. For Mondrian, this allowed a certain mobility of space, as the eye moved between planes, from one to another, without interruption.
In Feingold’s Yahweh paintings (2013), the reference to the vitality of the pour, in contrast to the Dutch artist’s hard-edge approach, carries significant. Despite Feingold’s remarkable control over how the discreet sections of the black enamel descend on the canvas surface, the calculated process eventually lends itself to an expressionist aesthetic. Feingold choice of the Hebrew “God” as the title of his series suggests more than a strictly formal process. The way in which the descending paint forms itself into a kind of script or writing (écriture) is not insignificant; rather it is the very essence that the artist is striving to obtain as if the relative randomness of the enamel’s action is part of a random plan or system, a universe built on the creative impulse, suggesting a kind of mirror or reflection on the meaning of the creative act. In this sense, Feingold comes close to Newman’s concept of the “zip” inside the painterly field as symbolic of divine light or the intervention of God’s presence within Judeo-Christian history. At the same instant, there is the rhythmic pour of paint, reminiscent of how Pollock spoke of the necessity of being within the painting. This further reflects on Feingold’s need to be congruent with time as when some aspect of a painting begins to form itself before his eyes.
Once the black enamel has found its stasis on the surface and becomes hard, the panel does not remain in a vertical position; rather the artist turns it to a horizontal position where it is aligned with a second panel in order to create a diptych. It is then—and only then—that the expressionist point of view begins to emerge. Prior to this, the work is only a panel painted black that requires a second panel to find its resolution. It is questionable whether the Renaissance term “diptych” is appropriate here. For the most part, a diptych was generally designed for the exterior of an altarpiece and included different subject matter (a different saint) on each panel. While each subject was different, the two were dependent on a single theme involving Christian mythology. In Feingold’s Yahweh series, the two panels come together to form “a third voice,” so to speak. Again, the reference to Newman is of interest, particularly in Newman’s Onement (1948), where an expressionist vertical orange-red brushstroke descends through the center of a maroon field. In this case, the vertical red line, rather than separating the painting into two halves, affirmatively unites the painting by activating the space. Similarly, when Feingold combines the two horizontal panels into a single painting, the work achieves an activated sense of “onement,” and thus reiterates the Old Testament scripture of God being all-powerful, a singular deity.
In comparison with the Yahweh series, the Structure paintings, also from 2013, admit a similar approach to painting, focusing on the grid, and thus removing themselves from any hint of expressionism. Instead of the pours descending downward from organic splotches, as in Yahweh, here they are made from highly controlled singular pours that suggest a more compressed version of Mondrian. Rather than moving in a single linear direction, the poured lines of Feingold cross over one another, using color—especially primaries—that lend a more exuberant, albeit restrained appearance to the surface. These are terrific paintings, not only in their execution, but also in the demeanor of their appearance. They are fresh, vital, and circumspect to the extent that one may explore the intricacies of how they developed over time. Here Feingold is in charge of each inch of his surfaces, without relinquishing full control. He still allows the accidents to evoke a sense of painterliness and thus aligns himself with a kind of postmodern recycling of earlier forms of abstraction or concretion placed squarely within the present.
And what of the photographs? Where do they stand in the oeuvre of Feingold? I would put it the following way: Homage to the Rectangle is also about space and in this sense they are about painting. That they are about the placement of space, I believe, is consistent with how Feingold manages the photograph in terms of how the natural subject matter is placed within the framing edge. His photographs are naturally calligraphic, which one might understand as consistent with the current group of paintings. Whether painting or photography, Feingold’s work has always been calligraphic in the sense of the écriture mentioned earlier. His work is a persistent search for systemic order. It is a kind of pictorial writing, a condensation of words that invokes his consciousness as a painter. What I see in the photographs, whether presented singularly or in twos or threes, is that they play with space. They are in search of a placement, how to fit this natural calligraphy into a space—geometry without angst, without ossification—and make it as vital as the poured paintings in which his astonishing control is forever apparent. Photography, for Feingold, is simply another tool, by which to discover painting. In this sense, they offer a necessary complement to his point of reference in this exhibition—the placement of space, and the endurance of time as essential to the act of painting.
The light is metallic, refracted, it derives from a chaotic contemporary urban environment; the few, impersonal colors have less to do with qualities of expression than with physical intensity, additions of energy that are able to support and re-energize the scale of the painting. The proverbial sense of balance and proportion inherent to easel painting are actually redefined here in quantum terms. But if the painting is to grow, to de-sublimate itself, ultimately to adhere to an incalculable amount of world, it proposes to do so through the power of its lyrical thrust. The result of this is a peculiar seriality of curved forms, an accelerated, repetitive movement which nonetheless contains an unpredictable quality – as if, by following the world’s vertiginous course, the canvas attempted to render it sensitive to our corporeal measure, adjusted to a problematic lyrical life expectancy. And yet this painting is the product of a world-conscious self for whom every look is an achievement of the specific experience of the event of form. Evidently, it can no longer count on classical reflective distance. On the contrary, it is always involved with a perverse topology in which subject and object, rarely in harmony, are at odds with one another and clash. The utopia of the Moebius strip (the Eucharist of [Brazilian] neoconcretism) and its ideal of a fluid, emancipated planar life with no inside or outside winds up as nostalgia, out of reach. The plane that the painting of Daniel Feingold tackles is a truncated plane, unequal and disordered, impossible to rationalize a priori. It must be dominated through physical reaction, developing a rather material aesthetic sensibility, in touch with the unformed mass of a poetically indifferent (if not hostile) everyday life. Even Jackson Pollock’s problematic all-over, undeniably Feingold’s starting point of no return, consumed itself implacably, almost magically, albeit at the end of an uncertain voyage of exploration. He was never weighed down by the mourning for modernity that has befallen the last few decades. And it is precisely this mourning, this inertial factor, that our painter must conjure up in order to transform it into lyrical agility. Each expressive decision (or each spiritual one, if you will) is thus inseparable from a decision regarding its material medium – the decision to duplicate the stretcher, for instance. Intuitively, it responds to the ambiguous, split nature of the contemporary notion of unity. There are two stretchers, only one painting. Agreement through disagreement is a nervous interplay between surface and depth is what the canvas seeks to reactivate at any cost. And the game includes the wall itself, for we now find ourselves before three planes: given the difference in level, the interval between one chassis and the other, the wall tends to influence the act of perception – the more so because the chassis are thick and stand out visually as active spatial presences. Virtuous oil might be too ideal and suggestive a vehicle for the impregnation of these solid canvases, these near sheets of painting. The soul-less synthetic enamel lends itself better to the task, because of its opaque sheen and its openly industrial nature that resists subjectivation. Its flat colors do not represent, they act, they do not allow for half tones; at once, chromatic imprint is transformed into optical behavior. Patent colors devoid of transparency, public colors, incorporate the present into these paintings, somehow beckoning it to the streets. And the argument extends to its basic elements, to the particles of its singular physics. These curved forms and their countless variables own a concrete past, a biography. They derive from the surf boards which, for years, the artist designed and built professionally. Only a profound intimacy, the unconscious mastery of its possible articulations, allows these “boards” to evolve and oppose themselves here in this fashion, with such fluency and counter-fluency. In fact, we remain undecided between calling them forms or elements. Their plasticity leads them to retain a vague outline and a certain morphological continuity; they are incompatible with the notion of a discrete element. On the other hand, they obey a serial compulsion, they possess something mechanical and progressive; they are not quite expressive gestures. Ultimately, the torsions of this convulsive geometry do not constitute deformities and may be more of a highly unorthodox combinative logic. This being said, its cogent formal and affective memory, in the capacity of surfboards does, indeed, say a great deal about the work’s plastic conundrum – excellent (in this case, irreplaceable) metaphors for absurd yet efficient equilibrium, perfect examples of the coalescence between solid and liquid. After all, what might these boards be other than solids that aspire to liquid? Within the work’s imagination, they accomplish a basic totemic function as playful symbols of resistance. Which of course does not make Daniel Feingold’s painting figurative by a long shot. Were we hurriedly to attempt to see representations in these curves, these surf board figures, we should spoil it all. On principle, this painting is contrary to image. It is applied and entirely consumed in an abstract linguistic process that has never been able to fix upon images. To do so would be tantamount to a renunciation: reduction of the canvas to a neutral vehicle, a simple plane for projection. When, on the contrary, it sticks to a strict planar conflict, it sets up a magnetic field of immanent plastic forces. Each one of the canvases thus takes a calculated risk. Balancing themselves between the revitalizing maneuvers of a malleable geometry and the imminence of entropy, they seek to validate the difference between an uncertain, vibrant order and merely indifferent confusion. And, because the history of art is movable symbolic matter, in order to forge ahead, to broaden its field of activity, the artist may now return from Pollock to Picasso, more precisely to the Picasso of the Demoiselles d’Avignon, of collages and African masks. And, of his own account, re-experience the true moment of Picassean rupture – the breaking of the canon of Western form and its reconstruction by means of open, discontinuous signs. Which, to my way of seeing, confers a certain look upon the recent work of Daniel Feingold (above all to the small canvases and works on paper), something mask-like. Ultimately, what is indispensable is a quantum of pictorial energy that is able to mobilize these curved forms along the full extension of the painting, able to disarticulate and rearticulate them simultaneously, so to speak. And to suspend the operation at the right aesthetic moment, at the moment in which all things fit (albeit not quite) because something is about to happen, something is happening.