José Damasceno

Artist project

Instead of a text about the artist, I would like to present a text composed by José Damasceno himself. It is a poetic but philosophical text from 2001, which reflects on an artist’s creative process, as well as the associated spiritual, intellectual and mental conditions and concomitant phenomena. It is rare to find the inexpressible so beautifully articulated outside of only the very best literature. That’s why I think readers will forgive the fact that the only person talking about the artist here is the artist himself.

Condensador cromático, 2021, Wool, glass, wood, 86 x 121 x 16 cm
Condensador cromático, 2021, wool, glass, wood, 86 x 121 x 16 cm

“It is crucial to engage with what you do not know.”

“We could imagine sap flowing through all plants, the same everywhere, right now; or we could also imagine the circulation of human blood, as happens all over the world, over a span of barely three hours; we could follow a randomly chosen coin as it exchanges hands countless times, and perhaps, as a result of this quest, discover some strange design. We could relativize the movement of automobiles at the very moment the lights are turned on at home, intuiting the route and the presence of the electricity required and of fuel as it moves back and forth between the engine and its parts. We could now conceive all those phone connections, financial transactions, interconnected computers, people working, talking, fighting, laughing, different languages, different codes. In the same way we could recognize the movements of all the different types of fish and aquatic creatures found in the oceans and sea depths.

Cirandar todos, 2014, Wood, magnet, 150 pieces, Diameter 900 cm
Cirandar todos, 2014, wood, magnet, 150 pieces, diameter 900 cm

Reality, or what we call real, has countless strata, layers, dimensions, densities, conditions, porosities, channels, with an unimaginable, structural complexity which moves, grows and modifies, second by second, in another vast universe of different points of view. For some reason, I think of the existence of a myriad of images which inhabit and survive in all of us. In this way, our own image, for instance, would inhabit in “various” versions in the imagination and the memory of those who know us. A myriad of ourselves. If we multiply this fact by all the people around us, and so on successively, taking into consideration not just persons but also objects, laws, procedures, houses, cities, streets, roads and paths, and, as well as all that, memories, loves, stories, behaviours, perhaps we could get closer to a kind of astonishing imaginary reality. This would lead us to suppose the possibility that we can walk through this subtle area which, although apparently volatile, has an extremely concrete presence; an area dense in image-generating viscosity.

Monitor-Crayon, 2012, Crayon, wood, steel, 240 x 350 x 90 cm
Monitor-Crayon, 2012, crayon, wood, steel, 240 x 350 x 90 cm

A habitat made up by infinite worlds which are interpreted in a strange intertwining, surfaces that fold, that touch each other in perpetual and consecutive torsion which are in fact psychic rivers, tributaries, sources and springs which run and flow relentlessly into spiritual oceans with their currents, tides, calm seas, waves, storms. This landscape can be glimpsed suddenly as we stroll through the densely populated neighbourhood of any big city. Every apartment, building or block houses thousands of lives, stories, passions, dreams, ideas, miseries, tragedies, hate and happiness. Thoughts and acts that are organized in a complex living chaos, full of desire, of feeling, and ultimately of movement. I think that it is absolutely fascinating to travel through these places and to discover the association of disparate elements which are strangely close to one another. We discern an opportunity to pour out our identity, to dissolve it in the cosmos; to try to affirm and to see the contradictions, inconsistencies and conflicts which form part of this world, or to simply take pleasure in the radical fact that we are immersed in a completely hallucinatory and wonderful circumstance, a substance called life, contact with which some people call art.”

O presságio seguinte (experiência sobre a visibilidade de uma substância dinámica), 1997, Maniquí, paño, hilos, ca. 250 x 700 x 250 cm
O presságio seguinte (experiência sobre a visibilidade de uma substância dinámica), 1997, mannequin, cloth, threads, ca. 250 x 700 x 250 cm

José Damasceno – Biography

Artist originally from Rio de Janeiro, who uses a wide range of materials, techniques, and media to investigate the limits of sculpture. Damasceno’s poetics is based on dislocation and estrangement to conceive fluid and changing perspectives of the representation of space. His research focuses on questions of surface and depth, of solidity and gravity, producing a physical and experimental sensation in the viewer through his or her contact with the work. He has exhibited regularly in Brazil since 1993 and abroad since 1995. He has held solo exhibitions in important venues such as Santander Cultural, Porto Alegre, Brazil (2015); Holborn Library, London, United Kingdom; Casa França-Brasil, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (2014); and Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, Spain (2008), among others.

Skip to content