Gallery rounds: Daniel Silva

Max King Cap, Artillery Magazine, June 19, 2018

While uneven in impact, Columbian-born, British-educated Daniel Silva’s exhibition, “WE ARE EXPERIENCING SOME TURBULENCE – PLEASE STOW AWAY YOUR ELECTRONIC DEVICES LHR | HND | BOG | LAX,” remains impressive for the evocative three- dimensional works that the artist has concocted through a reverie of statelessness. This accumulation of works is part of a travelogue notated through art objects and subtitled with airport codes. Derived from a residency the artist spent in Japan— the HND in the exhibition’s elaborate title stands for Haneda Airport, one of the two major airports that service Tokyo—the body of work on display is a contemplation on the sea, urban versus rural influence, and the morality fables that have historically arisen when nature and culture are placed in opposite corners of the ring.


There are squid ink prints and some charcoal drawings included here. They are unimpressive but inoffensive. It is in his object/sculpture where Daniel Silva’s deft and poetic shrewdness is on full display. Tako, Tako (8), 2018 is a collection of magnets quilled with iron filings, copper tubing, and fractured octopus traps—stout, thick-walled vases used to entice and ensnare. The pieces of broken crockery rest beneath the iron florets while the copper tubing rises high from the floor and makes an abrupt turn into the wall. Takotsubo, literally octopus pot, is also a heart condition, takotsubo cardiomyopathy (broken-heart syndrome), first described in Japan thirty years ago. It almost exclusively affects women of grandmotherly age. In this context the work can be read as a generational rumination on longing and loss.


One Drop, One Nail – One Nail, One Drop, 2018 is a pair of parallel black squares jutting from the wall. Each is divided into two panels, one side swarming with nail heads, the other salt stained by the drying of sea water. This ritual of time passage and marking, of daily devotion and doubt, is our self-portrait, our yin and our yang harnessed hopelessly together.


In a gallery, and a class, by itself is Silva’s Wax and Guts, 2018, a marionetting of waxy turnbuckles and black sailcloth bladders. Rubber cables rigged from the ceiling suspend at varying heights a collection of rice filled sacks, each one singularly shaped but all of them organs of an unnamed biology. The installation resembles an extruded Gorky painting, or a tableaux vivant of Ahab’s torment.


It is a work of exacting and sorrowful beauty.


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