Filipe Rocha da Silva featured in ‘After Constructivism’ published by Yale University Press
by Brandon Taylor
Yale University Press, 2014
The Portuguese painter Filipe Rocha da Silva later developed a series of visual formats that referred analogically to the essential process of the Portuguese revolution of 1974 – its democratic impulse – by invoking the collective power and purpose of the human mass as a patterned synchronization of its many-millioned parts. ‘What I tried to so was humanize pointillist paintings’, the artist has said in retrospection, ‘turning them into huge battlefields where crowds could move and express themselves, becoming as illegible as the word in Camus’s story “The Artist at Work” and achieving an abstract quality when observed from a distance’. The nanoscale humans that populate da Silva’s works can be looked on as resembling both brain cells and individual neurons, according to the artist, or the complex patterns of pandemic diseases and computer viruses; consequently his paintings can be placed alongside equally-conscious work by the likes of Vija Celmins or more recently Susan Derges, who look at the heaves or at water; or the later work of Alighiero Boetti. More recent theory has it that swarming systems may be self-regulating and, moreover, that self-regulating rather than divine inspiration may be a structural feature of the expanding and contracting universe as a whole. The mathematics and physics of swarming have also led to speculation on the spread and patterning of social contagions such as addiction and even crime.
– Brandon Taylor