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A New Perception

Museum Link:

Source Link:

Date Minted:  July 5, 2020

Artist Description: -Clear the way, To rise us above, Let go, Old skin, Red sky, Blue sky, Within.-  

CohentheWriter’s Commentary:

Like the subjects in his works, artist Silvio Vieira seems to have burst into the world fully formed. From the minting of his first work on SuperRare —Humanseed Act.3: Prana in January 2020— onwards, Vieira’s style was already complete and idiosyncratic. Psychedelic imagery characterized by vivid colors, human figures, repeated motifs, and a composition making extensive use of wispy lines; Vieira’s style is oft-approximated (probably unwittingly) but never imitated. A New Perception, pulled from the middle minting period of Vieira’s art, contains all of these things, using them to emphasize the nature of spiritual identity, and the delayering process that occurs upon spiritual revival (more on that later). In terms of actual subject matter, however, A New Perception is one of Vieira’s densest and least immediately forthcoming works. Elsewhere, the artist might be content creating images that are aesthetically complex but simple and one-note in what they actually depict. But A New Perception, in content and composition, is as layered as its subject matter, and since we have only a very abstract Artist Description to guide us towards its meaning — “-Clear the way, To rise us above, Let go, Old skin, Red sky, Blue sky, Within.-”— it seems that Vieira seeks either subtlety or difficulty. Not all spiritual artwork need be so immediately forthcoming, mind you, and it’s not that A New Perception is some impossibly-intricate psychospiritual text, but it has a coyness about it, a reticence to let the casual observer deeper into its core, a coyness that hides fruit beneath its skittish surface. 

Fits in with the actual subject of the piece, doesn’t it? A New Perception is all about unpeeling the layers of the body, though perhaps molting is the better word, and finding some new, superior version of the self underneath that which has been cast off. The central figure in the piece, bearing Vieira’s signature white and pupil-less eyes, is painted over in almost silver hues, with lines spanning its skin that seem, in places, to mirror a human body’s circulatory system, though elsewhere they seem to be random hooping ropes that just happen to crisscross an arm, a thigh, a foot in particular patterns. Astride this figure are the three previous (or not?) versions of itself that have been cast off. All are reduced to flapping, squelching skin, cut in half as if by scissor, with each half falling horizontal to the original body. The first, a pale and diseased-looking orange, is the largest and assumedly the first (oldest) to have been shed, its two pieces perpendicular to the original body almost like some bizarre clothing item flapping in a wind gust. The two others are either in the process of splitting off from the central figure or have just recently done so; they are pink in hue and much physically closer (i.e. nearer) to the original form than their orange brother. This scene is accompanied by an absolute cavalcade of more classically and recognizably spiritual imagery. Like the glowing white orb in the central figure’s midsection, for instance, or the oscillating rays of energy emerging from its forehead. All the abstract shapes, for another example, like the white blobs that seem, at once, to be swans and also clouds and also, well, nothing in particular. There are cloudbursts and wispy, floating lines —Vieira’s aforementioned signature—, and a background that is very subtly crossed-over by triangular patterns of black and sanguine red. All the action seems to take place in a circular frame. Everything outside the action seems to be taking place up in some kingdom of clouds. 

It’s interesting, the blending of familiar psychedelic imagery with that centralized subject, which is, from what I’ve seen, unique. That’s what I mean about this piece being coy: Not that it’s necessarily uninterested in revealing what it has to offer, but that it might be easy to overlook its merits in favor of other flashier art or animated art or something more overtly away from the norm. In all honesty, it took a little while for this piece to awaken in me. I suppose I too needed to shrug off layers of myself before I could find the shiny metallic heart of my own artistic appreciation.

I actually think the less focused psychedelic imagery is a bit of a weight upon this piece’s shoulders, because the more I think about the central image, the more I’m enticed by it. A New Perception is one of the most vivid descriptions I’ve seen of the Buddhist Nirvana concept, whereby Nirvana is not somewhere we get to, but somewhere which is perpetually within us if only we can scrape away the distracting and egotistic and attachment-eager versions of our self in the way. To conjure an image of the human as a kind of Russian Nesting Doll conjures, in me, visions of eternity. Endless layers of skin —thin and vapid and obstructive by nature— with each, once peeled away, revealing something fresh and raw and pink underneath. But of course, with time, those layers also become corrupted, becoming orange like the first, and so we tear away and tear away, seeking something altogether different, that version of ourselves shining like metal, uninhibited by all this extra skin, so to speak.

Another real joy of A New Perception is an extension of realizing how self-aware the title is. Because what if we aren’t watching a body in the action of being unwrapped, but we are seeing the initial process, before all that: The “soul,” gilded and beautiful, and all the layers of self —memories and desires and relationships and fears, etc. etc.— emerging from the ether and affixing themselves to it, wrapping it up, mummifying it beneath human concerns. Is that, my friends, the new perception you were looking for? Is it the one Vieira intended? Perhaps. Or perhaps just one of many. I suspect only time spent dwelling on the piece will reveal the others. 

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