Walking down Chicago's Western Ave. the other night, I noticed a beautifully lit gallery full of vibrant greenery contrasted with black and white illustrations. Although I had walked past the art space dozens of times, it was my first time stepping inside Vertical Gallery, which was exhibiting work from Brazilian multimedia artist Alex Senna.
Any surface on which Alex Senna can draw/paint/sculpt/spray, he does so in a signature style. From sides of buildings to the insides of drawers to sketchbooks falling apart, they all contain black and white worlds where surrealism, romance, and isolation collide. While Chicago hosted his first solo U.S. show (it finished on the 23rd), Senna then popped over to New York to create a few commissioned murals. We communicated via email and Senna answered a few questions about the art world of São Paolo, Rino Gaetano, Anamnesis, and more.
This is your first solo US show, correct? Can you speak on that?
Yes, I had already done exhibitions in Europe and Asia, but in the United States it was the first time. Very happy with the result.
How did you get connected with Vertical Gallery in Chicago?
Two years ago I participated in a collective exhibition with them. It was my first contact with the gallery.
You're currently located in New York? Are you living there now or based in Brazil?
I came to NY to do a commissioned job, I still live in Brazil, more specifically in São Paulo.
What's the art scene like in your hometown?
The art scene in São Paulo is very vibrant and active, but in this case, I can only speak of the street art / graffiti scene that is the scene that I accompany. In this segment, São Paulo is very happening by the large number of people who currently paint on the street.
How would you describe your style to a blind person?
I would say: what is drawn are things that you hear out there.
From sculptures to paintings to murals, do you approach each medium differently?
I think that as much as the support changes, the idea is the same.
What's the origin behind you titling the exhibit Anamnesis?
The origin of the word is Greek. Anamnesis (from the Greek ana, bring back and mnesis, memory) is an interview conducted by the health professional to his patient, which intends to be a starting point in the diagnosis of a disease or pathology. In other words, it is an interview in which the doctor helps the patient to remember all the facts that relate to the illness and the sick person.
My idea is to propose a series of questions to somehow activate the memory of the viewer.
Outside of your own art, what have you been listening to recently? Who has been inspiring you?
I was very influenced by the Italians, at the moment I hear a lot Rino Gaetano.
What's the rest of the year looking like for you?
I still do not know, it's not clear to me. I still have some things to do here in the United States. In October, when I go back to Brazil, I will think about it.
Do you have any advice for visual artists working on their craft?
I think that the artist must always run after his dreams, and making them happen is not a matter of luck. Go to your dreams and do not expect him to come to you. Summing up: save money and travel.
Any final thoughts / words of wisdom?
"Art exists because life alone is not enough." - Ferreira Gullar