Denilson Baniwa

Barcelos, Amazonas, 1984. – Lives and works in Niterói, Brazil .
PIPA Online 2019 winner.
PIPA 2019 nominee.

Sometimes, the challenge isn’t occupying positions. When the positions that exist don’t serve your purpose, it’s necessary to create something new. Denison Baniwa is an indigenous artist, he is indigenous and is an artist. His indigenous being allows him to make art in a different kind of way, in which imaginary processes are forced interventions in a dynamic history (the history of the colonisation of indigenous territories we now know as Brasil) and the interpolations with those that embrace its responsibilities.

Closer to PIPA: the artist speaks in the Institute collection

Check out bellow the ideas that were behind the artwork “Forget me, please!”, 2017, donated by Denilson to the Institute collection when he won the PIPA Online in 2019:

“I’m going to talk a little bit about the work that was donated to PIPA Prize when I won the PIPA Online. It is a reference to Lichtenstein; it’s based on one of his works and on the artist’s technique. When I made this piece, I was thinking about the relationships that indigenous people have with the rest of the world; in how indigenous people are seen, most of the time, at universities, in different positions, at the office; in how society in general sees indigenous people as exotic, as anything but a normal person. So this painting deals with this, with these social relationships in which indigenous people are seen as exotic, as exotic bodies and almost objectified, so it’s from this place. It’s a work in acrylic on canvas that has this reference to Lichtenstein, to Pop Art, to comic books.

The choice of using Pop Art is related to my extensive contact with comic books’ art. I like Pop artists, and this work has in particular a reinterpretation of a piece by Lichtenstein, so I tried to use the same elements as him, but adapting it to an indigenous place, from an indigenous perspective.

The speech bubble in English is precisely to make the work more universal, being a tribute to Pop artists, to comic books, and also extrapolating the Portuguese language. I think this use of English is also related to many people from outside wanting to visit the indigenous village, to get to know the indigenous people, and that usually happens through a very stereotyped mindset.  There’s this appeal coming from foreigners, when they want to meet the indigenous people in the Amazon”.


Video produced by Do Rio Filmes, exclusively for PIPA 2019