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Alex Senna and the Melancholy of Modern Life

Words:

Edd Norval
March 18, 2020

Nothing is black and white. So the saying goes. Life, it's claimed, exists in the various shades of grey that occur in-between. The moments where nothing is defined, nothing certain, but open to feeling and interpretation. Alex Senna's monochromatic works remain open to interpretation, depicting intimate situations in urban environments, with a clear concept and idea yet thrives in its stark contrasts.

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Senna comes from Sao Paulo, one of the planet's most densely populated cities. In Sao Paulo, a lot of things happen a lot of the time. There's a constant buzz and hum of life, never ceasing, as moments fly by in an instant, left as only memories in the minds of those present. Senna, in amongst this metropolis, captures these moments and distills them into the most stylistic and simple form he can, eschewing all shading and superfluous shapes for bold monochromatic works that are easy to take in during the unrelenting pace of the city.


Vaguely surrealistic, the murals emanate a kind of joy that is nostalgic, evocative of simpler times in simpler places than they're painted. It's this melancholy that hangs over Senna's works, offering us less of a respite than a moment to try and think of something else capable of transporting us back to another time and place.


Painting with the ability to capture these ephemeral moments gives them a paradoxical permenancy in amongst the chaos of life in Sao Paulo. Senna retains a similar atmosphere across all of his works, weaving them together through the feeling they give, contributing to the sense that they're parts of a larger narrative framework, telling their own stories to passersby like an urban zoetrope.

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For the Brazilian, it doesn't just matter what he is painting, but how it's painted, how they're formed and how they'll scale, from both smaller pieces to giant facades. To fully immerse his audience as intended, nothing can be left to chance. The location is crucial to the way the painting will be interacted with.


There's no denying that Senna's works will speak more directly to a particular demographic, the ones who feel isolated or alienated from the ebb and flow of modern life. In the light touches of joy he adds to his murals, those who can relate will find solace in them and in these moments, Senna can continue in the cyclical trajectory of inspiration to create more.

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