This month Bushwick painter Ariel Caetano De Souza will be exhibiting his collection TRANGELS, an energetic array of visual art depicting experiences of the LGBTQ community at the gallery Paradice Palase, which describes the work of the Brazilian-American trans artist as “scenes of angelic non-binary beings that explore themes of battle, city life, and sensuality”.
De Souza told Bushwick Daily that his work aims to connect with experiences that he or those around him have had, using photography to help subjects visualize their personal stories. By including the photographs in the exhibit, the artist enables the viewer to understand these intimate moments—moments of loss, transformation, and rectification.
In turn, viewers are able to contrast the photos with De Souza’s translation of those moments through bold oil paints, graphite, and airbrushes applied to wood canvases.
The earlier works of the series use robotic-like imagery and hospital environments, which De Souza relates to his own personal experiences.
“I use these robot references because I was thinking about transitioning and I felt like I was taking care of myself. There’s also a part of me that was still assimilating to the gender normalities of the universe by making changes,” De Souza says.
“Moving away from that to a more angelic sphere, I embraced the weirdness and magic of having lived two different genders in my life and other people having these experiences as well.”
This embrace of dual existence manifests itself throughout his work as he blends foreground and background and leaves partial bodies transparent. Nevertheless, none of the layers are obscured in that process and instead merge together on the canvas to form a unified image.
The works are almost collage-like, yet De Souza achieves a strong composition with an understanding of creating negative space within positive.
“I’ve been playing around with letting the background show through,” he explained of his painting titled ‘The meeting of a foot and its shadow on a pavement’.
“I’ve been letting the history show.”
In a self portrait titled ‘Cupid Daglyn Claymore’, his body glows under fiery motifs bursting from his hands, the tools of his creation—his greatest form of expression. He is seen leaping over a cityscape, while the transparency of his shoes makes visible his transition from city to sky.
He also embedded cryptic alphabetic symbols in his work, allowing his voice to feel omnipresent. The symbolic moments spread throughout the works allow viewers to apply their own reasoning, decipher the works for themselves, and as a result connect with the artist.
“I just got into the habit of making symbols, free handing and labeling them, then bringing them to the piece,” the artist says. “They also have a deeper meaning for those that want to find it.”
De Souza’s works are abstract in a way that forces viewers to form their own conclusions, but there is no dispute in the depiction’s authenticity. His reservoir of layered imagery is a confirmation of the depth of LGBTQ experiences and transformation.
“There are a lot of performances and personal histories that came out of these paintings.” De Souza said, as he motioned to a figure wearing a small ring of a broken heart. “A story might come into a painting but that may not be the only thing that’s existing in it.”
TRANGELS will be on display at Paradice Palase at 1260 Broadway, Brooklyn until 2/28. The gallery is open to the public on Saturdays, from 1-5 pm and by appointment. Catch details here.
Top image shows De Souza standing in front of his works Miles/Felicia/Atlas and Reel boi.
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