The figure and narrative are tools which have become increasingly important to a new generation of artists. In effort to place a grounding familiarity and bodily structure within our uncertain political climate, Daniel B. Dias, alongside contemporary counterparts like Nicole Eisenman, have turned toward the “neo-surreal”, where familiar images and stories are warped into a psychological portrait of our times and experiences. Dias plumbs the depths of his own multi-cultural history to present imagery that is both deeply private and universal; teasingly oblique and resonant; humorous and deadly serious.

Dias, born in São Paulo, Brazil, moved to the United States with his family at the age of 10. After graduating from college he moved again, this time to China, where he lived and worked for six years. The amalgamation of these cultural shifts composes a hybrid of societal values. Dias questions these contradictions of identity and spirituality where cultural lines blur. As Emily Newman states: “As a native or near-native of these three places, and a tourist in each as well, Daniel’s gift, his breadth of perspective, is also his curse in that his identity is wedged, or rather stuck in a holding pattern circling between these three psychic spaces at all times.”

In The Influencers Mean No Harm, the “influencers” Dias references are not the social media influencers who clutter up our digital feeds, rather, they are cultural and spiritual influencers who have driven him in his life and in his work. Stemming from his Brazilian heritage, the concept of Brazilian Spiritism, “Espiritismo”, assumes that humans are essentially immortal spirits that temporarily inhabit physical bodies for several incarnations in order to attain moral and intellectual improvement. In the spirit of Espiritismo, Dias articulates his past life regressions, in Brazil and beyond, with paint. In Deep Down Voices, the artist is pictured lying on the floor with candles around him. An imagined, surreal spirit from his past life conjoins with his figure, melding with and reimagining his visage, blurring his identity. The process of creating these works allows Dias to break from the labels of singular “cultural identity” in an attempt to invoke a past self – whoever that may be.