Chico da Silva - New Now: Modern & Contemporary Art London Friday, April 19, 2024 | Phillips
  • “I feel art in my thoughts. I stand still and imagine the fish and the birds in movement, then I start formulating the colours. Formulating is a gesture. I paint and sing, feeling the history of the painting for myself or for those who listen to me. They say my painting is folk because I paint what I focus on with my eyes, according to my feelings. In the case of modern art, it’s formulated via engineering. It’s designed via thought, by painting with no feeling […].”
    —Chico Da Silva
    Francisco da Silva, known as 'Chico', was a Brazilian artist of indigenous descent who established a pioneering studio practice, passed down to the later generation of Contemporary Brazilian Indigenous artists. Born to a Brazilian mother and a native Peruvian father, he was one of the first artists with indigenous ancestry to achieve international fame in the 1960s. The artist's body of work represents and praises the Brazilian fauna and flora, rejecting its decorative component to revitalise it as a proper formal expression of the organic subjectivity of the Amazon area. This painting from 1972 reveals the theatrical qualities of Chico da Silva's eccentric gouache and dynamic compositions featuring Amazonian mythologies. These mythical figures, referred to as 'bichos’, appear frozen in animated combat and hallucinatory spheres of bright colours and patterns. They underline the painter's familiarity with the creatures of his natural surroundings and his interest in Brazilian mythologies and cosmologies.


    Chico da Silva’s legacy was only recently reconsidered, revealing him to be an artist of remarkable talent and a visionary painter for whom working alongside his local community was the instinctive result of a long-established way of living centred around communal gathering. In growing a practice that avoided the ambitions and ethic systems of the mid-century Western Art world, Chico forged an independent Brazilian artistic form as visually striking as resilient to colonial interference. 


    Chico da Silva's works are held in leading international institutions and private collections such as the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Tate in London, and the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, among many others. After completion, this painting was acquired directly from the artist by the renowned Brazilian architect and curator Janete Costa, remaining in her prestigious art collection for many years. Chico da Silva represented Brazil in the 33rd Venice Biennale in 1966. There is a current exhibition of his works at Massimo de Carlo in Paris.

    • Provenance

      Collection of Janete Costa, Recife (acquired directly from the artist)
      Private Collection, Brazil
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

Property of a Private European Collection



signed and dated 'FDSILVA 1972' lower centre right
oil on canvas
59.6 x 70.8 cm (23 1/2 x 27 7/8 in.)
Painted in 1972.

Full Cataloguing

£15,000 - 20,000 

Sold for £17,780

Contact Specialist

Charlotte Gibbs
Head of New Now: Modern & Contemporary Art
+44 20 7901 7993

New Now: Modern & Contemporary Art

London Auction 19 April 2024