Chico da Silva - Modern & Contemporary Art: Evening & Day Sale London Thursday, June 27, 2024 | Phillips
  • “I feel the animals, the jungles, the fantastic worlds, entering the phase of other worlds.”
    —Chico da Silva

    A fertile marine environment populated by mystical beings, Fish and sea snake​ exemplifies the exuberant, meandering dreamscapes that are central to Chico da Silva’s practice. Intricately constructing the creatures’ scales through a dazzling mosaic of blues, greens and pinks, Chico articulates their fluid, elongated fins that twist across the yellow surface with delicate brushstrokes: a hypnotic swirl of flora and fauna.


    Internationally celebrated during his lifetime for his contributions to Brazilian Indigenous art, Francisco da Silva’s artistic legacy has only recently been reinvigorated. More commonly known as ‘Chico’, the artist was born between 1910 and 1923, raised in the Amazon rainforest before settling in Quixadá, Brazil. After a tragic rattlesnake bite claimed the life of his father in 1935, Chico and his mother moved to Fortaleza where he lived for the rest of his life and commenced his artistic career. Painting fishermen’s houses with motifs like fish and birds that became established in his mature practice, Chico explains he initially worked with rudimentary materials like ‘chalk, charcoal and burnt clay, adding colour with fruit and leaves’.i It was in this context that Swiss art critic Jean-Pierre Chabloz discovered Chico’s work on a visit to Praia Formosa in 1943, a fundamental figure in promoting Chico’s paintings nationally but also in Europe.


    Amidst the rise of Neo-concrete art in Brazil during the fifties and sixties, Chico remained rooted in his imaginative vision and community, informed by folklore, astronomy and occult sciences over minimalism and geometry. Representing Brazil in the 33rd Venice Biennale in 1966, Chico was dedicated to his local region, training students from the favela Pirambu in Fortaleza with his technique: a cooperative studio that became known as the Ateliê do Pirambu (‘the Pirambu School’).


    Posthumously, the work of Chico is now being re-evaluated. With a major solo exhibition of his work held at Pinacoteca de São Paulo from March to May 2023, Chico’s solo exhibition at Massimo de Carlo, Paris recently closed in April 2024. Chico’s paintings are held in significant public collections worldwide including, among many others, the Tate, London; the Museo del Barrio, New York and the Centre Pompidou, Paris.



    i Chico da Silva, quoted in Luiz Ernesto Machado Kawall, ‘In Ceará, the Glory of the Primitive Chico da Silva’, Chico da Silva and the Pirambu Workshop, exh. cat., Pinacoteca de São Paulo, 2023, p. 238

    • Provenance

      Private Collection, Fortaleza (acquired directly from the artist)
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

Property of a Distinguished Collector


Fish and Sea Snake

signed and dated 'F D Silva 1966' lower centre
tempera on paper
65.4 x 96 cm (25 3/4 x 37 3/4 in.)
Painted in 1966.

Full Cataloguing

£30,000 - 50,000 

Contact Specialist

Louise Simpson
Associate Specialist
+44 7887 473 568

Modern & Contemporary Art: Evening & Day Sale

London Auction 27 June 2024