A Leaf Shapes the Eye. Daniel Steegmann Mangrané. until May 20, 2024. MACBA Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona. Spain

In his installations, sculptures and augmented reality creations, Daniel Steegmann Mangrané addresses today’s social and ecological emergencies. ‘Eu era gases puro, ar, espaço vazio, tempo’ (I was pure gases, air, empty space, time). This verse by the Brazilian poet Stella do Patrocínio encapsulates the concepts of impermanence and transience that are integral to Daniel Steegmann Mangrané’s artistic practice. Drawing upon biology and new anthropological discourses as conceptual frameworks, Steegmann Mangrané proposes a holistic worldview in which there is no distinction between humans and their environment, and where relationships between all elements are in constant flux. His works questions the colonial dualisms such as culture and nature, subject and object, reality and dream, while also engaging with the subjectivity and social agency of non-humans and non-living elements.

Having lived in Rio de Janeiro for two decades, Steegmann Mangrané understands the rainforest as more than just a place, but as a living being that embodies the complexities of our contemporary world, whether they be environmental, political, or social, and serves as a metaphor for the delicate balance and interconnectedness of all things. Climate change further reminds us that we are all part of the same organism and entangled within a complex network of relationships of mutual transformation. Similarly, the artist’s work is greatly influenced by Brazilian Neo-Concrete artists. Like them, Steegmann Mangrané considers sensory engagement as a socio-political and democratic entry point to artwork, dissolving boundaries that attempt to compartmentalise our experience of the world and transforming the exhibition from an inanimate object-to-be-seen into an ever-changing entity to be experienced with our bodies and all our senses.

A Leaf Shapes the Eye is Daniel Steegmann Mangrané’s first retrospective and brings together works that span twenty-five years. A choreography between space, light, objects, and people, the exhibition is an invitation to engage physically, sensorially and intellectually, and reshape our relationship with nature.