THE BOOK OF IMAGINARY BEINGS - FANTASTIC
ZOOLOGY : DANIEL CARRANZA AND BORGES

Sol Biderman

Foundation literary award, accompanied by his translator Norman di Giovanni,I chatted with both of them for hours at the governor's palace about zoologiafantástica, which di Giovanni translated into English as "The Book of Imaginary Beings". Borges, who was fully blind at the time, was unable to perceivewhether or not his interlocutors were fully absorbed or bored by his ceaselessmonologue about the books. He chatted about his Manual de ZoologiaFantastica, his youth in Geneva, his gaucho ancestors, and old Icelandic termsfor witches, or furies, or fate, a brilliant hodgepodge of reality, imaginationand witches brew ( the furies in Icelandic means "witches" in old English )I remained fascinated, sitting next to him on a couch, What absorbed memost the absolute absence of reality in his conversation, leaping from fantastic zoology to the names of streets in Buenos Aires near the National Library.Ifmy fellow Fulbright friends and others in Buenos Aires had not often helped him cross the street from National Library, he most probably would have been run over. Also at the Governor 's palace in Sao Paulo, when Borges received the literary award that evening in 1970, was the professor of Luso-Brazilian Literature (of Texas and Vanderbilt ),AlexandreSeverin, who, ignoring Borges'monologue on fantastic zoology, prophetically said "The future will be focusedon the environment."

In 1957, at about the same time Borges published"Manual de ZoologiaFantástica" later expanded into"EI Libro de los SeresImaginarios"("Book of Imaginary Beings")Daniel Carranza's mother in Buenos Aires was drawing fantastic zoomorphicanimals to entertain the child, about two years old, not far from the apartment where Borges lived with his aging mother.Carranza showed his mother the mythical designs he himself created at random on different pages of hissketch book and separate sheets of paper. A few blocks away from where Borges had delineates the imaginary alicanto, the basilisk, the amphisbaena,the celestial rooster in The Book of Imaginary Beings , little Daniel Carranzawas constantly filling every scrap of paper with beings no less phantasmagorical.

At this time Latin American literature a world of magical realism and pictorialmagic through Carcia Marques and Borges, a world apart from what wasgoing on in the Northern Hemisphere.

In Argentina, where the cultural vanguard has had close ties with Paris eversince the beginning of the 20th century, Carranza was born, relentlessly toproduce whatever the vaguard or transvanguard is promoting. Yet his art is both of his time and ahead of his time. when most the world was indulgingin abstract references of Rothko, Motherwell and Pollock,Carranza prefiguredthe movement towards a type of magical figurativism, just as Garcia Marquezproduced the magical realism of "A Hundred Years of Solitude", and Borgeshis "ZoologiaFantastica".

To be more precise, magical figurativism predates Argentina, reverts back to the Toltecs, the Aztecs,the Mayas,the Incas who created forms of zoomorphismto generate a magical intervention of nature- such as a favorable corn crop.Artists in Latin America have for centuries created figures - zoomorphic or not-that related to their culture, their people , their magic.

There is one area, however, where Daniel Carranza does not focus on magic, but on danger, danger to the environment he so painstakingly reflects in his art: a field of diaphanous butterflies or a skyscape enveloping his favoritetrees. His defense of the environment, his flight against all forms all forms of pollution - air, soil, water and visual pollution - has been constant andunflagging.

In some of his paintings the human body is transposed upon the head ofsome animal-as though the architect Violet Le Duc in his 19th centuryreconstruction of Notre Dame (after the damage during the French Revolution)might have glued onto the misplaced body of a saint the head of a gargoyleon the facade of the Cathedral. In one painting, which brings up references to Goya, a man in 18th century attire bears the head of a bull, In anothera zebra is wearing peasant attire in Goyesque colors (Goya in his lighter phase prior to the gloom of his Napoleonic war phase ).

Carranza's technical training is impeccable, and, despite the manipulated trends and counter trends, the public has always wanted some reference to the figurative, technical skill, and harmony, wholeness and radiance ( the essenceof the esthetic theories of St .Thomas Aquinas and, by expropriation, JamesJoyce )

The Latin American public has its own preference, and references. They haveselected Orozco, Siqueiros, Diego Rivera,Frida Kahlo, RemediosVro, Portinari, Claudio Bravo, Tamayo, and Botero, To this list another name is being broached - Daniel Carranza, who follows in the footsteps of these artists, who catch the spirit of their time and steward it on for future generations

Carranza arrived in Brazil in 1982 and through his training in Brazil by learningtechniques from the most skillful artists,spent hours each day analyzing brushstrokes, pigments, shades, composition, the light and shadow. In a museum hewould spend hours analyzing the brush strokes of his masters Goya, Rembrandt and Caravaggio, not to copy them but to learn from them how to impose orsuperimpose on the canvas the techniques of transmitting color, form and composition transmuted by his inner eye, and as a result, he possesses a finely balanced figurative language and a unique technique.

Little did I associate the prophetic words of AlexandreSeverino at the Borges reception in 1970, with the exhibit of Daniel Carranza in 2012 .."The futurewill focus on the environment". All his life Carranza has focused on the environment.

Carranza's pictorial understanding reflects his message, in the case of hisnew exhibit in Sao Paulo, the role of man as ecological steward of a word thatmust be passed on to the next generation in as decontaminated a positionas possible - a message frequently critical of the world, but in the final contexta message of luminous joy.

His works have been exhibited in one-man shows in galleries and museums in New York, Seoul, Tokyo, Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, In 2003 the Argentinean government donated to the United Nations Organization, Division for Sustainable Development in New York - the painting "QUO VADIS"–as a celebration of The International Year of Fresh water.

As it takes several months, sometimes a year to complete a painting withhis painstaking self-exigent requirements, and as his paintings are often sold off the easel. it is difficult for Carranza to set up one man shows, like thecurrent exhibit in Sao Paulo. Carranza is one of the artists who attracts the admiration and respect ofother artists as well as major collectors of the art world.The art of Carranza needs no footnotes, no explication. His work reflects a special sensitivity , an "inner eye" which rightfully transmutes the best of the past to create a workfor the present that hopefully predicates a better future for the environment for which he has fought so tirelessly.

Member of the International Association of Art Critics and former contributor to Time