On Daniel Sousa

Posted by | George William Price | Posted on | April 8, 2015

I’m delighted to welcome SAIC art history graduate student Elizabeth Metcalfe to our blog for the second time. Elizabeth writes about Sousa’s unique ability to address the intrinsic human condition through his delicate animation. Keep your eyes peeled for Elizabeth’s upcoming interview with the artist himself!

Daniel Sousa

Daniel Sousa

Painting springs to life in Daniel Sousa’s award-winning animated short films. The delicate, hand-drawn animations are deceptively simple.  Silhouettes dance and tumble across the frame, a creative force that appears effortless despite the meticulous and time-consuming labor of the artist’s hand. The muted, monochromatic, landscapes of Sousa’s films, which sometimes morph into full-blown abstraction, mirror the themes that unite the artist’s many projects—boundaries, liminal space, and the nature of duality. Within a stark, animated world of black and white, Sousa explores what separates animals from humans, questioning the stability of these categories by highlighting the gray space that lies between.

Feral, the short film that won Sousa an Academy Award nomination, tells the tale of a wild child—like Romulus and Remus, Tarzan, or the protagonist in Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book—who is abruptly thrust into civilized society. With only animalistic instincts to rely upon in a foreign and terrifying schoolyard, the boy is tragically caught between two worlds that can never fully accept him. This film, along with other equally compelling short animations by Sousa, will be featured in an upcoming screening at the Gene Siskel Film Center this Thursday.

Perhaps what makes Sousa’s animations so universally appealing, besides their hauntingly beautiful craftsmanship, is their ability to address the intrinsically human condition of being stuck between two ends of a spectrum. In a world that seeks order and categorization, humanity exists and evolves within the messy, ambiguous, gray space that lies between good and evil, success and failure, courage and fear, and memory and imagination. The fact that Sousa’s films, all under fifteen minutes long and without dialogue, so succinctly and beautifully convey this reality of human existence is nothing short of magic. Don’t miss this unique opportunity to see Sousa’s exquisite hand-drawn animations on the large cinema screen.

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