DARCILIO LIMA (1944 - 1991

Stephen Romano with Kelly Baum, curator of "Delirious" at MET Breuer featuring the art of Darcilio Lima


Darcilio Lima included in the exhibition "Delirious"

at the Met Breuer NYC through January 17 2018

curated by Kelly Baum


Darcilio Lima included in exhibition at

Reina Sophia Museum, Madrid

Mário Pedrosa: On the Affective Nature of Form

April 28 - October 16, 2017 / Sabatini Building, Floor 3

Darcilio Lima installation at Reina Sophia Museum, Madrid 2017





Illustrated catalog of the works of Darcilio Lima   
with essays by Barbara Safarova and Guilherme Gutman.
published by Stephen Romano Gallery .


Darcilio Lima, The Obscure Brazilian Artist Who Helped Shape Surrealism




Darcílio Lima: Opus Magnum


Darcilio Lima on Hi-Fructose



Darcilio Lima on Monster Brains


The works of Darcilio Lima were featured at PULSE NEW YORK Art Fair, 
May 9 - 12 2013 and at 
The METRO SHOW Jan 2013  NYC NY as well as OUTSIDEAR ART FAIR 2012. 



Darcilio Lima on The Worleygig





Darcilio Lima at Scope Art Fair 2017


Darcilio Lima at Outsider Art Fair NYC 2017



 Darcilio Lima and Henry Darger at PULSE Art Fair New York 2013.



Henry Darger, Darcilio Lima, Martin Ramirez, Judith Scott, Bill Traylor, Outsider Art Fair New York 2012.  Stephen Romano, NYC NY.






Darcilio Lima's Opus Magnun by Barbara Safarova  2013.
“When we say things openly in fact, we do not say anything. But when our language is 
           encrypted and put in images, we cover the truth.”
           Rosarium philosophorum, 1550
In the first half of the twentieth century the Surrealist movement accomplished in the arts what thinkers like Carl Gustav Jung or Gaston Bachelard achieved at the 
theoretical level: the rehabilitation of image in connection with mythical thinking. Gradually, image became not only another way of seeing the world, but also a true 
epiphany of the being of things, a means of knowledge — a secret number of human destiny.
If at first sight the Brazilian artist Darcilio Lima belongs to the Surrealist aesthetic, he seems first of all a true spiritual brother of the great alchemists of the 
Renaissance.  Through their Art, in search of the Opus Magnum (1), they aimed to heal the sick body of the world by creating a new order. According to the Greek 
pre-Socratic philosopher Empedocles, all life is a movement born out of the tension between the bipolar forces of love and hate. These forces correspond in the Opus Magnum 
to the successive operations of solution and coagulation, dissolution and fixation, distillation and condensation, systole and diastole, the “yes and no in all things.” (2)  
In Arabic alchemy there are also two bipolar agents—sulfur and philosophical mercury, the sun and the moon, the white wife and the red husband.
The high point of the “Great Work” is the conjunction: the union of masculine and feminine principles—the igneous spirit and aqueous material—at the wedding of heaven and 
earth.  And the unbreakable product of this cosmic coupling is the Philosopher’s stone symbolizing perfection, lapis—“the son of the red sun”—or Christ-Lapis: “After much 
suffering and great pain / I have risen, clarified and spotless.” (3) 
We could conclude that the eroticism and sexuality Lima shows in his images—and that leads to the meeting of two opposite aspects—functions not only as a highly personal 
version of an alchemic treatise, but above all as a critique of false moral doctrines and religious dogmatism, instruments of sexual repression. Behind the violence of 
Lima’s images we can perhaps also discover a highly intelligent and insightful critique of the materialist and mechanical worldview, the disastrous repercussions of which 
have been felt throughout the twentieth century until today.
In an attempt to grasp the meaning of Lima’s artistic production—and in the absence of other artist’s testimonies other than those left in his work—one can begin by 
identifying certain esoteric symbols.  In his work, we often perceive the triangle—the symbol of fire—the circle and the dot, with the circle representing eternity, and 
the dot the concentration of time in one single moment , the snake, (4) the signs of the Zodiac, and the eye of the awakening, among others. Lima’s secret universe is 
designed as a kind of cipher, a mysterious writing, which also features in some of his images. 
We are reminded of signs that appear on the scales of a turtle, and that would have been the ancient Chinese model for their language’s first characters.  Is the purpose 
of this enigmatic writing to confer a sacred power to language? There are also other references, more aesthetic than esoteric. The hand that pinches the breast of Lima’s 
polymorphic beings again points to the artist’s double affiliation: on one side the late Renaissance School of Fontainebleau (the portrait of Gabrielle d’Estrées and One 
of Her Sisters, 1594) as a possible source of inspiration, on the other, certain works of his fellow Surrealists.  We can recall, for example Hans Bellmer’s Games of the 
Doll (5) (1949)—the hand-colored black-and-white photographs of a tied, decapitated female body—or Metamorphosis of Narcissus, by Salvador Dali (1937).
In his poetic essay Arcane 17, André Breton emphasizes the quadruple nature of the fairy Melusine, a Surreal figure par excellence. According to Philippe Walter, this 
marine fairy from the other world, holder of exceptional knowledge, mistress of war and fate, is a beautiful Surreal emblem provided that it is understood she is a 
figure of the imaginal—that is, “representations which have the property of being autonomous as objects, while putting us in the presence of shapes or patterns without 
equivalent in experience.” (6) This hybrid woman from the other world is simultaneously a snake, a fish and a bird. Melusine participates in these creatures’ respective 
crucial elements—earth, water, and air—as their direct emanation.  Lima shows us her monstrous nature—the figure lacks an essential element of the human anatomy.  
The head is often replaced by that of a dragon. Some of her members are enlarged, others are absent.  She is characterized by an all-powerful animality, voracity, the 
presence of double sex. Her bisexuality is related to very specific reproduction—conception by mouth.  Her fishtail links her to the world of water and denotes her 
initiatory knowledge. This Siren has sometimes other feet, which may also function as an allusion to the tripod of the cauldron found on Lima’s images, part of an 
initiation ritual unfolding before our eyes.
The divinatory power of this androgynous being is more than just anticipating the future. It is as if to say something could provoke the destiny, produce the event 
itself. This may be one of the essential qualities that the monstrous fairy Melusine shares with the artist.  For Lima, to draw is to trace a sacred space—to avoid 
being devoured? —to ward off the invisible.  His gesture of disseminating hermetic symbols by association becomes an operative phenomenon similar to geomancy.  
It is as if it is his way of accomplishing a process the aim of which is the transmutation of his own self.
The German Christian mystic and theologian Jakob Böhme (1575-1624) was the first to conceive the life of the cosmos as a passionate struggle, a perpetual genesis: 
“I recognized, I saw the three worlds in me...and I saw the good and bad in everything and how the one flows from the other...I saw chaos where everything lay 
helter-skelter.” (7)  Self-reproduction, self-perpetuating, self-healing of the body to the point of re-organizing it—in this way, through his work, the artist 
becomes an omnipotent creator.  By facing his own reflection in the void, he rises from the ashes. By the creation of new links between hypertrophied organs, 
and multiple arms and limbs, Lima invents a new cosmogony.  The alchemist’s Art and artistic creation overlap without any possibility of separation: the crown of 
perfection symbolizes the ultimate completion.
1. The Opus Magnum: the “Great Work” starts from a mysterious material called materia prima, in which the isolated parts are totally opposed, then gradually integrated 
to achieve the state of perfect harmony known as the Philosopher’s Stone or lapis philosophorum. 
2. German Christian mystic and theologian Jakob Böhme (1575-1624).
3. Rosarium philosophorum, 1550.
4. According to the mystics a powerful king of nature who has the capacity to heal the entire world, like a saline balm. 
5. Hans Bellmer, Les Jeux de la Poupée, Paris, Les Editions premières, 1949.
6. Philippe Water, La fée Mélusine. Le serpent et l’oiseau, Paris, Editions Imago, 2008, p. 207.
7. Jakob Böhme, quoted in Alexander Roob, Le musée hermétique : Alchimie et mystique, Taschen, 2011 (original edition Benedikt Taschen Verlag, 1997).
see also
Creature Discomforts:  By Robin Cembalest, executive editor of Artnews.   see on tumblr
Darcilio Lima – Artist, Prophet, Time Traveler by Beate Echols



PDF format
1975, 9 1/2 x 16 inches
edition of 500, each hand signed and numbered