“Gesture acts as a catalyser for a more emotional and less cerebral way of painting.”
Interview by: Natalia Gonzalez Martin
Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your background? Where did you study?
I was born and raised in the south of Brazil. I have Italian, Polish, Portuguese and native Brazilian (indigenous) heritage. I relocated to London 8 years ago and after a speedy art foundation I enrolled on a BA Fine Art course at Middlesex University. I have just graduated from an MFA Painting at the Slade. Prior to my pursuing art I studied Fashion Design and also Tourism Management (as you can see I was never really sure what to do with myself). My real interest in fine art started when I did a Museology course in my hometown. I have had many odd jobs, from courier to travel agent, event’s organiser, translator, tour guide, operations agent for an airline… the list goes on. But I believe that all this diverse experience has been most influential in shaping the kind of work I happen to be doing now.
How has coursing an MFA affected your work?
During my BA I tried a bit of everything, I was encouraged to have a go at all disciplines and for that reason I only tried painting on my final year. Despite the fact that I practiced for one year before the MFA I still felt very crude and in need of guidance and support when I started the course. At Slade I learned how to make lots of things from scratch: oil and acrylic paint, watercolour, how to correctly use mediums, acrylic and organic sealers, primers, supports, everything. One year was dedicated to learning the basics properly. I had excellent help at the Slade with these technical bits. As a result, studying painting through an utterly practical perspective reflected in a more primitive way not only of painting but also in contextualizing painting in the end. The course helped me shape my work under a conceptual outline in which I could indulge my experimental practice.
Your practice is very gestural and intuitive, the materiality on them is inescapable, what does this technique help you convey?
I want the paintings to communicate on a physical and bodily level first, hence the expressiveness in them. We believe perception presents us the world as it truly is; nevertheless this perception is mediated by our bodily senses and by our individual life experiences. I want to encourage the viewer to formulate peculiar connections with our tangible surroundings as well as with our individual and unique lived experiences. The paintings are not about the things themselves, but are reminiscent of these things; it is about a caught moment, a glance…this intangible portion of awareness is what I want to convey. The work is structured around this romantic element and of an empirical investigation of the materiality of painting. Gesture acts as a catalyser for a more emotional and less cerebral way of painting.
Ambiguity is part of the contextual structure in which the making is rooted: the work is borderline figurative and abstract, still life and landscape, simple and complex… I muddle background and foreground, so you don't know what is in front or what is behind, the work at times is more pictorial, sometimes is more metaphysical… so I’m really trying to address and be loyal to the conventions of painting but I also want to subvert those conventions. That is the main focus of my practice, it might have all these layers of other stuff and interest, but ultimately, it is about painting and I use those things as tools for painting. In essence, painting paintings about painting.
Tell us a bit about how you spend your day/studio routine? What is your studio like?
I am an early bird and I like to read before I start working; it puts me on the right frame of mind. I work a lot on paper, not only to have a starting point but also to build confidence, although I always improvise when painting and never duplicate something I did on paper onto the canvas. I move between large and micro paintings often and I like the shift that has to happen in order to adjust the making of each. I have things pinned on the wall, music on, sometimes a documentary, sometimes silence… I think it's very much like the usual studio setting that many artists have. I slack with cleaning my brushes but I have to be super tidy with everything else.
Until quite recently (end of august to be precise), my studio was at the Slade. I am currently working on artist books for a future project in a makeshift studio (in my living room) until my new studio is ready. This hiatus between studios is also forcing me to work mainly on my tiny paintings. It is really true that the work echoes the space where it is created; being the scale or something else, the environment invariably penetrates the work. The routine I have now is pretty much the same as I had at Slade minus the commute. I have had a job throughout the course and I still divide my time between that and my practice.
Your work gets inspiration from the mundane, what is the process of selection of those experiences?
My paintings are the by-product of a range of everyday stimuli, accommodating music, film, literature, photography and nature. The process of selecting those experiences is quite simple, I am likely to work with things that stick with me for some time, being a story in a book, a piece of music, a place, an artwork, weird and suggestive forms that I encounter on public environments…this kind of everything and nothing, it is about transforming experience through the amazing mutable nature of making paintings. I rarely paint from life, it is always a translation of something I saw, or I photographed, more loosely remembered and not strictly analysed and reproduced.
What artwork have you seen recently that has resonated with you?
I will not mention an artwork but a show: Howard Hodgkin’s Last Paintings at the Gagosian. I’m a big fan of Hodgkin. A tutor on my BA introduced his work to me many years ago when I was still very ignorant about British artists. But at that time I couldn’t feel it. I didn’t see any of his pictures in the flesh, just reproductions and that's not how you look at any painting, let alone how you look at a Hodgkin painting. When I saw his work at Alan Cristea I instantly understood what my tutor was on about. His last paintings were so simple and confident… I also like the tension between the image and the objecthood of the work, which is something I always try to have in my own work.
How do you go about naming your work?
I try to leave the meaning of the work as open as possible, so people can use their own sensitivities and familiarities in order to understand it. Titles often anticipate or direct the interpretation of the viewer and I try to avoid pointing to a final explanation. I want to invite people to play a more active part in reading the work, involving the viewer in this amazing activity that is to contemplate and to make sense of what we see. So the titles I choose can have different connotations or be utter nonsensical, depending on each viewer’s subjective intake.
Is there anything new and exciting in the pipeline you would like to tell us about?
There is! I have just been long listed to the first Elephant x Griffin Art Prize so fingers crossed I will make it to the final selection and exhibition in November. I have just completed a residency at Slade (as part of their summer school programme) and have interesting projects that are being born out of my time there. I am also helping to design a new window display for Cornelissen & Son through a partnership with Winsor & Newton, which will be installed soon. I have other plans that might come to life (a residency in my home country and a few other shows) but it is early to give any information yet!
Publish date: 02/10/2018
All Images are courtesy of the artist