I work with images. Printed images. Figurative images, mainly photographic, found in newspapers and magazines, in fleamarkets and antiquaries or in private, family albums.
What interests me in those images is...
- A certain visual quality of indeterminacy, a certain blurr, a lack of sharp contours, which is very common in old photographs.
- A certain subject. It can be space, natural or urban, people, animals or objects, in landscapes, portraits, or so-called "genre scenes" of daily life.
- A certain feeling. Something odd, strange, out of place, decontextualized, uncomfortable, even frightening, like scary weather, desolate places, with signs of destruction, desagregation or abandonment.
What do I do with them? How do I use them?
I paint from them. Which means, I use them as reference. Sometimes - and that's what I've been doing lately - I copy them so as to create some sort of illusion, making them look like the images they already are. «A two-dimensional illusion of a two-dimensional object.» (Gombrich)
Sometimes I copy them through marks as precise as possible. Other times, I interpret and slightly modify them, exploring issues of structure, visual balance, composition and expressiveness, through colour and brushwork.
What are my references in Art History to do this kind of work?
- Fresco paintings from Antiquity and the Renaissance (mural paintings, picturing landscapes and "groteschi").
- The tradition of the "trompe l'oeil", in Antiquity (specially Etruscan and Roman) and in the classical tradition, from the Renaissance to the Realists of the 19th century.
- All the work (either drawings, paintings or engravings) of the "painterly painters", from the 15th to the 19th century: Tiziano, El Greco, Velasquez, Rembrandt, Rubens, Guardi, Tiepolo, Watteau, Goya, Turner, Daubigny, Manet and the Impressionists, Bonnard and Van Gogh.
- More contemporary outcomes, like the work of Gerhard Richter and Michael Borremans (two painters who admittedly bring to their paintings the visual qualities and atmosphere of printed images) and Haris Epaminonda (an artist working mainly with found images and objects, to create disruptive environments, disturbant to perception, either in three dimensions or in books).
What are the sources/materials from visual culture that I refer to in this kind of work?
- Photography, specially from artist-photographers or movie directors (the portuguese-french Gérard Castello Lopes and the iranian Atom Egoyan would be two of a big spectre of authors).
- Cinema (as art, not as entertainment).
- Old Books and other memorabilia.
What are my aims? What do I want to achieve? What do I expect? What am I really interested in?
The western culture is full of images. But of all the images that happen to cross our way, only a very small percentage are we able to look at. And of those few images, we actually see - meaning that we look at them for more than two seconds - very little (if its content or shape really interests us, or if, even uninterested, we happen to dedicate to them some care and attention).
Questions arise, when looking at an image: What is happening? How is the content represented? Is there any hidden meaning? Are there any unconscious motivations? What connections are there to be explored? And what questions is it asking?
In my current research, I use images to slightly transform them. Either because I translate them to a different medium, and because I allow myself to make little shifts to the pictures that I use.
I believe that those two things are very powerful transformers of the picture, the result being that the viewer can start to see in a different, more attentive, way.
Like Douglas Huebler once said, «the world is full of objects, more or less interesting. I do not wish to add any more». I also don't want to (simply) add any more images to the world. Enough is enough.
But there's one thing that interests me, and that thing is a way of looking and pointing to a certain content. In order to do that in painting, new images have to be created.
As I use painting - a specific medium with a specific "language" - which is so much connected to tradition - I feel able to establish a continuity with the painters that came before me, I feel able to contribute to a dialogue that started long ago in the History of Art.