Conversation between Irene Amore, Eduardo Padilha and Jaime Gili
Published in 'transbarroso. 15 LatinAmerican artists in London'. Cemvo, London, 2002
EP: We could find it perhaps thinking them as answers to Minimalist influxes. In my case, an awareness of Arte Povera, specially the works of Pistoletto and Penone, came when I was studying in Europe, at the Rietveld Academy. It was not a direct influence, but rather an interesting encounter. The De Stijl building itself, and the feeling to it, indirectly lead me to engage in the use of found materials: clothes, pictures, films. The clash of the personal and the public, the familiar and the strange, started then to be very relevant. In that environment, I started to create a soft parallel thinking. A kind of crease or crack in that modernity, due to my own displacement in it. In such modern environment, which seemed to me to deny all references, I started to create mine, to use and invent new identities, and also to map my own. If the aesthetics of Povera appeared somehow as a European answer to the success and clean cold structures of American minimalists, I was in a cold modern environment breaking similar structures, and that could link with your revision of cold and warm painting.
IA: To what extent the found random objects you work with do refer to their origins, and to what extent they are displaced? Maybe you can explain through some of your works. Also where does the displacement lead you to?
EP: These objects are in a space of displacement already, they have been discarded by their owners, and most of the time are in a kind of limbo just waiting for a final discard. When I find them, I am challenged to revivify them in a different environment, whilst trying to maintain their dialogue with a lost origin and open a new discourse from there. The displaced new life of the object contrasts with the interventions I inflict onto them with new elements. This applies to films as well as to my work with embroidery and mattresses. Displacement occurs in various levels: from the personal to the material, from the psychological to the physical. While the origin of my subjects keeps ambiguous, Jaime's work seems to break with this reference. In your case, the displaced object is reintegrated in the society and functional (as subject!). I see you as a voyeur of this phenomenon.
JG: It is clear that the Brazilian modernist project was more successful than the Venezuelan one. But my first contact with a strong and quotable modernity, comes when I am still in Caracas. I see of great importance to my practice, the art that I grew up watching: The influence of the international sixties in the Venezuelan seventies. I think countries like Venezuela still show the possibility of a project of modernity, hidden in an all-embracing hope still alive when all other possibilities seem to fail, but educated in such context loaded mainly with Op Art, (for many the first movement that comes to the mind when thinking about the failure of modernism) my work in Europe tries at first to assume such inheritance in an ironic way. The 'modernity in the tropics', will then become a 'modernity in the tropics, in the memory': two displacements amplified in a new context.
At present my ongoing series of paintings PhA, depicting shapes of car doors on flat backgrounds, could fit into questions that appear similar to Eduardo's if we consider the car doors as readymade objects, appropriated from the garages around my studio in south London. But that comes after the first sight when facing my work: the cleanness of the shapes still relatable with a kind of minimalism.
IA: Your work, if compared to that of Eduardo, seems to keep less traces of its found objects' origins, seems to be more re-constructed according to a new structure, almost a new "programme". To what extent you control the dynamics of such artworks? Where does the "desire" of such objects sit?
JG: One of the "desires" I talk about is already between inverted commas: sits in society in the first place, in the slick forms of cars they want to sell to us as symbols of a social status. That one is a side I want to question confronting it with my reality, the one directly surrounding me: People in the garage next door are often painting real car doors, using materials similar to my own. Their workshops change day by day as mine does, as they are constantly dis/assembling cars. That is another desire: to know what they know, to become them. Since Mr. Ford's first assembly line, Western societies have been shaped in too many levels by everything related to transportation. My work would relate rather to the scrapyard of this economic history and its opposite, the most shiny surface it shows: a layer full of advertisement, stickers and customised number plates, linking nationalism and identity around the pure surface of car paint. On the other hand, my series never deny an enjoyment of paint(ing) and the beauty of a shiny surface. This is perhaps the most real "desire" that I try to set free in my work.
Irene Amore is an Independent curator. Lives and works in London and Rome
Eduardo Padilha is and artist. Lives and works in London and Amsterdam.