Nuno Saraiva

Nuno Saraiva

“The humor that makes us reflect seriously or even brings the ability to make us change a political opinion that we thought was unshakable.
It is this encounter, the fragility with the unshakable, that attracts me in drawing (and writing) humor.”

Nuno Saraiva is a name that no longer needs an introduction, but even so, we want to know: do we introduce you as a cartoonist, illustrator or artist?

I never thought much about it. I would say that to “cartoonist” I would add “political”, to “artist” add “visual” or “graphic”, I also make comics, which is where I come from. What best defines me will be the word “illustrator”, it really brings together in meaning everything I do. Even in wall paintings I am the illustrator.

 

João Paulo Cotrim said about Nuno: “you take too seriously the not being too serious”, is that something completely natural for you? With others, with work and with yourself?

Perhaps, in an intimate conversation somewhere on a long night, I would say with my eyes on the bottom of an empty glass, that I can’t stand egocentric people, that those who spend hours of their time polishing themselves in a kind of continuous masturbation irritate me. about your audience. You see a lot of that in these areas of the visual arts and there’s no patience. The small and colorful corner of Portuguese illustration will not be an exception. I don’t see myself in vanity and I feel some discomfort in the media exposure as a rule. What is completely natural for me is optimism and good mood, I’m not angry with the world and I only very rarely make this type of innuendo and always about the bottom of an empty glass. What I really take seriously is the final purpose of all my works, the humour, the meaning that I intend to offer, even if ambiguous, even if dramatic. And friends, friends I take them very seriously, they are peers of my work. João Paulo Cotrim, my dear fat friend, knew me very well when he wrote these lines.

 

This posture should make it much easier to work with people who are not exactly in your tune.

Those who know me know that relaxation will come from here, in fact too much relaxation – from the preliminaries of the idea to the critical political content, to the subliminal messages always present in my work, to the deadlines that I push to the limit of the bearable (laughs). I just don’t make it easy on one thing, derailing from the rhythm used by some of my colleagues: I refuse to present sketches. Due to my calendar always bursting at the seams, I got used to not wasting time on preparatory drawings, I never outlined alternatives or solutions B or C. Until now I’ve always done well, but if the client refuses the work I send finished – and it’s already happened – I just have to do it again or refuse. I don’t remember ever slamming the door.

REGRESSO DE D.PEDRO, A SALVAÇÃO DO BRASIL.
Inimigo Público, Série II.
Jornal Expresso, June 2022.

Your characters are fascinating. Well-natured, humorous, and sarcastic. Do you consider that your art meets what was done, for example, by Gil Vicente? Ridendo Castigat Mores, the Latin saying for “correcting manners through laugh”.

As opposed to the easy joke designed to exercise the muscles in your face, to laugh until you lose your breath, I appreciate much more that kind of humor that disarms us, strips our souls and throws us to the ground with a punch in the stomach. And then it lifts us up, but we still look for a line or point of reference to balance us, such is the disorientation caused by the shock. More: that hours later we are still thinking about it. Thinking. The humor that makes us reflect seriously or even brings the ability to make us change a political opinion that we thought was unshakable. It is this encounter, the fragility with the unshakable, that attracts me in drawing (and writing) humor.

“Canção de Lisboa”, trophy for the Especialidade category, Marchas de Lisboa, 2018.

Is there any social-political situation that you especially like to caricature?

In front of a sick Cavaco or a disconcerting Sócrates, I elect the People of this country. The people in their inertia, who don’t manifest themselves, who throw the state of things behind the State’s back. Raphael Bordalo Pinheiro spent his life satirizing the rotten elements of the agony of the constitutional monarchy, kings D. Luís and D. Carlos, the Church, the military, the loan sharks, the politicians, especially the ministers, and above all Fontes Pereira de Melo. Does anyone today remember to associate Bordalo with these figures that made him draw so much ink? No. Bordalo will always remain intimately connected to his anti-hero Zé Povinho, an always unpleasant representation of his contemporary Portuguese people, bowed down, submissive, and little inclined to revolt, or at best to revolt in a small, quiet way, expressed in a fist (this gesture in some cultures, including the Portuguese culture, has the same meaning has a middle finger).

 

Have you ever turned down jobs that went against your social beliefs and ethical values?

Yes, but respecting those same ethical values, I don’t want to reveal here who or which ones. Because they were people or companies who came to me but for some reason did not understand that I was not in the same line of thought, or who simply thought that a designer should be impartial, apolitical and accept whatever is asked of him. This kind of acephalous treatment still happens regularly with other colleagues of mine – namely in advertising agencies.

Santo António e o Mundo, trophy for the Especialidade category, Marchas de Lisboa, 2019.

In 2018, in an interview you gave to Diário de Notícias newspaper (23 September 2018) you mentioned intolerance, about being accused of discrimination when it comes to caricatures. Besides being asked to reduce the cleavage on your characters, have you ever made racial or gendered requests? All of this, has it ever caused you to limit your creativity due to society’s standards?

The political correctness card is alienating today’s society. We witness episodes that end up being counterproductive, like making black people Caucasian or attacking white people for daring to have dreadlocks – aren’t these reactions proto-racist? In my work, which I like to think of as evolving as opposed to regressing, before thinking of the objective (the reader), I think of the people who ask me for this work. Faced with the danger of a possible timely reaction that could lead to a lawsuit and threaten jobs, I think ahead and limit the speed of the thing myself. But when the editing does not depend on third parties, as happened during the publication of my Diário de Uma Quarentena em Risco (Diary of a Quarantine at Risk), political cartoons that I aim to do every day for a year (March 2020 to March 2021)… then I break the whole thing.

 

You are a teacher in an art school, and adding the workshops, teaching occupies a large part of your life. Have you always felt a calling for this? Or was it something that came later into your life?

I realized the passion for teaching from the very first class, I was still in my twenties and had students older than me. Today the age distance is inversely greater. More than teaching, I go for sharing and mutual learning. As I get older, I feel that I am losing notions of realities that pass by us but that we don’t live with. A generation gap that in the lack of translation we don’t understand, in the dialectics, in the customs, in its codes. Teaching 18, 20, 25 year olds helps me to better understand this present.

Composition planning for the comic strip:
“HOJE TU ÉS ASSIM. Mas já pensaste como serias HOJE se vivesses como antes do 25 de Abril de 1974?”
(Almada magazine, April 2022)

Nuno, which of your characters would you invite to dinner?

I would invite Zé Inocêncio to the Bairro Alto of the early 90s, to have dinner at Marão. And the Abília Guard to Papa-Açorda. But she had to be in uniform.

 

Is there any kind of project, service or brand that you would like to work with, artistically?

Underground Lisbon, its neighborhoods, I’m very much of the street. But if I lived comfortably, with financial stability, I would dedicate myself fully to books.


Photographies by Inês Ventura, at the artist’s atelier, in Santa Apolónia, Lisboa.
1st June 2022. 


ART

Attended the Degree of Communication Design at IADE; Design Degree at the Faculty of Fine Arts of Lisbon and Painting Degree at the Faculty of Fine Arts of Lisbon.

Collaborator in practically all the Portuguese written press, with emphasis on the weekly newspapers Independente (the epic boards of Filosofia de Ponta), Expresso, Sol, Record, Público newspaper and TimeOut Lisboa.

Diário de Uma Quarentena em Risco (2021 Edições Pim!)

Lecturer at Ar.Co: since 2001 and Lisbon School of Design since 2019

 

LIFE

Born in the Mouraria neighborhood, Lisbon, although his family is from Almada.

Illustration for tablecloths, A Brasileira do Chiado, July 2022

“The humor that makes us reflect seriously or even brings the ability to make us change a political opinion that we thought was unshakable.
It is this encounter, the fragility with the unshakable, that attracts me in drawing (and writing) humor.”

Nuno Saraiva is a name that no longer needs an introduction, but even so, we want to know: do we introduce you as a cartoonist, illustrator or artist?

I never thought much about it. I would say that to “cartoonist” I would add “political”, to “artist” add “visual” or “graphic”, I also make comics, which is where I come from. What best defines me will be the word “illustrator”, it really brings together in meaning everything I do. Even in wall paintings I am the illustrator.

 

João Paulo Cotrim said about Nuno: “you take too seriously the not being too serious”, is that something completely natural for you? With others, with work and with yourself?

Perhaps, in an intimate conversation somewhere on a long night, I would say with my eyes on the bottom of an empty glass, that I can’t stand egocentric people, that those who spend hours of their time polishing themselves in a kind of continuous masturbation irritate me. about your audience. You see a lot of that in these areas of the visual arts and there’s no patience. The small and colorful corner of Portuguese illustration will not be an exception. I don’t see myself in vanity and I feel some discomfort in the media exposure as a rule. What is completely natural for me is optimism and good mood, I’m not angry with the world and I only very rarely make this type of innuendo and always about the bottom of an empty glass. What I really take seriously is the final purpose of all my works, the humour, the meaning that I intend to offer, even if ambiguous, even if dramatic. And friends, friends I take them very seriously, they are peers of my work. João Paulo Cotrim, my dear fat friend, knew me very well when he wrote these lines.

 

This posture should make it much easier to work with people who are not exactly in your tune.

Those who know me know that relaxation will come from here, in fact too much relaxation – from the preliminaries of the idea to the critical political content, to the subliminal messages always present in my work, to the deadlines that I push to the limit of the bearable (laughs). I just don’t make it easy on one thing, derailing from the rhythm used by some of my colleagues: I refuse to present sketches. Due to my calendar always bursting at the seams, I got used to not wasting time on preparatory drawings, I never outlined alternatives or solutions B or C. Until now I’ve always done well, but if the client refuses the work I send finished – and it’s already happened – I just have to do it again or refuse. I don’t remember ever slamming the door.

REGRESSO DE D.PEDRO, A SALVAÇÃO DO BRASIL.
Inimigo Público, Série II.
Jornal Expresso, June 2022.

Your characters are fascinating. Well-natured, humorous, and sarcastic. Do you consider that your art meets what was done, for example, by Gil Vicente? Ridendo Castigat Mores, the Latin saying for “correcting manners through laugh”.

As opposed to the easy joke designed to exercise the muscles in your face, to laugh until you lose your breath, I appreciate much more that kind of humor that disarms us, strips our souls and throws us to the ground with a punch in the stomach. And then it lifts us up, but we still look for a line or point of reference to balance us, such is the disorientation caused by the shock. More: that hours later we are still thinking about it. Thinking. The humor that makes us reflect seriously or even brings the ability to make us change a political opinion that we thought was unshakable. It is this encounter, the fragility with the unshakable, that attracts me in drawing (and writing) humor.

“Canção de Lisboa”, trophy for the Especialidade category, Marchas de Lisboa, 2018.

Is there any social-political situation that you especially like to caricature?

In front of a sick Cavaco or a disconcerting Sócrates, I elect the People of this country. The people in their inertia, who don’t manifest themselves, who throw the state of things behind the State’s back. Raphael Bordalo Pinheiro spent his life satirizing the rotten elements of the agony of the constitutional monarchy, kings D. Luís and D. Carlos, the Church, the military, the loan sharks, the politicians, especially the ministers, and above all Fontes Pereira de Melo. Does anyone today remember to associate Bordalo with these figures that made him draw so much ink? No. Bordalo will always remain intimately connected to his anti-hero Zé Povinho, an always unpleasant representation of his contemporary Portuguese people, bowed down, submissive, and little inclined to revolt, or at best to revolt in a small, quiet way, expressed in a fist (this gesture in some cultures, including the Portuguese culture, has the same meaning has a middle finger).

 

Have you ever turned down jobs that went against your social beliefs and ethical values?

Yes, but respecting those same ethical values, I don’t want to reveal here who or which ones. Because they were people or companies who came to me but for some reason did not understand that I was not in the same line of thought, or who simply thought that a designer should be impartial, apolitical and accept whatever is asked of him. This kind of acephalous treatment still happens regularly with other colleagues of mine – namely in advertising agencies.

Santo António e o Mundo, trophy for the Especialidade category, Marchas de Lisboa, 2019.

In 2018, in an interview you gave to Diário de Notícias newspaper (23 September 2018) you mentioned intolerance, about being accused of discrimination when it comes to caricatures. Besides being asked to reduce the cleavage on your characters, have you ever made racial or gendered requests? All of this, has it ever caused you to limit your creativity due to society’s standards?

The political correctness card is alienating today’s society. We witness episodes that end up being counterproductive, like making black people Caucasian or attacking white people for daring to have dreadlocks – aren’t these reactions proto-racist? In my work, which I like to think of as evolving as opposed to regressing, before thinking of the objective (the reader), I think of the people who ask me for this work. Faced with the danger of a possible timely reaction that could lead to a lawsuit and threaten jobs, I think ahead and limit the speed of the thing myself. But when the editing does not depend on third parties, as happened during the publication of my Diário de Uma Quarentena em Risco (Diary of a Quarantine at Risk), political cartoons that I aim to do every day for a year (March 2020 to March 2021)… then I break the whole thing.

 

You are a teacher in an art school, and adding the workshops, teaching occupies a large part of your life. Have you always felt a calling for this? Or was it something that came later into your life?

I realized the passion for teaching from the very first class, I was still in my twenties and had students older than me. Today the age distance is inversely greater. More than teaching, I go for sharing and mutual learning. As I get older, I feel that I am losing notions of realities that pass by us but that we don’t live with. A generation gap that in the lack of translation we don’t understand, in the dialectics, in the customs, in its codes. Teaching 18, 20, 25 year olds helps me to better understand this present.

Composition planning for the comic strip:
“HOJE TU ÉS ASSIM. Mas já pensaste como serias HOJE se vivesses como antes do 25 de Abril de 1974?”
(Almada magazine, April 2022)

Nuno, which of your characters would you invite to dinner?

I would invite Zé Inocêncio to the Bairro Alto of the early 90s, to have dinner at Marão. And the Abília Guard to Papa-Açorda. But she had to be in uniform.

 

Is there any kind of project, service or brand that you would like to work with, artistically?

Underground Lisbon, its neighborhoods, I’m very much of the street. But if I lived comfortably, with financial stability, I would dedicate myself fully to books.

ART

Attended the Degree of Communication Design at IADE; Design Degree at the Faculty of Fine Arts of Lisbon and Painting Degree at the Faculty of Fine Arts of Lisbon.

Collaborator in practically all the Portuguese written press, with emphasis on the weekly newspapers Independente (the epic boards of Filosofia de Ponta), Expresso, Sol, Record, Público newspaper and TimeOut Lisboa.

Diário de Uma Quarentena em Risco (2021 Edições Pim!)

Lecturer at Ar.Co: since 2001 and Lisbon School of Design since 2019

 

LIFE

Born in the Mouraria neighborhood, Lisbon, although his family is from Almada.


Photographies by Inês Ventura, at the artist’s atelier, in Santa Apolónia, Lisboa.
1st June 2022. 


Paulo Arraiano

Paulo Arraiano

“The relationship with natural space, physically, conceptually, literarily or even holistically is something that comes from numerous places, including through an influence of my grandmother, who was Argentinian and extremely connected to these issues, that brought me a huge relationship with the land, myth and other places of speech, other than the ones I found here. “

BIOPHILIA – 2020, Installation View at Mosteiro de Tibaes.
Curated by Inês Valle.

Paulo, your artistic universe conveys two, somehow, paradoxical emotions: calm and restlessness – maintaining a balance. Are you aware of the impact of this dichotomy in the expression of your work?

According to François Matarasso – Art comes from a place of restlessness – The restlessness is and will always be part of the creation process, it works for me as a research engine and research booster. Contemporary artistic production is based on questioning, the creation of questions, and in my case, I like to use the term visual seismography, where the author measures waves concerning new natural, social and cultural paradigms in contemporary discourse. But yes, a constant search for the place of tranquility and being is natural to me, the importance of recognizing certain personal paths that, in my case, led me to study and investigate, for several years, matters such as Chinese medicine, shiatsu, sound healing, among others, and my deep relationship with the sea gives this structure to my work and research. This same relationship with the sea, that is very present in my work, has this same issue, being the sea a hyper emotional object (Timothy Morton) that automatically relates to the same dichotomy between calmness / restlessness. Which, in a way, are inherent elements of all human and natural existence.

 

In 2011 you worked as an art director and designer, today as an artist. Is your artistic process based on an organic change that meets your personal evolution or on a need to evolve in your art?

Once again, enters the process of a restlessness related to the idea of creation. My academic background is related to Literature, Philosophy, Psychology and Communication; however, the universe of image and sound has always been present, both at a family and personal level. My father was an architect and my mother a writer and journalist, both music and book collectors. All this universe deeply influenced me, and I have always been connected to numerous musical projects. Design and art direction came naturally as an extension of the academic path in the universe of communication, predominantly in areas such as music, fashion and editorial, but the creation process was always present and accompanied my professional path at the time. Art direction and design, in a way, generate a process that more and more I felt was inadequate to my essence, because the conditioning side in the creative process or the very mercantile objective of it disturbed me deeply. Once my artistic path took a larger place, it easily overlapped, taking on the essential role of my journey. Initially, I had a need to move away from all the techniques and technological tools I used in my practice and production, and painting entered relating directly to plasticity and matter, but with time I clearly came to realize that this was not enough for the themes I approached or the kind of questions themes and research that my work addresses and requires, and I ended up making peace with these production mechanisms, which I now consider essential to my practice, and although my work, even in video or image, has characteristics of the medium itself, it always ends up starting from a clearly pictorial principle and place.

 

It is noticeable in your work an interest in disciplines such as anthropology, biology, oceanography, artificial intelligence, bio and nano technology, history, mythology. Do you have collaborations with professionals in these more scientific areas?
And artistic collaborations, do they represent a significant part of your process?

The relationship between natural and non-natural space has always been something that interested and disturbed me. I grew up near the sea and had a huge presence and influence from it while growing up. The relationship with natural space, physically, conceptually, literarily or even holistically is something that comes from numerous places, including through an influence of my grandmother, who was Argentinian and extremely connected to these issues, that brought me a huge relationship with the land, myth and other places of speech, other than the ones I found here. These made me interested in research, concerning the physical body and the natural body, themes such as matter-non-matter, biosphere, extinction, transhumanism, climate change, natural and human diaspora, Pan-oceanism, and Anthropocene. Starting from a principle like acupuncture that when we place a metal, a foreign agent in a living body, we create an inflammatory process, causing the cells to move towards that point in a healing method. The creation of a work, exhibition or project works like a geographical acupuncture process where this process of questioning through the work produces this same inflammation, drawing the cells into a process of transformation.
In my production process collaboration with various areas such as academic, scientific research is inevitable, collaborating with biologists, scientists, scholars and thinkers, or people related to certain types of work in different types of medicine, shamanism, etc. The dialogue between science, magic, technologies, and other elements are essential to my research and production. This whole process is one of enormous share without which my work could never exist. I play countless times with the idea of “plastic autistic”, from which I intend to escape in my research process and even production. I soon realized that to work with the themes I relate to I wouldn’t have to be in the studio representing them, but rather in deep dialogue and collaboration with them, and this can only be done in the field. The camera, microphone or other elements of dialogue with the natural environment end up working as brushes, without leaving a mark on the ground, and thus being able to create more by working together with them.

BIOPHILIA – 2020, Installation View at Mosteiro de Tibaes.
Curated by Inês Valle.

The location of the Re_Act Contemporary Art Laboratory in the Azores archipelago, co-founded with Paulo Ávila Sousa, is on purpose?

No doubt about it. The Azores work for me as an extremely biophilic process and an enormous laboratory for research and work as well as a place for sharing and dialogue on these issues I mentioned above.
The fact that in a “rock” in the middle of the Atlantic, curators, thinkers or academics gather every year to work intensely with artists, both from different continents, in this archipelago is not a coincidence. The strength of the place, its geographical component, the volcanic presence and the island element makes the whole process extremely immersive and intense and, in a way, provides an extremely deep connection in the object of study. An artistic laboratory is developed there based on Terceira Island, which focuses on establishing a philosophical thought not only about myth and history, geopolitics and colonialism, but also about environmental justice, climate change, extinction and ecology. This residency addresses the question of the Anthropocene and the geographical divisions imposed on a Hyper object like the ocean. Between performance, writing, technology and environment, artists here are invited to create a thought about the indivisible relationships between natural and human diaspora and invited to think about the ocean from a holistic perspective of cultural, visual, textual and material interrelationships, filtered through contemporary art practices. How, from a diversity of materials and references, and the interweaving of artistic expression with the multiplicity of political, aesthetic, and philosophical discourses on art and nature, identity and space.
Artists such as Paul Rosero Contreras, Regina de Miguel, Jakob Kudsk Steesen, Adrien Missika, Pedro Barateiro, Richard Healy, Ingela Ihrman, Diogo Evangelista, Mit Borrás, Virginia Lee Montgomery, Daniel Van Straalen, Gabriela Maciel, João Paulo Serafim, Antonio Bokel, among others, and curators such as Borbála Soos, Angels Miralda, Irene Campolmi, Ultrastudio, and Scandale Project, among others, have already visited the site. The location and the specificity of the archipelago are essential to the whole creative and human process of everyone who has been there. It is, without a doubt, a privilege to be able to share the experience of being with other peers and to be able to think in a place like this archipelago that allows enough distance from the urban spectrum and the common urban place characteristic to cultural development and presentation and in a way to drop some exoskeleton intrinsic to it in this place that allows to look at the work in a more holistic and human way and create a closer dialogue with the surrounding.

INHALE, EXHALE (self breathing kit)
2020, Full HD Video on Led Wall 3m57s, 200x100cm
Installation view at Travessa da Ermida, Lisbon
Curatorial Text: Borbála Soós

And regarding WATA Publishing can you share how it all came up?

In a very specific context, in which we globally found ourselves, due to the pandemic, the lockdowns, and the impossibility for artists to develop their research through artist residencies, Re_act Contemporary had the impossibility to receive artists and the impossibility to exhibit.
WATA emerges in dialogue between my editorial and graphic background, as well as my research as an artist on the oceans and issues related to natural and human diaspora and climate change with Camila Maissune, graduated in visual anthropology, independent curator, researcher and curatorial assistant at Maat, she is someone extremely connected to the editorial component and who had already developed her research and PhD on the Indian Ocean.
The word WATA comes from – Wata Mommy – better known as Yemọja in Yoruba. This assumes itself as a publishing project that brings together artists, curators, and thinkers between contemporary art, anthropology, and science through a visual laboratory that raises critical questions about current movements in contemporary societies that aims to work closely with thinkers, theorists, and artists from the European continent, Africa, Southeast Asia, and South America, focusing on issues related to ecology, ocean thinking, environmental justice, post-colonialism, diaspora, and ethnography.
The publication itself appears as the residency space, a laboratory of thought and dialogue between artists and thinkers, in essence, an exhibition space in book format.

Currently we are working on a publication project entitled – From the Indian Ocean – This publication will be co-edited by both of us and with the advice of the invited scholars: Daniela Zyman (Austria), artistic director of Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary (TBA21), Nada Raza (Dubai), artistic director of Ishara Foundation, Stephen Muecke (Australia) from Flinders University, South Australia, and Pedro Pombo (India) from the University of Goa. From the Indian Ocean has on board artists such as Max Pam (Australia), Dawit L. Petros (Eritrea), Raqs Media Collective (India), Ampannee Satoh (Thailand), Muhanned Cader (Sri Lanka), Lungiswa Gqunta & Thulile Gamedze (South Africa), Yasmin Jahan Nupur (Bangladesh), Donna Kukama (South Africa), Himali Singh Soin (India), Fazal Rizvi (Pakistan), Shilpa Gupta (India), Hassan Meer (Oman), Debbie Symons (Australia), Syowia Kyambi (Kenya), MAHI-Maritime Archaeology And Heritage and Veera Rustomji (Pakistan), among others, as well as thinkers and writers such as Nada Raza (Pakistan/UK), Stephen Muecke (Australia), Sama Issa (Oman), Sneha Ragavan ( India), Meg Samuelson (Australia), Jyoti Dhar (Sri Lanka), Thanom Chapakdee (Thailand).

Created as a residency and publication, From the Indian Ocean aims to fill a gap in contemporary art across the Indian Ocean in the well-researched theme of cultural exchange in oceans such as the Pacific or the Atlantic. We aim to deepen the discourse and understanding of how the ocean functions as a center of aesthetic and conceptual transnationalism and experimentation, closely linked to oceanic thinking and the current ecological and environmental crisis. This project thus brings together theoretical and visual essays by artists, curators, scholars and thinkers who critically engage with the Indian Ocean as a series of interconnected places; as a natural and cultural site that expands our imagination and contributes to the emergence of a new perspective on the correlations between art, ecology and identity.

INHALE, EXHALE (self breathing kit)
2020, Full HD Video on Led Wall 3m57s, 200x100cm
Installation view at Travessa da Ermida, Lisbon
Curatorial Text: Borbála Soós

Visual and Digital Arts – Cascais School of Arts & Design.
You are the course director, as well as one of those who designed the course.
What are the particularities of the students that reinforce and justify in you this mentoring role?

Designing a course related to new media in contemporary art was undoubtedly something extremely stimulating. We tried to develop an organic course that unites a strong theoretical and research component with fieldwork, production and exhibition methodologies. Numerous curators and artists are invited to collaborate, creating an organic structure of work for new thinking about art production in a post-internet age. It is extremely stimulating all the interaction with the group creating a core of thinking and joint discussion in a very horizontal format between students and faculty, and I receive a lot in return, it is a super instigating exchange because we end up creating an osmosis of academic thinking, research and artistic practices together.

Is there a medium that you haven’t worked with yet that you really want to try?

Particularly I don’t think I have been experimenting with numerous mediums throughout the process of research and creation because I can’t focus on just one specific medium. I never intended to have technical virtuosity in a specific medium, but to use the various possible tools to create a dialogue between the themes that concern me or about which I like to research and the receiver. Perhaps working on another scale at the image level, closer to the cinema that requires another type of investment and production could be an interesting challenge and one that makes some sense for the body of work.

 

Which medium do you like to work with the most?

My work always starts from an essentially pictorial place, initially I did it through painting, however I realized that when approaching themes related to certain ecosystems and natural scenarios it wouldn’t make much sense to be closed in a studio in the process of representation, but rather to be in the field and mostly in dialogue with these places to work with and not on them, giving them their place of speech. Thus, the camera ended up replacing brushes, and image and video ended up being a media with which I feel quite comfortable. It was decisive after a long period connected to painting to research and work on the NASA archive and work with cameras and satellites and images that put me in a place of questioning that really representation was not enough. On the other hand, I take enormous pleasure in working with organic matter, with soil, plants, and I discovered an enormous fascination for glass production, the whole process is super intense, magmatic, immediate and intuitive which are components that attract me greatly.

 

Is there a space or setting (dream place) where you would like to hold an exhibition?

No doubt there are several and they are the ones that many know as temples of reference, however more than that I feel like working more immensely in other continents than Europe, with other places of speech than a westernized vision regarding contemporary art, its production, canons and rules dictated by a certain market and point of view.

Olokun
2021, Installation view at Uma Lulik_, Lisbon
Curatorial Text: Borbála Soós

How to describe a typical Paulo Arraiano day? (Are there any typical days?)

Definitely not. Although after the pandemic I stayed longer in the same place for obvious reasons I ended up alternating between studio work and research and travel, field work and exhibition. I’m not one to stay at home or locked up in a studio for too long, I need input a lot and enjoy working in teams and creating dialogue. The travel component is essential to me as a human being and to my whole body of work and research, so it makes the idea of the -typical day- a little absent.


Photographies by Inês Ventura, at the artist’s atelier, in Juzo Village, Cascais. 
9th March 2022. (except the artwork)


ART

Paulo Arraiano is represented by the galleries Uma Lulik_ [Lisbon] and Dimora Artica / Candy Shake Gallery [Milan].
He is also co-founder of Re_act Contemporary Art Laboratory and Residency Program [Azores]; WATA Publishing and No.Stereo, (artist-run platform). His practice relates to an idea of visual seismography, measuring waves concerning new natural, social and cultural paradigms, his research, between matter-non-matter, involves body, landscape and technology, raising questions about climate change, biosphere, extinction, transhumanism and Anthropocene.

www.pauloarraiano.com

LIFE

Paulo Arraiano is a Portuguese artist born in Cascais in 1977, where he lives and works to today. 

Paulo Arraiano at his atelier, in Juzo Village, Cascais.

“The relationship with natural space, physically, conceptually, literarily or even holistically is something that comes from numerous places, including through an influence of my grandmother, who was Argentinian and extremely connected to these issues, that brought me a huge relationship with the land, myth and other places of speech, other than the ones I found here. “


Photographies by Inês Ventura, at the artist’s atelier, in Juzo Village, Cascais. 
9th March 2022. (except the artwork)


ART

Paulo Arraiano is represented by the galleries Uma Lulik_ [Lisbon] and Dimora Artica / Candy Shake Gallery [Milan].
He is also co-founder of Re_act Contemporary Art Laboratory and Residency Program [Azores]; WATA Publishing and No.Stereo, (artist-run platform). His practice relates to an idea of visual seismography, measuring waves concerning new natural, social and cultural paradigms, his research, between matter-non-matter, involves body, landscape and technology, raising questions about climate change, biosphere, extinction, transhumanism and Anthropocene.

www.pauloarraiano.com

LIFE

Paulo Arraiano is a Portuguese artist born in Cascais in 1977, where he lives and works to today. 

BIOPHILIA – 2020, Installation View at Mosteiro de Tibaes. Curated by Inês Valle.

Paulo, your artistic universe conveys two, somehow, paradoxical emotions: calm and restlessness – maintaining a balance. Are you aware of the impact of this dichotomy in the expression of your work?

According to François Matarasso – Art comes from a place of restlessness – The restlessness is and will always be part of the creation process, it works for me as a research engine and research booster. Contemporary artistic production is based on questioning, the creation of questions, and in my case, I like to use the term visual seismography, where the author measures waves concerning new natural, social and cultural paradigms in contemporary discourse. But yes, a constant search for the place of tranquility and being is natural to me, the importance of recognizing certain personal paths that, in my case, led me to study and investigate, for several years, matters such as Chinese medicine, shiatsu, sound healing, among others, and my deep relationship with the sea gives this structure to my work and research. This same relationship with the sea, that is very present in my work, has this same issue, being the sea a hyper emotional object (Timothy Morton) that automatically relates to the same dichotomy between calmness / restlessness. Which, in a way, are inherent elements of all human and natural existence.

 

In 2011 you worked as an art director and designer, today as an artist. Is your artistic process based on an organic change that meets your personal evolution or on a need to evolve in your art?

Once again, enters the process of a restlessness related to the idea of creation. My academic background is related to Literature, Philosophy, Psychology and Communication; however, the universe of image and sound has always been present, both at a family and personal level. My father was an architect and my mother a writer and journalist, both music and book collectors. All this universe deeply influenced me, and I have always been connected to numerous musical projects. Design and art direction came naturally as an extension of the academic path in the universe of communication, predominantly in areas such as music, fashion and editorial, but the creation process was always present and accompanied my professional path at the time. Art direction and design, in a way, generate a process that more and more I felt was inadequate to my essence, because the conditioning side in the creative process or the very mercantile objective of it disturbed me deeply. Once my artistic path took a larger place, it easily overlapped, taking on the essential role of my journey. Initially, I had a need to move away from all the techniques and technological tools I used in my practice and production, and painting entered relating directly to plasticity and matter, but with time I clearly came to realize that this was not enough for the themes I approached or the kind of questions themes and research that my work addresses and requires, and I ended up making peace with these production mechanisms, which I now consider essential to my practice, and although my work, even in video or image, has characteristics of the medium itself, it always ends up starting from a clearly pictorial principle and place.

 

It is noticeable in your work an interest in disciplines such as anthropology, biology, oceanography, artificial intelligence, bio and nano technology, history, mythology. Do you have collaborations with professionals in these more scientific areas?
And artistic collaborations, do they represent a significant part of your process?

The relationship between natural and non-natural space has always been something that interested and disturbed me. I grew up near the sea and had a huge presence and influence from it while growing up. The relationship with natural space, physically, conceptually, literarily or even holistically is something that comes from numerous places, including through an influence of my grandmother, who was Argentinian and extremely connected to these issues, that brought me a huge relationship with the land, myth and other places of speech, other than the ones I found here. These made me interested in research, concerning the physical body and the natural body, themes such as matter-non-matter, biosphere, extinction, transhumanism, climate change, natural and human diaspora, Pan-oceanism, and Anthropocene. Starting from a principle like acupuncture that when we place a metal, a foreign agent in a living body, we create an inflammatory process, causing the cells to move towards that point in a healing method. The creation of a work, exhibition or project works like a geographical acupuncture process where this process of questioning through the work produces this same inflammation, drawing the cells into a process of transformation.
In my production process collaboration with various areas such as academic, scientific research is inevitable, collaborating with biologists, scientists, scholars and thinkers, or people related to certain types of work in different types of medicine, shamanism, etc. The dialogue between science, magic, technologies, and other elements are essential to my research and production. This whole process is one of enormous share without which my work could never exist. I play countless times with the idea of “plastic autistic”, from which I intend to escape in my research process and even production. I soon realized that to work with the themes I relate to I wouldn’t have to be in the studio representing them, but rather in deep dialogue and collaboration with them, and this can only be done in the field. The camera, microphone or other elements of dialogue with the natural environment end up working as brushes, without leaving a mark on the ground, and thus being able to create more by working together with them.

BIOPHILIA – 2020, Installation View at Mosteiro de Tibaes. Curated by Inês Valle.

The location of the Re_Act Contemporary Art Laboratory in the Azores archipelago, co-founded with Paulo Ávila Sousa, is on purpose?

No doubt about it. The Azores work for me as an extremely biophilic process and an enormous laboratory for research and work as well as a place for sharing and dialogue on these issues I mentioned above.
The fact that in a “rock” in the middle of the Atlantic, curators, thinkers or academics gather every year to work intensely with artists, both from different continents, in this archipelago is not a coincidence. The strength of the place, its geographical component, the volcanic presence and the island element makes the whole process extremely immersive and intense and, in a way, provides an extremely deep connection in the object of study. An artistic laboratory is developed there based on Terceira Island, which focuses on establishing a philosophical thought not only about myth and history, geopolitics and colonialism, but also about environmental justice, climate change, extinction and ecology. This residency addresses the question of the Anthropocene and the geographical divisions imposed on a Hyper object like the ocean. Between performance, writing, technology and environment, artists here are invited to create a thought about the indivisible relationships between natural and human diaspora and invited to think about the ocean from a holistic perspective of cultural, visual, textual and material interrelationships, filtered through contemporary art practices. How, from a diversity of materials and references, and the interweaving of artistic expression with the multiplicity of political, aesthetic, and philosophical discourses on art and nature, identity and space.
Artists such as Paul Rosero Contreras, Regina de Miguel, Jakob Kudsk Steesen, Adrien Missika, Pedro Barateiro, Richard Healy, Ingela Ihrman, Diogo Evangelista, Mit Borrás, Virginia Lee Montgomery, Daniel Van Straalen, Gabriela Maciel, João Paulo Serafim, Antonio Bokel, among others, and curators such as Borbála Soos, Angels Miralda, Irene Campolmi, Ultrastudio, and Scandale Project, among others, have already visited the site. The location and the specificity of the archipelago are essential to the whole creative and human process of everyone who has been there. It is, without a doubt, a privilege to be able to share the experience of being with other peers and to be able to think in a place like this archipelago that allows enough distance from the urban spectrum and the common urban place characteristic to cultural development and presentation and in a way to drop some exoskeleton intrinsic to it in this place that allows to look at the work in a more holistic and human way and create a closer dialogue with the surrounding.

INHALE, EXHALE (self breathing kit)
2020, Full HD Video on Led Wall 3m57s, 200x100cm
Installation view at Travessa da Ermida, Lisbon
Curatorial Text: Borbála Soós

And regarding WATA Publishing can you share how it all came up?

In a very specific context, in which we globally found ourselves, due to the pandemic, the lockdowns, and the impossibility for artists to develop their research through artist residencies, Re_act Contemporary had the impossibility to receive artists and the impossibility to exhibit.
WATA emerges in dialogue between my editorial and graphic background, as well as my research as an artist on the oceans and issues related to natural and human diaspora and climate change with Camila Maissune, graduated in visual anthropology, independent curator, researcher and curatorial assistant at Maat, she is someone extremely connected to the editorial component and who had already developed her research and PhD on the Indian Ocean.
The word WATA comes from – Wata Mommy – better known as Yemọja in Yoruba. This assumes itself as a publishing project that brings together artists, curators, and thinkers between contemporary art, anthropology, and science through a visual laboratory that raises critical questions about current movements in contemporary societies that aims to work closely with thinkers, theorists, and artists from the European continent, Africa, Southeast Asia, and South America, focusing on issues related to ecology, ocean thinking, environmental justice, post-colonialism, diaspora, and ethnography.
The publication itself appears as the residency space, a laboratory of thought and dialogue between artists and thinkers, in essence, an exhibition space in book format.

Currently we are working on a publication project entitled – From the Indian Ocean – This publication will be co-edited by both of us and with the advice of the invited scholars: Daniela Zyman (Austria), artistic director of Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary (TBA21), Nada Raza (Dubai), artistic director of Ishara Foundation, Stephen Muecke (Australia) from Flinders University, South Australia, and Pedro Pombo (India) from the University of Goa. From the Indian Ocean has on board artists such as Max Pam (Australia), Dawit L. Petros (Eritrea), Raqs Media Collective (India), Ampannee Satoh (Thailand), Muhanned Cader (Sri Lanka), Lungiswa Gqunta & Thulile Gamedze (South Africa), Yasmin Jahan Nupur (Bangladesh), Donna Kukama (South Africa), Himali Singh Soin (India), Fazal Rizvi (Pakistan), Shilpa Gupta (India), Hassan Meer (Oman), Debbie Symons (Australia), Syowia Kyambi (Kenya), MAHI-Maritime Archaeology And Heritage and Veera Rustomji (Pakistan), among others, as well as thinkers and writers such as Nada Raza (Pakistan/UK), Stephen Muecke (Australia), Sama Issa (Oman), Sneha Ragavan ( India), Meg Samuelson (Australia), Jyoti Dhar (Sri Lanka), Thanom Chapakdee (Thailand).

Created as a residency and publication, From the Indian Ocean aims to fill a gap in contemporary art across the Indian Ocean in the well-researched theme of cultural exchange in oceans such as the Pacific or the Atlantic. We aim to deepen the discourse and understanding of how the ocean functions as a center of aesthetic and conceptual transnationalism and experimentation, closely linked to oceanic thinking and the current ecological and environmental crisis. This project thus brings together theoretical and visual essays by artists, curators, scholars and thinkers who critically engage with the Indian Ocean as a series of interconnected places; as a natural and cultural site that expands our imagination and contributes to the emergence of a new perspective on the correlations between art, ecology and identity.

INHALE, EXHALE (self breathing kit)
2020, Full HD Video on Led Wall 3m57s, 200x100cm
Installation view at Travessa da Ermida, Lisbon
Curatorial Text: Borbála Soós

Visual and Digital Arts – Cascais School of Arts & Design.
You are the course director, as well as one of those who designed the course.
What are the particularities of the students that reinforce and justify in you this mentoring role?

Designing a course related to new media in contemporary art was undoubtedly something extremely stimulating. We tried to develop an organic course that unites a strong theoretical and research component with fieldwork, production and exhibition methodologies. Numerous curators and artists are invited to collaborate, creating an organic structure of work for new thinking about art production in a post-internet age. It is extremely stimulating all the interaction with the group creating a core of thinking and joint discussion in a very horizontal format between students and faculty, and I receive a lot in return, it is a super instigating exchange because we end up creating an osmosis of academic thinking, research and artistic practices together.

Is there a medium that you haven’t worked with yet that you really want to try?

Particularly I don’t think I have been experimenting with numerous mediums throughout the process of research and creation because I can’t focus on just one specific medium. I never intended to have technical virtuosity in a specific medium, but to use the various possible tools to create a dialogue between the themes that concern me or about which I like to research and the receiver. Perhaps working on another scale at the image level, closer to the cinema that requires another type of investment and production could be an interesting challenge and one that makes some sense for the body of work.

 

Which medium do you like to work with the most?

My work always starts from an essentially pictorial place, initially I did it through painting, however I realized that when approaching themes related to certain ecosystems and natural scenarios it wouldn’t make much sense to be closed in a studio in the process of representation, but rather to be in the field and mostly in dialogue with these places to work with and not on them, giving them their place of speech. Thus, the camera ended up replacing brushes, and image and video ended up being a media with which I feel quite comfortable. It was decisive after a long period connected to painting to research and work on the NASA archive and work with cameras and satellites and images that put me in a place of questioning that really representation was not enough. On the other hand, I take enormous pleasure in working with organic matter, with soil, plants, and I discovered an enormous fascination for glass production, the whole process is super intense, magmatic, immediate and intuitive which are components that attract me greatly.

 

Is there a space or setting (dream place) where you would like to hold an exhibition?

No doubt there are several and they are the ones that many know as temples of reference, however more than that I feel like working more immensely in other continents than Europe, with other places of speech than a westernized vision regarding contemporary art, its production, canons and rules dictated by a certain market and point of view.

Olokun
2021, Installation view at Uma Lulik_, Lisbon
Curatorial Text: Borbála Soós

How to describe a typical Paulo Arraiano day? (Are there any typical days?)

Definitely not. Although after the pandemic I stayed longer in the same place for obvious reasons I ended up alternating between studio work and research and travel, field work and exhibition. I’m not one to stay at home or locked up in a studio for too long, I need input a lot and enjoy working in teams and creating dialogue. The travel component is essential to me as a human being and to my whole body of work and research, so it makes the idea of the -typical day- a little absent.

Paulo Arraiano at his atelier, in Juzo Village, Cascais.