This is 5 Questions. Each week, we send five questions to an artist featured in Under the Radar, our weekly email highlighting the best art on the ArtSlant network. This week we seek answers from Pedro Amaro.
What are you trying to communicate with your work?
I have always been quite introverted, so communication is not so much what I aim for. What I remember from my childhood is trying to draw things I came across in books or on television. I did not have any knowledge, I just enjoyed doing it. Once in high school I got to know theories about composition, color, and dynamics. At that time I also started to read my first art history books by myself. And during my architecture course in university I used art as a way to forget the stiffness of traditional architectural representations.
With that said, art always has worked as something I do for myself, to understand how my mind works and how to follow an instinct or idea. In my early twenties I even started to get worried about that topic. Everybody is talking about the social role of an artist or art as an eye-opener.
Today, as a painter I still cannot think in those terms. Communicating anything but vague impressions through an image is something highly complex for several reasons. In our culture and education, we do not have enough common iconographic or iconological vocabulary. That seems to possibly lead to misunderstandings when an artist, curator or historian tries to describe an artistic piece. At some point, one has to be helped by something external in order to understand a painting. For instance, very frequently, literature provides cultural foundations without which a painting scene could not be understood. Painting by itself has very low capacity of communicating.
Fluorescent, 2018, Collage and ink
What is an artist’s responsibility?
I’ll follow the line of thought that the first question gave me. The responsibility of an artist can only be to open peoples’ minds to different expressions and imagery. I like, in particular, to explore different ways of organizing ideas in my head, reflecting them in my compositions.
For example, it seems to me that the standard way to create a project, artistic or not, is by focusing on a specific objective or concept and every step should orbit around that main idea. The more the small gestures are connected with that main point the more successful the project is. It may be hard to move away from this.
The collage technique allows me to constantly disrupt that logic and explore different thinking models. Destroying the unity of an artwork can mess with the linearity of one's thinking, for example by rearranging a painting’s elements. Fragments of different ideas from different paintings can be put together in different orders suggesting totally new shapes. It is like a surrealistic process.
Holes in a bunker, 2018, Collage and ink on paper
Show us the greatest thing you ever made (art or not)?
My life is still too much of a mess to decide which one was the greatest. It depends on how everything is going to end up.
Tell us about a work you want to make but never will:
All my plans always come up while I am working. That means those plans always fit into what I am doing and what I can do. Being a collagist, there are no “unrealistic plans”: I am constantly attached to the circumstances of my studio (the unfinished artworks I have around me, the types of paper I have available and so on). I think the conflict between expectation and reality happens much more often when we sit down with all the materials needed. The body relaxes too much and the mind takes control. That is when the unrealistic plans start to come in. I do not let that happen because my work is not really a concretization of an idea; it is rather a rearrangement of things I search for and find around me.
Demonstration Steel Structure Hand, 2017, Collage, acrylic paint and ink on paper
Who are three artists we should know but probably don’t?
Some established and famous artists have had an impact on me. However, when I am working I am more influenced by moods or characters. I often embody a craftsman or carpenter who shows respect and understanding for the materials in every inch of his work. Sometimes I imagine I am the know-it-all, thinking my way is the only good way. Sometimes I choose the teenage rebel way, ignoring any rule just because. Sometimes I try to picture the reactions of my old architecture teachers behind my work, demanding a logical reason for everything. Being in touch and observing different personalities is for me the most inspiring thing.
—The ArtSlant Team
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(Image at top: Theather Lumière, 2018, Collage, acrylic paint and ink on paper)