In the realm of the current contemporary art practices, there are many stimulating artists with significant contributions. Paulo Arraiano (b.1977) is certainly one of them; his art entails an anthropocentric dimension that delineates his body of work and usually mirrors the relationship between the human body and the outer space. Whether it is a sculptural work or a painting, Arraiano’s artistic language seems to create a visual balance echoing imaginative arrangements.
Words: Yannis Kostarias
His latest body of artwork concentrates on dark paintings with impressive abstract depictions of numerous layers of blackish hues that create a strong sense of depth. The While Satellites Dance painting series also evoke a meaningful dialogue with time and space; their visual depiction reflect images sent by satellites. The artist is triggered by the powerful influence of advanced technology on human reality. In a parallelism that highlights Arraiano’s great inspiration, the satellites’ movement in space can be associated with the eternal flow of the human’s existence in time and space. Moreover, the artist’s vocabulary derives digital characteristics from his attachment to the satellites whose operation is controlled by electronic-based systems.
At another level, the human reality -even today- is determined by the perception created by the new media-dominated framework we live in. Nonetheless, Arraiano pays serious attention to the engagement with the natural world, which he still feels to be his chief inspiration, in order to render evocative ebony iconographies, such as the Probably will loose Wifi while looking at you or Usually it’s just a matter of focus.
Paulo Arraiano lives and works in Cascais- Lisbon, Portugal. He has exhibited his artwork around the world from Rio de Janeiro to London, Stockholm Paris and Zurich, while his works also appear in important public collections, such as the CAC Malaga Collection in Spain, the Luciano Benneton Collection in Italy and many other around the globe.
Here is our conversation with this talented Portuguese emerging artist, who comments on his creativity, while revealing a few personal moments from his daily reality.
ArtVerge: Can you tell us about the process of making your work?
Paulo Arraiano: There is always a present dialogue between a matter/non-matter dialogue in my work, the physical part of the process is almost as important and the non-physical. Research and space are as important as the action.
Since we interact through analogic and electronic signals, guided by information that travels throughout artificial satellites (Orbit bodies), part of a continuous accelerated generation of “scrolls and swipes”, the coexistence of both organic and digital aspects are reflected and part of my process and research.
I use different medias from painting to installation, digital content or video, although painting has a strong presence in my body of work where body movement creates images very similar to satellite views, reflecting a direct relation between body-landscape which is only possible or understandable today, while captured by digital satellite imagery.
The studio process can be quite intense since it’s very physical. The work is based on a gestural abstraction process. Movement and gesture are a very important part of the process, but also intuition and error and, the drying process, where a lot of things can sometimes come to life.
How would you define your work in few words (ideally in 3 words)?
Space – Body – Matter
Can you name any artists you, lately or generally, take inspiration from?
I personally get more influence and inspiration from things that are not art world related. Besides influence or… major references, there are a lot of young generation artists that I really connect with and that are doing a lot of interesting work in the contemporary scenario like Konrad Wyrebek, David Ostrowski, Kristian Touborg, Patric Sandri, Annabelle Arlie, Fredrik Akum, Pelles Empire, Simone Zaccagnini, Evan Robarts, Michaell Bennet, Gioia Di Girolamo, Arcangelo Sassolino, Tulio Pinto, Zane Lewis, Asger Dybvad Larsen, Alice Rionchi, Cornelia Baltes and many others.
When was the latest video you watched on social media and had an impact on your mood? Which one?
Well… Regarding Social Media I tend to use it very work-oriented and don’t get lost in the way. But… there was this video from Kate Tempest in BBC witch really had an impact on me because of lyrics and attitude. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kMpVmXSSYzQ) (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JgQiT8mVSdQ)
Creating a new painting is a solitary process. If this applies to you, when you concentrate on a new artwork does it affect your social life at all?
Studio work is most of the times very introspective, solitary and if there are many projects, traveling or exhibitions at the same time can be very intense and demanding although I always try to compensate it with being connected to people that really mean something and stay in contact with nature a lot to balance everything.
How do you know when a painting is finished?
Since the process takes place during a short period where the action takes place, It has to finish at that particular moment before the paint dries too much, otherwise, gets destroyed. Beside really small retouches I never go over them again.
What about the place where you work? What’s your studio space like, and how does it affect your process?
I recently moved to a new studio. A warehouse studio in Guincho, a beach area near Lisbon. I have plenty of space to work on bigger works and storage and I’m near the beach and mountains and 20 minutes from the city centre, which gives me a lot of space to breathe and work.
Which exhibition did you visit last?
Since Last month happened the ARCO Artfair in Lisbon there were a lot of openings and exhibitions, the last ones were at Hawaii-Lisbon, Múrias Centeno, and Francisco Fino.
What does your mum think about your art?
Unfortunately, she had already passed away, but since she was a writer and very connected to art so she was very supportive and inspirational.
Are you a morning person or a night owl?
I always prefer the mornings to work. I prefer evenings to switch of and do other things.
Is the glass half empty or half full?
Which are your plans for the near future?
I just took part of a few exhibitions last month (Petra Gut Contemporary, Zurich; Aeroplastics Contemporary, Brussels and TAL Gallery, Lisbon). So now I will go on studio mode and work for upcoming group shows like in QG – Centre d’art Contemporain in Switzerland and Palazzo Ca’ Zanardi, Venice during the Biannale.