How would you define the project that you undertook for TruckArtProject?
It’s untitled. I used lacquer on metal. I might describe it as a landscape over another landscape. The work poses several questions, but the main one was to reinforce the idea of an artistic object as a commercial medium. It’s something like defining a character that you know beforehand is going to be moving in a very changing scenario. I used two images I photographed in Cuba several months ago, where advertising billboards play a very different role than they do here. But the important thing isn’t the context where the photos were taken, but rather the symbolism and harmony of the advertising in the landscape. Trucks are a symbol of capitalism, of merchandise; that interested me, and I worked with this series of concepts that revolve around the object itself and its function within our reality. I didn’t want to use the truck as a canvas for a work that could be in any other place; I wanted to reinforce the most basic elements I was working with: truck, landscape, drawing, and advertising.
In your case, how do the two sides of the truck work together?
The two sides are opposed to each other. That disposition is very important in this piece, because I painted the back part of two advertising billboards. The image that should be seen on the billboards is cancelled out, and at the same time, the same thing happens with the image seen on the truck. There is no image, there is no apparent message, no subject. Working with the idea of a “medium over medium”, what emerges is a double negation of the image. The media are empty, but that doesn’t mean that the work is.
What are the challenges of the project for you?
As I mentioned, my intention was to question the most basic elements at my disposal. I didn’t want to leave out a series of materials and symbols that were self-evident. You can’t approach painting on a truck as you would painting on a canvas or on paper, at least not in my view. It was impossible for me to get the truck itself out of my head: I couldn’t leave out its functions, its size, or its shape. Creating a piece with these materials was the really interesting thing.
How does this project fit into your trajectory and your discourse?
I think I see it as one of the clearest ways of understanding the “sculpture” part of my work, or the work of all artists that work on walls and all types of public buildings. I’ve always wanted to foster this tridimensional or “walkable” aspect of many of the works I’ve done, and I don’t think I’ve ever approached it with such clarity. From now on I may start investigating that aspect more.
Some artists admit that they came in with a pre-existing idea that they had to modify, or that grew in other directions when faced with a canvas like this one. Was that the case for you?
Not really. For me, the process of conceptualizing the piece was more important than executing it. From the moment I started working on the idea, I knew that I had to produce it clearly, so that it didn’t become confused. My creative process is more about getting my ideas clear and discarding options before picking up a paint brush, although there are times when you have to improvise and enjoy the moment. But I usually have things quite clear when I get to work on a project. I think that comes from working on gigantic formats. When you’re used to doing 30-meter murals, you have to start with very clear ideas. This dynamic naturally influenced my way of conceiving the creative process.
How did you approach the reception of a work like this, in which the spectator comes across it instead of seeking it out, and which doesn’t “circulate” through the usual art channels?
The way the piece is received is implicit in the approach to it. It’s not a work that is formally designed to grab attention using color or shapes similar to the language of advertising. You have to stop to see it. It’s not meant to be fleeting, although it can be taken in with a single glance. The fact that it doesn’t circulate through the usual art channels isn’t new to me. I usually work in places and mediums that are far from the more orthodox circuit, even though they are later seen in Internet publications.
What about the fleeting nature with which it’s received?
That’s another important issue for me, but not just in this work. All of my work is based on opposition to transience. I try to let the audience come to it through curiosity, and not base my work on the aesthetic and conceptual rules of graffiti or so-called street art, where you usually see simple, eye-catching shapes and colors that entice the eye. My intention is to eliminate those aesthetic clichés. That’s why I use austere drawing without any type of expressive gesture. Honestly, I’m not interested in any type of formal issue regarding painting or drawing, or the search for personality or style in plastic art: I’m interested in taking these languages to places and media where they shouldn’t be.
How did you approach the scale? Were you used to it?
Given the scale I usually work in, it wasn’t a problem at all. In fact, it was quite comfortable and approachable. The shape of the truck itself was more important.
What does this type of project offer you, and what do you think you bring to the project?
It offers me a new way of understanding the canvas as the foundation of the work. Working on a wall, a truck, or a sidewalk is very different than working on conventional canvases, whether paintings, videos, or installations, which are always aimed at a select audience that moves in circuits pre-established by the market. To me, the real value of the work that a lot of artists do on the street is precisely this: you can use an apparently classic or “academic” pictorial language, but our intention is not at all classic or academic.
Why is a project like TruckArtProject interesting?
In my opinion, it raises several interesting questions, mainly the fact of gathering many artists from diverse disciplines facing a complex canvas. In terms of curatorship, I think it’s a different offering that steers away from the classic collective exhibition based on a concept. I think the opposite happens here: the ideas and discourses are very different from each other and the guiding thread is the object itself. The individual way of confronting it is what’s really interesting.