Pedro Calapez, Blocs, 2012, installation variable size, acrylic on ceramics
On colour and shape - If all artwork depends on how the artist uses materials to challenge an observer, colour takes a special importance. Painting constantly forces the artist to make choices, acts of acceptance or refusal. Rejecting previous lines of work, rethinking tradition and what was done before is always present. The gesture is manifesting itself in the way the paint drips, but other factors such as the fluidity and colours, juxtaposition or the form and fragmentation of the support and its display are also crucial.
My work has to do with the gaze, how you stare, how you understand the time the eye takes to scrutinize a surface filled with lines and colours. It has to do with memory and traditions of procedures, it tries to understand the surrounding space and what constitutes that space and its interaction with a spectator. It has to do with distance and proximity, fragmentation and re-composition, the relationship of detail with the whole. It deals with the autonomy of the gesture, with the way the hand acts, with the physical act of making a painting, with the smooth and the textured, with the empty and the full and with the equilibrium and the instability. My work has to do with identification and with the capacity of discovery; it continually questions the representation of reality.
Fragmentation is one of the practices I follow. It is a way to discuss detail and the whole. To reconnect the fragments also reveals productive procedures. Very strong colours alternated with smooth and mysterious transitions demands the gaze of the viewer to move continuously in different directions. Observing the panels as a detail or seeing them integrated in a group also reveal different aspects of the work
Another recent trend in my work has to do with the limits of the support. Traditionally the support is canvas, rectangular strong cloth stretched over a wooden structure. But the painting may have a non-uniform structure. The four traditional borderlines can be distorted in different ways: deforming edges, mixing surfaces in different depths, or even fragmenting the support and experimenting with materials. Of course, great care and thought on how paint flows and reacts to these deformations has to be taken.
A more challenging situation is the association of supports of contrasting shapes and their grouping. Notions as stability and continuity of form are questioned. Colours function then as the magnetic tension that group the different shapes. When painting a colour, another can be superimposed over the first one or settle next to it. Building the painting palm by palm is an attempt to foresee results in the progressive filling of the colour and does not follow a pattern. I just as much start at the top as at the bottom or from left to right or I paint group by group of adjacent panels, opposing colour patches within the total surface of the set. Placing a colour next to another produces a scale of interactions, a scale of relationship between them, a scale of correspondence with my gaze. I am dealing with a concrete problem: to put colours, forms and volumes to function. What visual dimension might a set of colours limited by their surfaces take further on in the eyes of the viewer?
The place of communication and contemplation shifts. Images continue to exist beyond what they may illustrate. They establish a world with a vitality of its own in which discussion of reality is a lesser issue. How does one find what exists between each one of these outlines? Are they made up of the pigment? How do we understand what is beyond what is represented? I cannot help getting so close to the surface that everything gets out of focus. Pedro Calapez
Pedro Calapez lives and works in Lisbon, Portugal