PAULO CANILHAS was born on 29th July 1969. in Almada, Portugal.
He finished Advanced Course in Visual Arts, AR.CO – Center of Art and Visual Communication.
Attended several courses related to visual arts.
Paulo worked one year in an Artistic Residence in the studio of the sculptor António Júlio and, later, one year as a Curator’s Assistant in a gallery of Lisbon.
His practice primarily focuses on painting and installations. Drawing and sculpture with aluminum – the preferred material for working in three dimensions, also feature in his body of work. Building objects, using hands, tools, and primary materials are an intrinsic part of his works.
In addition to the absolutely decisive contribution made by AR.CO – Center for Art and Visual Communication, the “All-Around” exhibition (Loures, 2015) is a positive turning point in the way it has influenced and structured his creative process and the execution of the projects that followed.
I am concerned about the relationship between individual’s and society.
It is in this context that I exist.
With some beaten path, I allow myself to observe in several directions, for a recent past or for the future still absent, where is what I am looking for, what has not yet happened. When I take a look at the past, I identify the social and personal nuances that have occurred and their direct influence on my work, and then, with anxiety, look for what comes next. In this process, I distance myself, criticize and try to evolve. Looking for more. Ever.
I am not a painter, I am not a sculptor, much less a photographer or director, but I am a little bit of everyone, I don’t have a favourite area and this allows me to navigate as free as we all should be. I will not achieve perfection in either of these areas, I am as sure of that as I am sure of knowing that this is not what I am looking for, but I will do a lot in both, I will challenge myself a lot, I will provoke a lot … as I always try to do.
With my work, I try to establish a contact between my reality and that of those who dedicate a few minutes of observation, and I look, of course, for the vanishing point that gives me the perspective of a differentiating dialogue for my artistic production.
In this society, the one I observe, super productive, is it still possible to be differentiating? … that’s the fuel that moves me!
Hello Paulo! In one of your interviews, you say you always work multiple pieces at the same time, and cannot do one piece at a time. Could you tell us more about that? And are the artworks you are working at the same time connected in any way?
Paulo: Yes, it is a fact, I prefer to always work in groups of pieces simultaneously. Let’s assume, hypothetically, that I arrive at the studio and only have one canvas, so that day I won’t go to work because I have to get a second one, like the other, and then I can start work. I don’t know why or how I acquired this habit but, I know it is my reality I know that I like to pass information from one work to the other in generous exchange of secrets, gestures, and feelings. And it doesn’t just happen in painting, also with aluminum pieces or other three-dimensional works in production. If in the studio I add two lamps, two metal bars or two similar boards, then I have work to do. The exception to this process is in the installations, these are individual, although, often, it is the multiplicity of a specific object that awakens creativity and promotes the creation of some of them.
Where did the inspiration for aluminum plates artworks come from?
Paulo: As a visual artist, I had always worked with many materials and objects that, in some way, aroused my interest, whether for the color, the texture, or the plasticity they had and allowed me to explore. Aluminum is one of those materials. At some distant moment, he entered my studio and never left. So, this material has always been part, in detail or by itself, of my work. It started to be material for small assemblages that I used to do on canvas, then gained more and more expression, covering more and more area in the works until he ended up ‘suffocating’ the painting and leaving only the aluminum. This process resulted in a long period away from painting and colors working exclusively on aluminum. Currently, there is a nice balance between painting and aluminum work.
What inspired you to pursue art? And when was there a pivotal moment when you decided to follow your path as an artist?
Paulo: This answer is commonplace, but there is no other way of saying, since very early that I felt the attraction for drawing, for handicrafts, I discovered that it was in this area that I felt more at ease and I started giving strength to this path. The praise and comments in times of school were also important and at the end of high school, I was already taking the activity very seriously, not stopping until today.
Who are a few artists/people that really inspire you right now, and why?
Paulo: More than mentioning a few names, I am inspired by people who innovate, who differentiate themselves through work.
What is a day of working like in your home-studio? Do you have any rituals that help you get motivated or in “the zone”?
Paulo: I am not a very regular artist when it comes to routines. I work a lot, but I don’t have a very regular routine. I really enjoy working from mid-afternoon onwards, and onwards, read on, into the dawn, but it also happens to me that I enjoy good times in the studio during morning periods. But if I had to feature a typical schedule, I would say that between 5 pm and 4 am this is my favorite period of work. and in this space of time, it is at night that the best things happen. Even if I work all day, it is invariably at night that things take shape.
I don’t know if I can call it a ritual but, I like to be sitting in the center of my studio, listening to music and looking at the bases of the next works, creating the (mental) image of what I intend to do and, then, go for the canvas and … realizing that everything came out differently from what I had imagined, this is where I am surprised and satisfied with this activity.
And, let’s not forget the necessary work on the computer, organizing the exhibitions, working on my website and social networks, or preparing photos of the work to send to galleries, clients or, like in this case, to you, for this interview. There is always much work to do, all day at any hour.
Do you have a real-life situation that inspired your artwork? If yes, what was it?
Paulo: My work, rightly or wrongly, always arises from situations linked to my life and my personal experiences, something that I try to counter a little, I confess, but, art is a reflection of the artist (again, rightly or wrongly), a reflection of his personality, of what he is, I think there is no escape from this reality, otherwise, art would have no substance would not be supported in any base that supports it and then we would be talking about something that was merely decorative, accessory, that’s not what I’m looking for. Now, it is important for the artist to try to leave his post as creator/performer and try to deconstruct his rhetoric and grasp the real individual situations that support him, starting for something more, say, collective and inclusive, thus making his works, not an individual discourse, but an expression that can be adopted and used by an entire community that observes it.
What is the work you’ve done that you’re the most excited about?
Paulo: I wouldn’t you choose a particular work but one or two exhibitions, and why? … because the exhibition as a whole is also seen by me as an artistic installation, that is, the appreciation of the exhibition itself counts for me as the appreciation of one of the works present in it, therefore, the exhibition “All around “At the Vieira da Silva gallery in Loures and the exhibition” Lastro “at the Ogiva Gallery, in Óbidos, are two exceptional exhibitions on my career til now.
But, to answer at your specific question, from these exhibitions I would isolate work from each one as something that convinced and enriched my CV, in Loures the work “Trying to find a way” and in Óbidos the piece “self-portrait”.
What’s the most challenging part of your artistic process? And how do you overcome it?
Paulo: The change of topic. Although it is a natural process, without impositions of time or any other kind, leaving behind what I’ve been done and changing the chip to a new approach/theme is always a challenging, remarkable, and highly rewarding moment. Starting a new theme is like someone who starts a new phase of life. Like in life, the change, the challenge, and hoping for something good are equivalent to the creative process.
Without being in a hurry to change, knowing that this will happen later, gives me the energy to continue.
How has your style changed or evolved over the years?
Paulo: Naturally, it changed over time, with my age with the accumulated experience. If at first, I clung to the wise and old icons of currents such as cubism and surrealism, over time and with maturity these connections were broken and gave way to something that I consider more personal. Just as our body changes with aging, our perception of things and the way we want to tell a story them also changes. It is a natural process.
Do you ever experience creative blocks? And if yes, how do you overcome it?
Paulo: No, I never had that concern. I never really felt them. It has already happened to me that I had long periods without going to the studio, but I did not consider them to be a block, not least because the ideas kept coming up.
What are you working on right now, and what are your plans for the future?
Paulo: I am currently developing a series of work around the concept of “Time”. The “How many ways do you have to count the time” collection will consist of a series of painting and installation works that will live on a revisit of materials collected over the years and that I, in some way, consider as anchors of past memories and modular of what I am. These pieces will be someway liberating in some cases and nostalgic in others. Liberating in the sense that they serve in somehow to free me from old ghosts but also nostalgic because, when we look at the path traveled, and see what time has left us, marks and objects that help us not to lose track of time, we feel the attachment and the desire to touch them, smell them, sometimes observe them with affection. They are visible marks of a journey we made, they are our story in a touchable version, and this is the motto of the work that I am currently developing.
For the future? … I want health and the possibility of being able to continue working … that’s all …
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