Fabricio Lopez interviewed by Cláudio Mubarac

Published in the Valon­go exhi­bi­ti­on cata­lo­gue, Esta­ção Pina­co­te­ca, 2009.

Tell us about your trai­ning, by whi­ch I mean trai­ning in the bro­a­dest pos­si­ble sen­se and not just academic.

The ima­ge comes to me of when I was about 11 years old and we would go fishing for crab on the bea­ch, using a puçá, a kind of net and cage with a cer­tain spe­ci­al bait. The youn­gest of the group, by free and spon­ta­ne­ous phy­si­cal con­vin­cing by the elders, in this case me and other pri­zewin­ners, had to go to the poul­try farm and fet­ch chic­ken guts. Some­ti­mes we got lucky and just had to stick our arm in a tin full of scraps, or when the tin was empty, the only way was to stick our hand insi­de the recen­tly slaugh­te­red chic­ken. All this rite was worth every crab caught on the bea­ch, in the days after a storm tide, grey days that would end at a fri­end’s hou­se with a full pot. For me, trai­ning in a more inte­gral sen­se is lin­ked to this con­text, the bea­ch city, the inten­se rea­ding of all and any kind of comic book, soli­tary hours of drawing, and the pro­duc­ti­on of my own stories.

Sin­ce I was a child, I had a deep inte­rest in drawing, and I lear­ned to sus­tain a tas­te for the cre­a­ted ima­ge, for a cer­tain magic in seeing something exist from a desi­re. In ado­les­cen­ce I deci­ded, I think intui­ti­vely, that I wan­ted to be an artist, to work with plas­tic arts, even without knowing exac­tly what this impli­ed. I star­ted to paint and I went ahe­ad, gras­ping every chan­ce to show what I was doing, whether it was pro­du­cing comics for fri­ends’ fan­zi­nes, or pain­ting murals at fashi­on fairs. Paral­lel to drawing and pain­ting, the­re was sport. Things like kara­te and foot­ball on the bea­ch on Fri­day after­no­ons after scho­ol. It may sound silly, but they had a gre­at effect on the ges­tu­re, the gaze, whi­ch in a sub­tle way I see appli­ed in my work today.

Befo­re studying Fine Arts, I did two years of Soci­al Com­mu­ni­ca­ti­on, whi­ch ser­ved to bro­a­den my reper­toi­re of cine­ma and the­a­ter. It also pro­vi­ded me with a gre­at expe­ri­en­ce in the pro­duc­ti­on of sets for per­for­man­ces of the Radio and TV cour­se, whi­ch some time later would lead to jobs, rich lear­ning expe­ri­en­ces in the­a­ter with the direc­tor Wolf­gang Pan­nek, the sta­ging of Apo­ca­lip­se with Tea­tro da Ver­ti­gem and in tele­vi­si­on, wor­king in the spe­ci­al effects depart­ment of TV Cultura.

After finishing what I ima­gi­ned as a peri­od of lear­ning and strengthe­ning of fri­endships that remain to this day, I inter­rup­ted the cour­se and enrol­led at FAAP. It was a time of tran­si­ti­on in the ins­ti­tu­ti­on. Befo­re, what was a Foun­da­ti­on with no gates and free cir­cu­la­ti­on, was slo­wly acqui­ring an aus­te­re air with gra­ni­te stair­ca­ses, gil­ded han­drails and incre­a­sing tui­ti­on fees. The­re, I con­que­red what I would need to base my rela­ti­onship with artis­tic pro­duc­ti­on: the kno­wled­ge and trust (very impor­tant!) trans­mit­ted by some good tea­chers, and the fri­endships with whom shor­tly afterwards I would cre­a­te the Espa­ço Coringa.

This group was strengthe­ned by the desi­re to mate­ri­a­li­se a set of auto­no­mous ins­tan­ces of pro­duc­ti­on and dif­fu­si­on in the visu­al arts. Our immer­si­ons in San­tos, whe­re my family had an unfi­nished buil­ding on a plot of land on the edge of a hill, were unfor­get­ta­ble. We would spend three months sys­te­ma­ti­cally going to this pla­ce, wee­ding, wiring the elec­trics, pro­du­cing the works for the exhi­bi­ti­ons, and drum­ming. We had an oasis that for­med the basis of a col­lec­ti­ve expe­ri­en­ce that las­ted 10 years. The group was for­med by Ander­son Rei, André Tran­qui­li­ni, Chi­co Lina­res, Dani­el Man­zi­o­ne, Gui­lher­me Wer­ner, Matheus Gia­va­rot­ti, Rogé­rio Naga­o­ka, Suiá Fer­lau­to and myself. When we held the first Espa­ço Corin­ga, we invi­ted pro­fes­sor Evan­dro Car­los Jar­dim and, ama­zin­gly, he accep­ted! He went to San­tos on a cloudy day to see the work of all the artists and spe­ak to about 30 peo­ple under a tarp stret­ched over a slab. Cer­tainly, that act of faith struc­tu­red a who­le thought about the futu­re of the ini­ti­a­ti­ve, and made something power­ful ger­mi­na­te in tho­se twenty year olds that is with us to this day: tra­di­ti­on as a trans­mis­si­on of vital energy.

I am sure that this ini­ti­a­ti­ve and the time together with my fri­ends for­med a very strong bal­last, a kno­wled­ge built from a col­lec­ti­vity that I see over­flowing in everything I par­ti­ci­pa­te in, in the family and in other works.

In the same vein, whe­re does Valon­go begin for you?

Today, Valon­go repre­sents the most fer­ti­le soil in the city of San­tos. It is a pla­ce with an incre­di­ble tel­lu­ric for­ce, facing the Estu­ary and the Ser­ra do Mar. It was whe­re the city began, and whe­re it remai­ned for more than a cen­tury befo­re expan­ding to other are­as and along the water­front. The desi­re to set­tle the­re and make work has been in my note­bo­oks sin­ce I rode my bike through Por­to and the outs­kirts of the his­to­ric cen­tre betwe­en 1999 and 2003.

I don’t have a small radio in my stu­dio, I don’t know exac­tly why. I didn’t bring music the­re and I ended up get­ting used to the silen­ce. One day without tal­king, lis­te­ning to the bre­athing of the port, the time mar­ked by the chur­ch and the blowing of the ship’s horn, a pene­tra­ting sound that starts far away and rea­ches deep down, pro­du­cing a sen­sa­ti­on of well-being, a kind of sound that points to a destination.

Why and how is wood­cut prin­ting for you a pri­vi­le­ged pro­cess and pla­ce to work?

The­re is the phy­si­cal impact of the cons­truc­ti­on of the drawing and a dif­fe­rent time from that of pain­ting, for exam­ple. Some­ti­mes I think that I have made a migra­tory move­ment from pain­ting to wood – becau­se, for me, the pla­ce of wood­cut prin­ting is the wood – it seems redun­dant, but it is what exci­tes me, as much as the color. Now, when I think about the cons­truc­ti­on of the matrix, the anno­ta­ti­ons with drawing on the wood and the cut­ting of the sur­fa­ce, I get even more exci­ted! The matrix is a visu­al game. The explo­ra­ti­on of the drawing hap­pens in seve­ral ways, in asso­ci­a­ti­on with mul­ti­ple refe­ren­ces. The matrix allows the drawing to live seve­ral lives on seve­ral landscapes.

Does the rela­ti­onship with sca­le occur by neces­sity of the exten­ded ges­tu­re or by subs­ti­tu­ti­on, whe­re perhaps other pro­ce­du­res would fit? Or are both issu­es related?

By neces­sity and by subs­ti­tu­ti­on. The rela­ti­onship with sca­le in wood­cut prin­ting was also intui­ti­ve, a habit I brought from my pain­tings. I remem­ber that the first wood­cut in who­le plywo­od was in “Ação na Pagú” (1), in one of the cells that we trans­for­med into a stu­dio. I also remem­ber that the prin­ting was blo­ody. Inking with very small rolls, that bro­ke all the time, with the typi­cal heat. On this occa­si­on, me, Ulys­ses and Capi (2) wor­ked together.

When I go to the stu­dio, I like to think that the­se wood­cuts could only be made in that room, in the stu­dio in San­tos. I can test them side by side and step back, go through the ima­ges, find the pat­tern. I always think about Amyr Klink’s cros­sing. For me, a nau­ti­cal per­for­man­ce on a glo­bal sca­le, whe­re the issu­es were also rela­ted to a life pro­ject. Desire/technique. The sca­le is, also, the time of an acti­on that unfolds on a sur­fa­ce. Every time I start a print, I regret it, but in a few seconds the fee­ling is one of urgency and the will to get somewhe­re; as if the paper stret­ched over the wood were my Atlan­tic oce­an to be cros­sed, an arc of phy­si­cal dis­pla­ce­ment sub­ject to the atmosphe­re. When I pre­pa­re the she­et of paper, I like to think of the sail of the boat. A sail that will be printed.

How impor­tant are the citi­es you inha­bit and their flows in esta­blishing work?

I would like to take this oppor­tu­nity to con­fess a wish. A desi­re for the civi­lity of com­mu­ni­on with a pla­ce. City cen­tres should have as their exclu­si­ve voca­ti­on the coe­xis­ten­ce betwe­en peo­ple, and here I do not exclu­de com­mer­ci­al rela­ti­ons, but I beli­e­ve that we should reco­ver the most basic and memo­ri­al mea­nings of what it is to inha­bit. I cle­arly see a voca­ti­on for the neigh­borho­od of Valon­go: workshops of all kinds, spa­ces for cir­cu­la­ti­on, coe­xis­ten­ce and exchan­ge. Basic things, like a com­mu­nity vege­ta­ble gar­den. The neigh­borho­od doesn’t need a Péle Museum, but seve­ral exhi­bi­ti­on spa­ces, stu­di­os for the cre­a­ti­on of the most diver­se sour­ces of kno­wled­ge. I say this for very sim­ple rea­sons: I can’t see a bet­ter pla­ce to work. Even though I swe­at like never befo­re to print a lit­tle pie­ce of paper, it was whe­re I cho­se to set up “a pla­ce”, an envi­ron­ment sur­roun­ded by sti­mu­li, ima­gi­ning it as a coral that fil­ters, returns a flow of water and is porous. For now, one of the very posi­ti­ve aspects is the fact that it is the overs­to­rey of a small buil­ding whe­re a few fami­li­es live. On the ground flo­or the­re is an incre­di­ble cof­fee shed erec­ted with bea­ch sand, sto­ne and wha­le oil. It’s a real work of art!

Tell us a lit­tle about cut­ting as a mea­su­red ges­tu­re and/or as a mea­su­re of ges­tu­ring, as a unit of drawing.

I beli­e­ve I like to ope­ra­te with both: cut­ting design and the acti­on of direct car­ving. The first car­ri­es the ges­tu­re mea­su­red from a struc­tu­ring mesh, a drawing, a mark; the ges­tu­re and the car­ving meet alre­ady exis­ting infor­ma­ti­on. The direct car­ving is the pri­mal ges­tu­re, in the sen­se that it is part of a design that will con­fi­gu­re itself. And each acti­on brings the mea­su­re of this ges­tu­re, whi­ch is cor­po­ral. The ten­si­on to cons­truct a line on this sca­le demands this bodily play, in what, for me, is cons­ti­tu­ted as a cor­po­re­al fight on the ground level, whe­re the turn takes pla­ce around the matrix and the line is cons­truc­ted in vari­ous direc­ti­ons. One thing I always remem­ber, when cons­truc­ting a cer­tain area on the matrix, is a ques­ti­on rela­ted to what I heard from Evan­dro Car­los Jar­dim about the mecha­ni­za­ti­on of the ges­tu­re: it seems to me a dou­ble game, whe­re sim­ply being “task-wor­ker” leads the drawing to death by asphy­xi­a­ti­on, reve­a­ling a “sta­tic” ima­ge. It is neces­sary to main­tain a cer­tain atten­ti­on, and pre­ser­ve a frank­ness, a fresh­ness when cut­ting; even if loa­ded with dis­sa­tis­fac­ti­on, to remain open to renewal. That is the way in whi­ch I face each ima­ge, without being sure that it will get somewhere.

What role does color play in your printmaking?

I always think of color as a struc­tu­ring ele­ment of the ima­ge, whe­re I like to ima­gi­ne a light that inva­des the envi­ron­ment of that ima­ge with such auto­nomy that it can dis­fi­gu­re it, the­reby gene­ra­ting other valu­es and directions.

Being a print as it is, I use some pro­ce­du­res that I car­ry from an expe­ri­en­ce with pain­ting befo­re the allu­re of wood. The use of a cer­tain color is somewhat intui­ti­ve and rela­ted pre­ci­sely to the type of light pre­vai­ling at the moment of the making, of the mixing of the paints and of the ins­tant of the ima­ge. Some­ti­mes a cer­tain mix­tu­re is pre­pa­red for a cer­tain work, but at the end of the pre­pa­ra­ti­on something was modi­fi­ed, or the color itself ends up poin­ting to a use in some other image.

I like to work with the simul­ta­ne­ous cons­truc­ti­on of some works, not many, but three or four that allow a tran­sit of infor­ma­ti­on betwe­en them, and that can ope­ra­te gene­ra­ting coun­ter­points of form and light. In the mid­dle of 2004, on the occa­si­on of the exhi­bi­ti­on at the São Pau­lo Cul­tu­ral Cen­tre, whe­re I showed two lar­ge for­mat prints, I had a very inte­res­ting expe­ri­en­ce with Mr. Car­los (sur­na­me), who is a che­mi­cal engi­ne­er, in the pro­duc­ti­on of spe­ci­fic colors for the cen­ter of San­tos. Over the cour­se of a few months, I would take sam­ples of the walls of the old hou­ses, pho­tos and refe­ren­ces about the port and the his­to­ric cen­ter to his labo­ra­tory in an attempt to pro­du­ce something par­ti­cu­lar, for a par­ti­cu­lar context.

Colors emer­ged with names allu­ding to cer­tain refe­ren­ces that he encoun­te­red when wal­king through the regi­on: Port Yel­low, Indi­an Red, Fron­ta­ria Blue and Mar­ket Gre­en. I thought that this appro­xi­ma­ti­on of color and mate­ri­al would bring the atmosphe­re of that con­text more firmly into the cons­truc­ti­on of the image.

“The stu­dio is an inha­bi­ta­ti­on, the natu­re of everything and each thing”. Your words, about whi­ch I would like to hear more.

I like to think of the stu­dio as this place/space to be inha­bi­ted, whe­re pre­ci­sely the work ari­ses from the rela­ti­onship betwe­en the artist and each thing that sur­rounds him: the tools, the refe­ren­ces, the col­lec­ti­ons of objects, the lands­ca­pe. For me, inha­bi­ting this pla­ce is the first step in the cons­truc­ti­on of the work, whe­re even on idle after­no­ons, loo­king at the ima­ges han­ging on the wall, lis­te­ning to the birds, the noi­ses of the har­bor ave­nue, I feel that time con­que­red and direc­ted towards a poe­tic acti­on. A time that can­not be mea­su­red in valu­es or pro­duc­ti­vity, becau­se it refers to a non-line­ar, sub­jec­ti­ve and to some extent self-refe­ren­ti­al cons­truc­ti­on. Refer­ring, abo­ve all, to inter­nal con­quests, of the pre­ser­va­ti­on of the dre­am and of beauty, of the accep­tan­ce of one­self and of the other.

Cláudio Mubarac is an artist and teacher. He is currently a Free Lecturer (MS-5), in the Undergraduate and Postgraduate Department of Visual Arts at the School of Communications and Arts at USP.