10 Questions with Patrícia Magalhães
Patrícia Magalhães (Luanda, 1966) lives and works in Lisbon. She studied drawing and painting at the University of Fine Arts in Lisbon and at ArCo - Art & Visual Communication Centre and Lisbon. She views herself as a multidisciplinary artist. However, her work could be seen mostly as drawing. The contamination with painting, etching, sculpture, and photography in a diversity of mediums and scales that she applies in each work is perceptible. She is represented in some private collections such as Fundação Bienal de Cerveira and Universidade Lisboa, among others.
Cut-outs | DESCRIPTION The “cut-outs” series is about the cycle of life - starting from a set of prehistoric scratches of symbols and representations that evolve mutating in flat monochromatic and overlapping shapes. This metamorphosis mimics the permanent duel between positive and negative, what is full and what is empty. The set of drawings that I chose to show in the interview for Al-Tiba 9 Magazine is a subseries from the “cut-outs” that I called “negatives” (like the empty space left behind when cutting out a shape). It deals specifically with the acceptance of what is different – the challenge in these works was to reuse and refit leftovers of colored sheets instead of considering them dirty by-products to discard, thus embracing what is different and unexpected.
Cinza Rosa, from the Cut-Out Series “Negatives”, collages, gouache on 180 g/m2 paper, 59 x 42 cm, 2020-2021. Patrícia Magalhães©
Rosa vermelho, from the Cut-Out Series “Negatives”, collages, gouache on 180 g/m2 paper, 59 x 42 cm, 2020-2021. Patrícia Magalhães©
INTERVIEW Could you tell us a little more about your background? Well, my journey was a bit erratic. I dropped out of Fine Arts University to take a job not related to the artistic world. But I do believe the most important thing is never to give up, so I kept going as a self-taught artist, with a little help from some workshops, mostly in etching. I never stopped drawing and painting, but it would take me several years before I finally resumed my studies and managed to dedicate myself exclusively to the artistic practice. What is your personal aim as an artist? I've been drawing for as long as I can remember. My mum says that even as a child, I was always doodling, making small little sculptures with wires, overlaying colored sheets of plastic, and so on… That being said, drawing has always been what I wanted to do, so I believe my aim as an artist is to follow my vocation and keep expressing myself on the matters that interest me through visual arts.
Amarelo azul, from the Cut-Out Series “Negatives”, collages, gouache on 180 g/m2 paper, 59 x 42 cm, 2020-2021. Patrícia Magalhães©
In your "Cut-outs" series, different shapes and colors are juxtaposed to create a wide range of subjects. How do you choose them? Do shapes and colors have a specific meaning? The shapes I used in the "Cut-outs" series derive from research I carried out to produce a previous one called "Ruler Hard" and, although the subjects treated in each series are profoundly different, the shapes used in both came from the same initial research - some petroglyphs in Alta, Norway - and evolved differently. Another reference: in my "Cut-Outs" series, the colors and the type of incisions were strongly influenced by Henri Matisse's work with cut outs and his "Jazz." However, my creative process is one of deconstructing a set of previous drawings I made and then reframing the pieces together. If you think about it, the previous drawings are still there, but they are not perceptible as such. We only see their shuffled forms in a game of positives and negatives of those elements.
How important are spontaneous actions for your work? Do you plan every cut and line, or do you let shapes come alive by random interventions? I work with both approaches, and most of the time, I produce more than a series simultaneously. A good example of this is exactly the series "Cut-Outs" and its sub-series, the "Negatives." The first is the result of research, which is usually a long and exhaustive process. Every detail on each of those 29 drawings is not only intentional but the sum of the many decisions I took along the way - like choosing in what way to express the subject, which format and scale better express it, what technique and medium will I use and why, etc., etc. - in a systematic evolution of traceable choices quite easy to follow in my notes, initial sketches and first drawings. On the other hand, in the "Negatives" series, you sense the clear need I had to work more spontaneously in expressing what concerns me. Generally, I use this approach in more conceptual works.
Amarelo cinza, from the Cut-Out Series “Negatives”, collages, gouache on 180 g/m2 paper, 59 x 42 cm, 2020-2021. Patrícia Magalhães© Cinza sobre preto, from the Cut-Out Series “Negatives”, collages, gouache on 180 g/m2 paper, 59 x 42 cm, 2020-2021. Patrícia Magalhães©
Your “Negatives” out of your “Cut-outs” series that you present here have powerful messages. They deal with the acceptance of what is different, with the act of embracing diversity. How important is it for you to disseminate your work with powerful messages like this? It is very important, but it is not the focus of my interest when I want to express myself through visual arts. My works are not statements. What I do are interpretations of what surrounds me, what afflicts me, what enchants me, what interests me. It is kind of a daily process, like a “digestion”, and I cannot explain why some subjects stay with me longer or more deeply than others…
What was the most challenging part of your project? When you talk about the project, it implies work that requires planning and, in that sense, I would say that the research is not the only determinant but absolutely challenging for me. Sometimes it gets so complex that I often resort to algorithms. Based on the options that I take throughout the research phase, I define the bases for new work.
RH Cut-outs (positives) 24, gouache, gesso and glue on 250g/m2 paper and mounted on platex, 57.5 x 36.5 cm, 2020. Patrícia Magalhães©
What do you hope that the public takes away from your work? I want my work to communicate with those who experience it. My art is a form of expression, an extension of me, echoing subjects that matter to me. It’s meant to be felt (more than being understood), and that is what I would like people to get from it.
Where do you find inspiration for your work? My work is about thoughts. As I mentioned, my work it’s my interpretation of what surrounds me, what afflicts me, what enchants me, what interests me.
Verde vermelho, from the Cut-Out Series “Negatives”, collages, gouache on 180 g/m2 paper, 59 x 42 cm, 2020-2021. Patrícia Magalhães©
What advice can you give to beginning artists? I’m in no position for giving advice but, for me, it was important to always believe in what I felt and find creative ways to express it - it still is. That plus hard work, perseverance, and resilience.
Finally, what are your plans for 2021 and the future in general? For me, over this year and probably the next one, the most important thing in terms of work is to recover from the negative impacts that the pandemic outbreak and the multiple worldwide confinements had on everyone, especially in the artistic communities. I kept working, though, so my priority is to resume exhibitions, both homeland and abroad.
Patrícia Magalhães portrait by photographer André Abrantes