Gonçalo Preto Interview - The Hopper Prize

Gonçalo Preto

Gonçalo Preto on inspirational mentors, experimentation & working with various mediums, & exploring the idea of absence and immateriality.

How did you get into making art?

I grew up drawing constantly. Having parents who always supported and encouraged my making kept it going from the start. I loved watching cartoons and comics while trying to recreate them with doodles. I’ve also been lucky enough to have had mentors who fueled this passion, including a notable teacher in high school. I became serious about my work about a decade ago when I decided to dedicate myself fully to a committed studio practice.

What are you currently working on?

I have recently returned to school to pursue an MFA degree. As such, I am going through an expanded phase of experimentation and working with various mediums, predominantly oil painting, ink drawings, and multiple printmaking techniques (including tracing monotypes and mezzotint). With that, the work is also changing conceptually. Now I am slowly combining the importance of penumbra, or the shadow, and exploring the idea of absence and immateriality.

Upcoming projects this year include a group show in May with my fellow painting graduates at Sol Koffler Gallery (Rhode Island School of Design), a group show in June at Marvin Gardens in New York, and a potential solo show in December.

I am going through an expanded phase of experimentation and working with various mediums.

Gonçalo Preto

What inspired you to get started on this body of work?

Penumbra, or the shadow, has been a central element in my visual grammar as the suggestion of what once existed. Though, ongoing conversations with colleagues and faculty have brought me to realize that what I initially thought to be the core concerns of my work are much greater than the constant representation of light. Absence, resulting in an uncomfortable “hum” that suggests and manifests itself through a frequency capable of piercing the body, creates a parallel between what is represented and the internalized memories of the receptor. This has led me to focus on the referred “hum” as a vessel for future pictorial and ambiguous narratives.

Do you work on distinct projects or do you take a broader approach to your practice?

I strive for an approach that is as broad as possible. However, I tend to do the opposite. One significant reason I returned to school was to improve such tendencies. The intention now is to reassess the work, create mechanisms for a consistent flow, and maintain a more sustainable practice.

What’s a typical day like in your studio?

Outside the class schedule, I am consistently in the studio until late. On a perfect day, I might spend the morning on the computer, reading, and the rest of the day is spent working on multiple pieces or studies. I am a slow painter, so I always prefer to have numerous surfaces to work on. This is partly due to the natural drying times, which tend to be a blessing in disguise as the breaks and varied processes can in fact inform the works very positively.

Who are your favorite artists?

The list is vast! But I will mention some of the most formative painters throughout the years as well as recent influences and discoveries. Starting with Rembrandt, Goya, Francis Bacon, Edward Hopper, Michael Borremans and many, many more! Most recently I have been exploring the work of Vija Celmins, Victor Man, Domenico Gnoli, Lourdes Castro, Catherine Murphy, Bonnard, David Byrd, Lois Dodd, Matt Mullican, and Raoul de Keyser just to name a few!

Where do you go to discover new artists?

I use different resources to discover and learn more about artists. Primarily through conversations with friends, Instagram, RISD’s library, and, more recently, short trips to New York. Recent favorite shows include the Hopper retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art, Ebecho Muslimova at Magenta Plains, and Ted Gahl at Harkawik in New York. I’m fortunate enough to be surrounded by a community that stimulates fruitful conversations between practices, where I have the opportunity to learn about different artists and authors everyday.

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