Brazilian artist Pedro Jardim captures a distinctive, feral beauty while the expression and subtle color palettes of his subjects create an evocative sense of mystery. A graduate of graphic design at ESPM, Rio de Janeiro, and having studied at The School of Visual Arts (New York), Pedro’s compelling artistic vision (whether drawing, painting, or sculpting) explores the origins and corridors of myth, physics, and the gentle ephemera of nature’s botanical elements.
I had the pleasure of speaking with him to learn more about his process and why “memories, oneiric, and self” are words he aptly uses to describe the foundation of his visual narrative. Take a moment and discover the nuances of his work, thoughts on the artist’s role in today’s society, and what lies ahead for him on the career horizon.
“Art is an enlightenment experience and it can be awakening.”
I find (personally) that there is a distinct creative process and then a mental process that accompanies it like that of a needful companion. Tell us more about your approach? When you’re creating a new artwork, be it a painting or sculpture, what happens?
The early stages of creation are a lot of fun and one of my favorite parts of making art. I do a lot of research and it is in these early stages that I try to figure out how to translate a non-visual idea into a visual thing be it a drawing, painting or sculpture. The material choices are also addressed at this stage so that I know the physical capabilities and limitations that particular piece will have. I definitely agree with you, sometimes it feels like I’m juggling these two creative and mental process all at once.
After that I’ll have a consistent idea of what the piece is going to look like and usually at this point I’ll do tons of sketches and prototypes until I get a layout that I am confident about. Then I’ll start the actual piece and quite honestly the process of doing the actual piece can either be extremely enjoyable or a really hard task. That is why I take my time with the execution and usually taking breaks, going outside for a few minutes, focusing in other things so that I can get a fresh perspective on the work once I get back to it.
There is something about how the piece looks like through all the different stages of the process that I really like. I usually take tons of pictures of all the stages the piece goes through. Sculptures are very interesting to watch their evolution specially ceramics, you have the “shapeless” clay then you’ll mold it, refine it and then there is the firing, which is amazing. Sometimes it can get pretty hard to execute something you have idealized in your head and it is funny because the pieces that are usually harder to work and are the ones that I end up liking the most… probably because of the challenge they presented so besides enjoying the actual piece there is also a feeling of overcoming yourself.
What can you tell us about your inspirations and biggest influences for these pieces?
Nature itself is something I am very inspired by as well as astronomy, physics, spirituality and also history and the individuals behind it. I love to read and research legends and mythology, the Greeks being my favorite. I find it extremely interesting to try to explain amazing natural phenomenon and complex emotional states from a humanized perspective. I noticed I am very curious about the origins of things, life, traditions, rituals, etc.
I love artist like Botticelli, Rodin, Klimt, Modigliani, Milton da Costa, Carl Milles, the ancient Greeks and off course I am very inspired by more recent artists like James Jean, Osgemeos, Brennand, Amy Sol, Victor Brecheret, Beth Cavener, Vik Muniz and Paula Rego. There are also some really talented Brazilian artists, friends of mine, from my generation that are worth mentioning like Hugo Inglez, Combone, Marcelo Zissu, Cadu Comfort, Bozó and Guilherme Memi to name a few.
You’ve just mentioned nature being an inspiration. Your protagonists seem beautifully feral in it, either within or becoming. At what moment do you feel they have a voice and a breath of life in the existence you have created for them?
I feel like they are extensions of myself so in a way they are an outlet for a specific thought or emotion that I had usually combined with something that captures my interest. I guess they have an existence of themselves once the idea is in its final shape and when the piece is done, it is like the first time you meet someone you only spoke on the phone or by text. You know they already existed but now you actually know them.
Do you have a particular artwork you’re most proud of that perhaps speaks to you louder than the others? If so, what sets it apart?
One of my latest pieces “Chuva” has become one of my favorites. There is something about its simplicity and peculiarity that really got into me. It is pretty easy for me to overcomplicate my ideas and end up with a piece that might have a lot going on so I really like when I manage to keep only the essentials.
There is also an old painting of mine “Efemérida” that I really like, despite the big technical difference there is from my painting skills from 2014 and now, I still really like it. It is a concept that took me a while to come up with and it still persistent to this day.
It’s interesting the way there is a temperate color palette making a distinguishable appearance in your body of work. Is there a message that you hope engages viewers?
Color has always been a subject that really concerns me because you can say a lot just with color itself and it can change the entire message you are trying to send. I guess, this recent palette, I’ve been using is coming from an attempt to portray balance. I’ve been really into exploring the nuances between blue and green which I believe help bring an ethereal feel and putting that together with those pink/peach colors is a way to warm and emphasize a specific part of the piece.
Art, regardless of form or era, shapes expression in ways that are unique and fluent to the individual artist. What role do you feel the artist has in today’s society? And where do you see yourself within that role?
We live in a time where we are so overwhelmed with information that it is awfully common to only scratch the surface of a subject instead of getting to the bottom of it. People hardly pay attention to content and that is something I feel we should be concerned about.
What it is perceived as art has changed over time but I don’t think that the visual problem is the first issue to be addressed by artists. Of course, the visual aspect of making and enjoying art is extremely important but in my opinion, art is much more than that. Art is an enlightenment experience and it can be awakening.
Well said, Pedro. Thank you for taking time to let our audience know more about you and your beautiful artwork. Will you share what you are currently working on… and what’s on the horizon?
I have just arrived in the US and by the end of January, I will be going to a winter residency at Penland where I’ll be working more with ceramics and besides that I have some sculptures featured in a couple shows here in the US. The first show I’m participating is the Surreal Salon 10 curated by Ron English at Baton Rouge Gallery in Louisiana, there will be an evening event on January 27th. The second show is at the American Museum of Ceramic Arts in Los Angeles (AMOCA), it is called Fahrenheit 2018, curated by Patti Warashina, and it will open to public on March 10. I highly encourage people to go check out the shows if they are in the area, there are a lot of really good artists on both shows.
After that, I’ll go back to Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) where I will be working on 12 paintings for a series of prints that should be ready by September. After that, I will be going to the Netherlands to spend a year there… I’ve seen there is a lot going on in their art scene so I’m looking forward to this.
Thank you for giving me this space here, it was a lot of fun.