Luis Dourado has been on our radar for a long while, not least because he’s one of the artists that kicked off our early interest in contemporary psychedelic and manipulated images. Born in Portugal and now based in Berlin, Luis creates distinctive series of work that blur the line between visual arts and illustration as well as working on music in his spare time. Having exhibited here in the UK in London and Bristol and worked with some of our favourite platforms and publications, Luis’ work is a refined trip through collage and consciousness.
His recent projects, which bear titles such as, The Garden and Moons explore the possibilities of meaning and communication, subverting our ideas and having a little fun with our notions of reality and illusion. From splicing and reimagining the cosmos to capturing the slow, satisfying growth cycles of nature, every piece of Luis’ work channels precision and rumination. His deft flair for holding a mirror to the objects and phenomenon we take for granted each day is partially what draws us to his images, that and the perfect use of colour and geometric shapes. We had the pleasure of getting to know Luis a little better and asked him few questions about his work, history and how he brings those exceptional images to life.
Tell us about your work; what does it explore and what influences it?
Most of my work is based on the idea of appropriation or manipulation of images, which somehow relates to re-interpretation. This is down to process and technique rather then content or meaning. I mostly explore themes like control, time, illusion or memory because these are also topics that intrigue me, so my work is driven in a way by my own curiosity. Perception is also something that concerns me since I want both visual experience and subjective meanings to have the same relevance.
Tell us about your journey into the creative industries…
I’ve been always driven towards art fields in different ways. When I was 20 wanted to study Fine Arts and ended up studying Product Design for four years in Portugal. After I finished my degree I applied for a master’s degree in Barcelona. I studied Ephemeral Spaces and Public Intervention for two years and I guess that stimulated and led me back into fields more related to art than design. During my master’s I was making a lot of illustration and visual art in my free time, trying out photography and video, bringing things together, trying techniques, staring at things, reading and drawing. I ended up losing the bond with design and focusing on what I felt more naturally driven to. I didn’t overthink it, it just became a routine and by that time I realised what I was doing my activities were mostly surrounded by visual arts.
Tell us about your workspace; what’s it like?
I don’t have a proper studio, I work at home or wherever I am so it’s all very close to me, very personal. There’s not much physical space between my work and my daily life. I wake up and I look at it, it’s around me all the time and I like it that way. I’ve shared studios before for certain periods or for specific projects and having a studio space is probably a true need eventually but right now I need that closeness to what I’m doing. I need to feel like my work belongs to my private space.
Does your location affect the work you create?
I think the city or place where you live always influences you in ways that can affect your mindset, and as a consequence your work. I was living in Barcelona, London and Berlin and have the feeling that these cities evoke distinct cultures, behaviours and experiences. Although I’m always very protective about my work, perhaps a part of it does reflect a state of mind which the city also contributes to.
Tell us about your processes. How do you create new pieces and projects?
I don’t follow any particular method or process, so the way I build a set of works can really vary. Some series are built over a long and detailed sequence of actions that can take place across a year or two, since some materials need to be prepared or just because the work itself requires it. These extended processes mostly relate to projects such as my Is This Still Life series or my book Untitled that took me almost three years to build.
Other artworks are very spontaneous or just happen to materialise in natural way. A while ago I went out to grab some coffee and while walking back I found this book about plants in a box someone was giving away. I opened it and saw these beautiful colour prints of leaves, took it to my room, improvised a table, split all the pages and sliced them into The Garden series. The total process took a few days.
For my early works I was trying out a bunch of different techniques and materials so I’d prepare paper for a few months using coffee or tea. Computers also became a tool, so I was trying out a lot of digital collage and photo manipulation. Eventually I focused on manipulating and adjusting images with a simple cutting tool, ruler and glue.
What inspires you?
I still find cinema one of the most inspiring things ever. I think the act of being inspired should always take place naturally and films cause that kind of feeling in me sometimes. Sometimes when I’m watching a movie my brain starts visiting other places; I’ll be staring at a screen but my head will be a million miles away.
Tell us about your favourite project to date…
My favourite is probably my book Untitled since it was so challenging and extensive in many ways. Untitled is a book dedicated to my mum, dad and sister, but it’s also a speculation about what their lives would have been like if I was never born. For the first part of the project I collected family photos and had to study how to actually build a book. I started reaching out to printing companies, doing a lot of research, going to meetings; all of it was very interesting and helped me to learn a lot about publishing. The first and second parts, printing the books and drawing interventions on them one by one took more than two years.
Besides all the intimate and personal parts, I guess the most interesting thing about the project was the idea of commitment and challenge. I wanted to start a bigger personal project; something that would require a special dedication, something different and deeper than what I had done so far and essentially, something that would lead me to question myself and my work.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m currently developing my work-in-progress series titled, Is This Still Life while also setting up a bunch of collaborations and new series to present this year. With that said, I like to give my work time to steep and room to grow so it can surprise me and lead me to new places.
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Words: Emily Beeson | @younggoldteeth