Page 1

A _ S LP

Gustavo Ferro

B


Gustavo Ferro AS_BLP

Special Thanks to: Daisy Jones, Garth Gratrix, Sam Meredith and Charlie Levine Graphic Design: Andrew Bell Kindly funded by: Arts Council England All works copyright 2021© Gustavo Ferro gustavoferro.org


In conversation: Charlie Levine & Gustavo Ferro CL: Let’s start at the basics of your practice. You talk about yourself as an artist interested in the urban environment and its relationship with the human body and man-made objects. This is something that I think has always been very evident in your photographic work / instagram feeds. You seem to examine street furniture, and purposefully placed street obstacles and interventions, in a way where they get elevated as artistically ‘sculptural’ – especially through the repetition of certain objects, for example metal event barriers. Is this intentional and a conscious decision or is this how you see these objects? Where does your interest in them stem from? GF: I started noticing the crowd control barriers during the general strike held in Spain on September 29, 2010. At the time I was doing a residency in Barcelona and joined the protests against government labour reforms and austerity measures. The barriers were installed in different areas of the city centre to protect public buildings and squares. Many of them were displaced by protestors in an attempt to blockade the streets and disrupt police violence. I remember quite vividly these scenes of the railings being thrown, bin containers on fire and people marching. From then on I started making interventions using found crowd control barriers to create situations of balance and tension between the object and the public space. I’m always interested in the way people unconsciously subvert the function of certain objects and create nonintentional design with them. I like to observe the role of public space in the city, the social interactions it facilitates, and its transformations that happen over time. CL: That’s a very vivid memory and makes sense as to why these barriers are so central to your work. Your memory is also something we’ve been witnessing a lot of in the demonstrations of the last 12 months. As a world I feel we have been more visibly protesting, and standing up for our human rights. How has your relationship changed, and as an extension all of our relationships, with these barriers since engaging with them post 2010 and in light of current affairs? I ask this also in response to your international presence, in Brazil and now the UK.

Rockified cliffs along the North Shore of Blackpool, 2021

4


GF: The barriers are visible and invisible obstacles, and it’s clear to see how the limitations imposed by social distancing rules have changed our relationship with each other and the city. We are adapting ourselves into a touchless era; modern gadgets operate with facial recognition, voice matching and hand gesture control. Whilst we naturalise touching screens, the pandemic makes us fearful of touching anything which doesn’t belong to us. In São Paulo during lockdown parks were closed and physical barriers were placed to shut down public spaces normally used for leisure. Our common space shrank and fear increased inside us. In this context walking became more important than ever, being in movement and in exchange with the environment made me look at the landscape in a more revealing way. Now that I’m living in Blackpool and experiencing the lockdown limitations here, I’m exploring the local area more in depth and revisiting places with another perspective.

Tactility is an important aspect of the objects and pieces I make. By touching we feel and recognise things at a different pace and comprehend the whole in a more fragmented way CL: São Paulo, your home city, and Blackpool are very different places. Can you tell me a little more about the difference for you in their make up, textures and rhythms? How has your own movement around these places changed and how has your own physicality adapted to the changing landscapes, street furniture, barriers? GF: Well, São Paulo is a megacity and the largest in South America; Blackpool is a coastal town in the northwest of England – you could say that they are the opposite of each other. A lot of my work has been influenced by my experience living in the centre of São Paulo, with all the fast-paced lifestyle, agglomeration of people on the streets and the vibrant and diverse arts scene. But I’m originally from Santos, a port city on the coast of São Paulo, and I feel a connection with places like Blackpool because of my roots – the salt air makes me feel at home. I love the British landscape and I always try to explore the countryside. This is another aspect that I really appreciate about Blackpool, the fact that it’s not too far away from national parks like the Lake District for example. A few years ago I lived in Glasgow and exploring the Highlands was definitely something that had a significant impact on me. Somehow I feel much more in touch with nature when I’m in the UK and I can see why there is such a tradition of walking artists here. Travelling through the country has opened a whole new range of references and experiences to me. I started noticing another kind of countryside infrastructure that we don’t have in Brazil and these things also influenced my art practice. For instance, at the moment in the studio I’m developing a sculpture that makes me think about a stile, these sort of semi-permanent structures you use to cross a fence in rural areas. CL: As you say, Blackpool’s coastline has been very inspiring to you and I think this is really evident in your current studio practice in terms of textures, colours and shapes. Tell us more about this and the place/s in particular in Blackpool that are inspiring you, and if you can describe some of the textures that have encouraged you to work with specific mediums / materials.

5

AS_BLP

Gustavo Ferro


Rockified cliffs along the North Shore of Blackpool, 2021

GF: Walking along the North Shore promenade I found these artificial cliffs, ‘rockified’ by Pulham & Son in 1923. It is a man-made landscape built with a material that resembles natural rock called pulhamite. I became interested in this place not just because of a curiosity about the materials I found, but also for its own presence in space and the relationship people have with it. Originally the cliffs were designed with pathways linking the lower promenade to the top, but nowadays most of these pathways are blocked which creates ‘non-spaces’ within the cliffs. After researching about other Pulham works in Lancashire that still exist today, such as Ashton Gardens and Promenade Gardens in Lytham St Annes, the Rivington Terraced Gardens in Lever Park, and other developments in public parks in Preston; I realised that despite the importance of their work and the amount it must have cost Blackpool at the time, the cliffs is the most dilapidated in comparison to all the others. Thinking about abandoned spaces and their potential occupation, I started to experiment with glass fibre reinforced concrete in the studio to build sculptures that resemble the appearance of pulhamite, combined with fragments of crowd control barriers, metal chains and cable ties, which are elements I’ve been working with more recently.

I like to observe the role of public space in the city, the social interactions it facilitates, and its transformations that happen over time. CL: This is so interesting, the artificial made to look real but through time and disregard they become artificial again, somehow, through the lack of use. When we spoke about this latest work inspired by ‘rockified’, earlier in the year, we discussed the materiality of your sculptures and the importance of texture and colour. However, I want to bring in your 2D works here as well. I think your drawings also really represent the ‘otherness’ of this site and the sculptures. Can you speak a little of these works? GF: It makes me think about the sentence by Graham Harman: “nature is not natural and can never be naturalized”, when you say that somehow they become artificial again, maybe that’s when they start to get into their state of ruin. Tactility

6


is an important aspect of the objects and pieces I make. By touching we feel and recognise things at a different pace and comprehend the whole in a more fragmented way; subjective memories are evoked when one feels certain shapes, textures, temperatures. Colour in this way has the same kind of importance. I opted to use flesh and stone tones in the drawings and sculptures. They are like ‘rockified’, floppy bodies and objects that relate to each other to create their own harmony, their own state of being. When I’m drawing I usually work with quantity; this practice derives from drawings made in notebooks where the seriality of pages creates an abstract narrative. Shapes and forms repeat themselves in different moments and the marks that one page leaves on the other also add a layer of imprevisibility to the images. I like to play with chance and sometimes I force a situation to happen by assembling two different drawings together in a monotype process. This studio practice is more introspective, so I use my memory of the places I’ve been to, mixed with an intuitive attempt to grasp inner emotions. What comes out of it are the drawings, something I do as a kind of healing process. CL: Personally I can really see an energetic dialogue between you, your drawings and then the sculptural works. There is a direct route from you and your personal experiences of spaces, places, texture and physical / street level interruptions through to your drawings, with the repetition of forms almost like the steps we take, repetitive – though everytime we take them they’re slightly different, almost like the floor moulding below us, through to your new sculptural works. I think I’d like to conclude here, with a reflection from you about the next steps you will take and what next for these Blackpool inspired artworks. GF: Your comment illustrates well an idea of metamorphosis which is really important to my work and fundamentally I think that’s what everything in life is about... This body of work is still in process, I keep experimenting with materials to create drawings and sculptures. The next step will be an exhibition where I’m going to collaborate with the artist Sam Meredith (who taught me about GFRC) and explore ways of displaying the work. Rockified cliffs along the North Shore of Blackpool, 2021

Charlie Levine is an independent curator based in London. She is currently codirector of SqW:Lab, an international fellowship for creatives in Mumbai.

7

AS_BLP

Gustavo Ferro


AS_BLP_115 Oil on paper, 420x594mm, 2020

8


AS_BLP_121 Oil on paper, 420x594mm, 2020

9

AS_BLP

Gustavo Ferro


AS_BLP_109 Oil on paper, 420x594mm, 2020

10


AS_BLP_116 Oil on paper, 420x594mm, 2020

11

AS_BLP

Gustavo Ferro


AS_BLP_117 Oil on paper, 420x594mm, 2020

12


AS_BLP_119 Oil on paper, 420x594mm, 2020

13

AS_BLP

Gustavo Ferro


14


15

AS_BLP

Gustavo Ferro


AS_BLP_124 Oil on paper, 420x594mm, 2020

16


AS_BLP_126 Oil on paper, 420x594mm, 2020

17

AS_BLP

Gustavo Ferro


AS_BLP_127 Oil on paper, 420x594mm, 2020

18


AS_BLP_122 Oil on paper, 420x594mm, 2020

19

AS_BLP

Gustavo Ferro


AS_BLP_128 Oil on paper, 420x594mm, 2020

20


AS_BLP_129 Oil on paper, 420x594mm, 2020

21

AS_BLP

Gustavo Ferro


Untitled Clay, wood, acrylic and oil paint, 44x31x18cm, 2021

24


Untitled Clay, wood, acrylic and oil paint, 39x31x15cm, 2021

25

AS_BLP

Gustavo Ferro


Untitled Clay, wood, acrylic and oil paint, 37x44x20cm, 2021

26


Untitled Clay, wood, acrylic and oil paint, 46x23x17cm, 2021

27

AS_BLP

Gustavo Ferro


Untitled Steel tubes, steel chain, plastic cable tie, concrete, spray paint, 156x96x100cm, 2021

28


Untitled Steel chain, plastic cable tie, sand bag, concrete, 156x70x50cm, 2021

29

AS_BLP

Gustavo Ferro


30


31

AS_BLP

Gustavo Ferro


Untitled Steel tubes, steel chain, plastic cable tie, concrete, spray paint, 156x96x100cm, 2021

32


Untitled Steel chain, plastic cable tie, spray paint, concrete, 142x52x42cm, 2021

33

AS_BLP

Gustavo Ferro


Untitled Steel tubes, plastic cable tie, spray paint, concrete, sand bag, 62x128x50cm, 2021

34


Profile for Gustavo Ferro Lopes

AS_BLP  

AS_BLP was developed during residency at Abingdon Studios, Blackpool, 2021. The publication contains images of Gustavo Ferro's work and an i...

AS_BLP  

AS_BLP was developed during residency at Abingdon Studios, Blackpool, 2021. The publication contains images of Gustavo Ferro's work and an i...

Advertisement

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded

Recommendations could not be loaded