Adrian Preda | Interview
We were pleased to have Romanian artist Adrian Preda as our guest on The re:art for an exclusive interview.
One of the main themes you address in your works refers to the relationship between men and animals. When did this topic become an interest and what determined you to further explore it?
I consider my bachelor degree (or the beginning of 2008) to be the zero point of this theme, when I made the Fashion Prey series. At least then I became conscious that this direction is very important to me.
Fashion Prey, oil on canvas, 80x80cm, 2008-2009
If I look back, I realize that it actually was a constant and not some point in time; in this regard, I remember my pre-school drawings (when I was 5 or 6 years old), that included various animals, or in secondary school and high school (when I used to often visit the Antipa museum for studies).
At Tonitza, in high school, I did graphics and in the 12th grade I had to do a work that had to involve illustration, poster and book cover. I chose Planet of the Apes by Pierre Boulle. The fact that this topic was naturally evolving within and outside me is motivating enough for me to continue it.
I am also happy about the connection over millenia with cave paintings, idea that I will later explain at your 5th question. Likewise, I thought it to be a good direction as I didn’t know other similar works, with focus on this theme, usually man is the central figure and all related aspects: psychology, society, politics etc., and I feel an over-saturation in this area.
I later discovered that there are other artists with similar concerns, but their solutions are not really my taste. However, no matter what happens in art today, I believe that everyone must work strictly with what bothers and exists within them, and I think this already is happening.
In terms of symbolism, you use a variety of brands in your art, redefined through reversed meanings. What does this process of redefining symbols, images, meanings imply?
In my case, the meanings of elements I use are pretty obvious, clear and lacking ambiguity (hence the propensity for realism at the formal level). Of course, there are multiple levels of interpretation, at least since modernism, so the decryption process is open. In time, I also discovered new meanings in some of my own works.
As for the process, I can find a kinship with Magritte’s game of ideas in the way I imagine some situations; for example, in the case of the dolphin in the bus painting, which depicts a reversed meaning – the marine mammal is the one who disturbs, preventing the city dweller to benefit of transportation, when actually it’s the other way around, many dolphins are caught in fishing nets that choke them.
Bus with dolphin, oil on canvas, 140x200cm, 2010-2011
This is how the whole Fashion Prey project was created, where brands are inserted on animal body, so the reverse of the real situation, where clothes have imprinted the signature of the animal (puma, the crocodile, the kangaroo).
Fashion Prey, acrylic, 40×40, 2009
Do you think that, in current conditions, when man becomes the agent of instability for other species, we can reach a balance between natural and artificial again?
A big problem is overpopulation. Meaning the space directly occupied by people, but also adjacent spaces needed to sustain an over-growing population (agricultural land, road network, railways, petroleum exploitation etc.), at the expense of other species.
This is also a common factor of the extinction of many species, forced to live in a limited area, situation I explored in many of my series (GOLF CLUB, DRIFT, STINT).
GOLF CLUB U.S.A.
Now we know, from different statistics, that we produce more than we need, because of the vagaries of a particular economic system and of greed, which is such a shame, especially when a great part of the population lives in poverty, or even suffers of starvation.
It’s obvious we need a balance and redistribution of resources. I am convinced that it is possible, through a more responsible way of life and production, and man can coexist with other forms of life less harmfully.
We must also introduce recycling at a global scale and use sustainable energy resources (solar, wind); implementing electric engine technology for vehicles and other measures, but we know that there are many circles of interest, who do not even want to hear about this. So theoretically it’s possible, but practically no.
How important is it that the artist conveys a message through his art?
Here we enter an area where I cannot tell exactly, it depends on art theory. Depends on what we understand when we say “message”.
I think it is important that the artist transmits any kind of vibration, as art can be very diverse and it is good to be like this. There are many who support the art of protest, which aims to change mentalities and amend certain negative actions, and I think we really need this.
But there’s also art that communicates in other ways, that does not convey a direct, immediate message, but addresses other issues (for example, like poetry to essay). I think we need all forms.
You’ve recently experienced painting on walls. Can you share a few impressions?
This year I had the chance to paint on walls in two places (an old house on Caimatei street at a Calup event and at the Ciclop Garage – event organized by Work in Progress and The re:art) and it was an extremely pleasant and good experience for me.
At Calup. More photos here.
These events benefited from a large audience, larger than in the case of regular exhibitions, a very important aspect that I enjoyed a lot. It was an opportunity for me to reveal other ideas that were not depicted in my works and another way of arranging them.
At Ciclop. More photos here.
I have lots of scattered sketches on sheets of paper that form a motley surface and I wanted to display them on a larger scale, so not a controlled composition, but rather a set of small drawings that function separately and also together as a whole.
I mentioned the connection with cave paintings, where the zoomorphic motif is central, as in my case. I also use logos as a main element. The logo, articulated in the form we know today (an image-symbol accompanied by text) resembles as language cave paintings (that depicted the animal flanked by dots, lines, possibly a form of proto-writing).
Moreover, there are the historical moments when they occur: if the primitivism and archaic are associated with modernism, then I find reasonable unifying the cave paintings with my discourse. Logos are inserted in my mural works, among other drawings. I thus assume the role of “artist-storyteller”, who presents various scenes and situations to define the contemporary.
What are the steps in your creative process, from the idea or source of inspiration to the final work?
The idea – accumulating documentary materials (visual, literary, audio/video) – execution. In my spare time, I explore topics that interest me, from natural history to the history of philosophy and other fields, in various books, scientific articles, documentaries.
And in my search I was happy to find textual similarities with my visual works, but after the idea came to me; an example is linked to the Truck with oxen work: “By harnessing the ox man began to control and use a motive power other than that furnished by his own muscular energy. The ox was the first step to the steam engine and gasoline motor” (Gordon Childe, “What Happened in History”).
And the music is almost mainstay, I most often work with music, but only music I like, do not listen depending on what I paint.
What are you preparing in the future?
I’m not doing anything special soon, but I will continue to work on my ideas.
Truck with oxen
All images © Adrian Preda
[Originally posted on August 16, 2013 on The re:art Facebook page; Revised for the current version].