Saddo | Interview
It is a great pleasure to have Romanian artist Saddo, now based in Lisbon, as one of our guests on The re:art. Find out more about his activity in an exclusive interview.
You recently had several projects with Aitch – “The Garden of Good and Evil” in Canada, the mural for Burn Yard in Budapest – and there’s a full agenda for the near future. How is it to work with your life partner and also one of your favorite artists?
It is very beautiful and challenging, we motivate each other, it is very nice to have a common goal, to work on projects together. She also had a good influence on me, both in terms of style and technique, as well as work ethic. Heliana motivated me to try new techniques and media which I wouldn’t have discovered by myself, and I also encourage her to paint large murals.
Aitch & Saddo – The Garden of Good and Evil
As an artist, you explore many fields, from illustration and painting to street art. What do you like most about each one and what new fields would you like to explore in the future?
I think every technique or medium comes up in a certain mood. Sometimes when I feel like working quietly, insist much on an illustration, draw sketches, details, complex sets, many layers of color and so on, then illustration on paper fits me best.
When I’m on a rush or hectic and pay less attention, I paint on canvas or wood. I like to begin from very plastic backgrounds, splashes of color, abstract forms, graphism, and keep adding elements, characters, details etc. Or when I paint on wood to start from the texture and color of the wood, and add a very simple character, to interfere as little as possible and use various accidents, stains on the wood surface.
And painting walls I think suits me best, although I haven’t painted many murals , it’s very nice and challenging to paint on large scale and different surfaces, textures, colors. I like both the creative process and the visibility of a mural.
Saddo in Budapest
I do not know what I’d like to try next, I think I would like becoming better at what I do – illustration, painting, and have the opportunity to paint more murals.
Other and Saddo in Halifax
Regarding street art, you were a founding member of one of the first street art crews in Romania, The Playground. Tell us more about this experience, how did it influence your later works and collaborations?
At that time, I had just finished university and felt lost and scared and unsure of myself. And then I started to discover street art and, together with a friend, Gabi, from Cluj, we started to talk, make stickers, then launched a site and began looking for other people in Cluj who were doing that.
That’s how we discovered Kiddiez, Lipicipespate and Viespe. It was very very fun, we were always together, drawing, cutting stickers and stencils, paste-ups, we would go out for a beer or to paste up stuff on the streets.
It was a very beautiful period and for me a liberating experience, I started to believe in myself and have a more liberal attitude, to come up with all sort of stuff and care less about whether it was art or if someone likes it. And I think this helped me become better as an artist. This and the fact that I was constantly working with my friends, it was very challenging and this made each one of us better at what we were doing.
Gradually, I began trying other stuff, from small stickers to stencil, then bigger paste-ups, first printed, then draw/ painted, and at the end started creating larger and larger murals. And I began meeting other artists, people from zines, from galleries where my works were exhibited, I attended various street art festivals etc.
Saddo in Bangkok
We were pleasantly surprised to see your works at the Art of Comics exhibition. What’s your relationship with comics?
I do not know if I was ever a big comics fan, when I was little I had a friend, Robert, who draw sci-fi comics, and this was one of the most important influences, however I was never such a big fan of comics.
I was influenced by lowbrow art, sci-fi and horror movies, cartoons, which also were related to comics, so you can say it was an indirect source of inspiration. I think what you saw at the exhibition is my only or second attempt in comics. It’s fun, I would like to get more focused and organized and try something in this direction, as I am a big fan of storytelling, books, movies, and so on and it would be cool to tell an illustrated story.
You mentioned naive art, African or Oriental art, old illustrations of birds or plants, mythological or religious symbols, and horror movies and science fiction books as influences in your art. You also seem to have a series of favorite motifs and symbols – the bird, the masks. What is their meaning?
I do not remember thinking about a very specific meaning, I would like my works to be ambiguous, as in a dream, where a character becomes another without you even noticing, or a frame which is not very stable. I don’t like symbols and stuff that have a specific meaning. But perhaps, even if not conscious, my birds and masks mean something.
When I was in Bucharest and wanted to leave, I started drawing birds with legs – a combo of something that is very free and could fly, but does not, as it has human legs…
Are colors important in your works?
I think it once again depends on mood or taste, I sometimes like working with colors, sometimes monochrome, or with contrasts or pastel. In my recent works, for example, I used mainly blue, green, brown etc.
In The Forest
You’ve exhibited in Berlin, Vienna, New York and many important cities around the world. How did this contact with the international art scene affect your artistic evolution?
I think it made me more responsible about what I am doing, made me become better, more serious and hardworking, gave me an impulse to try new stuff.
You moved to Lisbon with Aitch. We know you also lived in Berlin for a while. Why Lisbon?
We wanted to get out of our comfort zone and make a higher leap, more uncomfortable and challenging. In Bucharest we felt the need of something new, or perhaps we had too much of one place. And Lisbon is our favorite city, we long wanted to move and finally decided to do it. And hope to stay here for long.
What are the following projects for 2013?
We’ve just had the last Aitch & Saddo exhibition for The Garden of Good & Evil show, at Atelier Olschinsky in Vienna. It’s an art print exhibition, with some originals we had left from other exhibitions this year. This is mainly the last project for this year.
We are now trying to accommodate ourselves and make some contacts in Lisbon, and soon we’ll start working for the 2014 exhibitions, several group shows in London and Rijeka, Croatia, a new duo-show Aitch & Saddo at La Petite Mort Gallery in Ottawa and solo exhibitions in Portugal, I also have one at Objectos Misturados in Viana do Castello, and Heliana at O!Galeria in Porto.
Oh, and we’ll have a group exhibition in Bucharest, it wasn’t announced yet, so I cannot offer details, but it is organized by The Type Collective, will be focused on letters and is called 26 Characters. And it will probably take place at Acuarela in November.
My Body is a Coffin
The Charmer II
Aitch & Saddo at Olschinsky, Vienna
Aitch & Saddo – The Golden Hours – Calina Gallery, Timişoara
All images © Saddo
[Originally posted on October 30, 2013 on The re:art Facebook page; Revised for the current version].