Creative explorations #4 : Ricardo Alcaide

Ricardo Alcaide is one of the most important protagonist in America Latina art context. His research focus on the exploration of architecture and the impact of mismanagement in Latin American societies.

In 1935 German philosopher Walter Benjamin wrote the essay “The work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction”.
The subject and themes of the essay are about the aura of a work of art; the artistic authenticity of the artefact; its cultural authority; and the aestheticization of politics for the production of art, became resources for research in the fields of art history and architectural theory, cultural studies and media theory.

Born in Venezuela in 1967, Ricardo Alcaide in more that 20 years of careers creates art inspired by urban architecture, inhabitant and forgotten places.
His recognozable art and the purity of his minimal abstract works captures the observer’s attention in a dimension where his artworks are the result of a searching and healing process, extracting elements as abstract metaphor which can exist in contrast to the conflict and instability we see all around us. Ricardo alcaide should’nt be considered as a political artist even if his works certainly have political references as, in his artistic research ,everything revolves around emphasizing the architectural forgetfulness in our society.
Simple materials to express ideas and to explore the use of color, which is mostly influenced by popular culture in the Tropics, but also by modernism in Latin America.

Ricardo Alcaide
Photo Coustery: Von Bartha | Ricardo Alcaide.

Editor: Ricardo, let’s talk about your creative vision. How does the creative process of your works develop?

Ricardo Alcaide:I like to create a dialogue between my immediate context and some of my childhood memories, for example, finding beauty and harmony from harsh urban realities. On a personal level, I am concerned about the impact of mismanagement in Latin American societies, specifically within the tropical environments where I come from, how the marginalization in our societies affects the way things are organized, and how this is projected through -almost imperceptible – signs within our cultures. I see my work as the result of a searching and healing process, extracting elements as abstract metaphors which can
exist in contrast to the conflict and instability we see all around us. I like to express myself through pared down ideas of forms and color.
My process has evolved though the years, as have the media to express it. I’m always looking for something new in my work, while maintaining a constant conceptual interest that I explore through different dynamics. My practice starts from how I experience my surroundings, leading me into different ideas that I can materialize in my aesthetic language.
I get very excited about found objects, mainly rubble from construction sites and demolitions or other strange broken objects —anything that can suggest or generate new constructive ideas. Materiality is key in my work; I like to work with simple materials to express my ideas and to explore the use of color, which is mostly influenced by popular culture in the Tropics, but also by modernism in Latin America.
I grew up surrounded by the spirit of modernism, and it has always played an important part in my process, when selecting or making aesthetic decisions or in how specific interests emerge. However, the present still informs more directly and redefines my narratives, giving me that space where the perfection
of modernist ideas meets the uncontrollable conflicts of contemporary life in materials and techniques that inform the intention of my work.

Photo Courtesy: Ricardo Alcaide

Editor: I read you were born in Venezuela, but you live and work in Sao Paulo, Brazil. You also lived in Europe. How is the “art panorama” in America Latina? Are there differences in approaching contemporary art between Europe and Latin America?

Ricardo Alcaide: I was born and grew up in Caracas. I lived in London for fourteen years and in Madrid for a while, and now I’ve been living in Sao Paulo for quite a long time. Living abroad for all this time has helped me to see Latin America from a different angle, and most importantly to appreciate and understand its cultures in a much better way. Today I identify myself as Latin American rather than from a specific country or nationality. My roots are clear and very relevant but I feel strongly connected to different communities and cultures as an artist.I find the Latin American art scene very rich and diverse across the continent. It is more relevant today than ever and it has grown a lot in the last twenty years, gaining a better place in the global art world, entering important collections and exhibition spaces, for instance. Overall, I don’t think
there are major differences in European and Latin American art scenes. However, I do think that European countries probably offer more academic support for emerging artists. In Latin America, by contrast, that academic environment might not be as strong or its influence might not be as obvious. For instance, it’s to find here artists who have made their own way, emerging from precarious or weak institutions into international platforms. I’m personally quite critical of the idea there is a way to be an artist “by the book”, rather than a practice that is based on an inner need to explore an impulse to make work. Obviously, this is a very relative and individual process: there are many ways to get there, but I feel that a formal education isn’t the only answer. There are a broader range of possibilities to grow as an artist today, which can be
adapted to individual needs. Beside the opportunities for the young artists in Latin America, the whole art scene in the region doesn’t feel as united as it may seem. The difference of language, in the case of Brazil, and the vast territories in between, create natural boundaries between countries, which means the arts often remain quite local and each country has its own individual scene, rather than facilitating exchange between countries. There are some exceptions to this, such as regional biennials that have emerged over recent years, but I think it would be interesting to activate more dynamic exchanges between Latin American countries since it could create more awareness of our similarities, and pave the way for better understanding and richer, mutual support.

Ricardo Alcaide art
Photo Courtesy: Ricardo Alcaide

Editor:Are young artists supported enough in the development of their artistic research in America Latina?
Do you have any advice to give to organizations for the development of the creativity of young artists?

Ricardo Alcaide: There are plenty of public and independent self-run spaces like art residencies or other alternative initiatives across Latin America. Opportunities and support have grown enormously, and today it is more inclusive and accessible than years ago.On the other hand, thinking idealistically, my impression is that most of the education systems in the region are still very traditional in focus or even, in some cases, archaic.In the future, it would be very interesting to see more support to encourage communities from very young age, such as through offering more inclusive and diverse opportunitieswithin primary and secondary
education that could spark creativity of children from a young age and guide them into the arts.

Photo Courtesy: Ricardo Alcaide

Editor: The next question I am going to ask you is a reflection on what is happening in our society.2020,2021and the beginning of this 2022, due to the Coronavirus disease, has greatly affected our way of life and our way of being creative. Has this event, influenced your artistic research in some way?

Ricardo Alcaide:This may sound a bit weird, but I was expecting something like this to happen, I just didn’t know in what form it was coming. To me the world as we knew it before the pandemic was completely out
of shape and becoming unbearable and unsustainable in many ways. In the art world, there was no time to process anything. You just went from one art fair to the next, struggling to follow the agenda and take care of production at the same time, especially if you work on you own, like I do. The arts were taken over by aggressive business strategies, losing sensitivity and meaning. The worldwide crisis came as great pause, to rethink. Whereas the pandemic is obviously very difficult time on a global scale, on a personal level it hasn’t affected me as much directly; I’ve been adapting easily to the different stages and changes. Creatively, I’ve been constantly producing but also reviewing the past, trying to understand myself through it, taking the time to simply observe what’s going on out there through social media for example. However, it has been a little disappointing, seeing the trends and phenomena. I still can’t decide what to make out of it, but there are a lot of neurotic attitudes, everyone is trying so hard to get some attention.To me, this test requires more from us, something else rather than selling ourselves like crazy. We need to realize the important things in life and rearrange many aspects of it.I don’t need, nor wish, to go back to the ‘old’ normal. I prefer to move forward to the next normal, whatever it is.

Photo Courtesy: Ricardo Alcaide

Editor:Tell us all about your relationship with photography.

Ricardo Alcaide:Photography was an important part in my early education as a visual artist. It was the first thing I did after finishing secondary school and it gave me a great chance to see the world in a different way, giving me great visual analysis skills and discipline. Back then,it was about learning and practicing analogue, black and white photography, from taking the picture, developing my own negatives, to printing in the darkroom, where I spent hours, days and years. It was the perfect way to understand not only photography but myself and life, and to discover other interests. Photography was a great tool, but I was always looking to express myself though other media as well. From the start, I wanted to move from the two-dimensional into three-dimensional objects. My excitement came when I mixed them up, and different
media have allowed me to express myself through my work. For some time, I made my living through photography, but only circumstantially, it was a good way to survive when I was living in London. Way back, I worked for years as a professional photographer, and it was an amazing experience.

Photo Courtesy : Ricardo Alcaide

Editor:Tell me about you. When did you have your first approach with art and when did you realize that you wanted to dedicate your life to it?

Ricardo Alcaide:From an early age, I was always making and collecting objects. I felt moved to create things and integrate them into my world, to improve it somehow. This gave me a real buzz and got me exited, and for as long as I can remember, I was always looking out for a project. My parents always gave me the freedom to be myself, growing up playing and creating without restrictions.When I was finishing secondary school, I had my doubts. For a moment, I thought I should have a proper career like everyone else, because it was a little difficult for me to stand out without knowing how to. But I knew deep inside that a normal life
was not an option for me. In my heart I was only caring about being creative and have total freedom.
I didn’t know how to pursue it, practically speaking, because there was so little information back then. I started with photography workshops and studied printing techniques in a small art school. From there, I continued very much on my own and I never studied in an internationally recognized art school, not even when I had the opportunity living in London. So, I guess that’s why it took me so long to get where I am, in a place where I feel more secure and accomplished, expressing myself more truthfully, a search that never ends.

Photo Courtesy: Ricardo Alcaide

Editor:Do you want to give any advice to young creatives who will read this interview?

Ricardo Alcaide: We don’t learn much from advice, we learn much better from making mistakes. The life through the eyes of each individual is unique, so everyone experiences life in a very different way. I believe the way we grow up defines us and how we deal with everything, more than we can imagine. So, if we can connect with ourselves a little and recognize some of those experiences, it may help us to use it in our own personal development or to be able to overcome obstacles. Based on my personal experience, I would say that you have to keep on going and doing, testing and searching, staying active without thinking too much, but just going for it. Making sure you’re true to yourself, doing what feels real deep inside, away from trends and influences that don’t necessarily belong to you. Searching for your own reasons, personal interests and concerns through your life experience, paying attention to your roots and culture. Analyzing
what’s around you and translating things in your own personal way.
…But hey… Who am I to give advice!?
Do whatever makes you feel out of this world.

Photo Courtesy: Von Bartha | Ricardo Alcaide.

Website: Ricardo Alcaide