Welcome back to IX.Pieces where I showcase nine different pieces from different artists around the world. I am honored to be featuring Diogo Machado aka Add Fuel. Diogo is from Lisbon, Portugal and I had the pleasure of meeting him in my hometown during the Sacramento Mural Festival. Luckily for me Diogo happen to be painting my building! Diogo is an accomplished graphic designer and illustrator. Most recently he has redirected his attention to reinterpreting the language of traditional tile design. This is apparent in his larger than life murals down to his more intricate pieces. Check out my interview with Diogo and take a look a his beautiful pieces that he has selected for us!
Welcome Diogo! First, can you tell us about these 9 pieces you have chose to share with us?
Hey Shawn. Thanks for the invite for this feature, it’s a great pleasure to share this with you guys. I collected some of my most recent works and also some older favourites. I’m sharing with you guys quite a few walls I did in different places and a couple of ceramic pieces I do in my studio.
Your illustrations and your mural work are really different. Can you talk about how you balance your studies and work flow between the two different styles?
Actually my illustration work is the base, the core for my mural work. They are symbiotic I would say. All the mural and pattern work I do, I base them in my illustration universe. The elements inside the patterns and the big characters that stand out from the mural paintings they are also worked in a the same style I draw my illustrations. So, yeah even thou they look different, they are actually part of each other.
What inspired you to begin studying traditional tile design, specifically the Portuguese azulejo?
Well I had this project some years ago, back in 2007 or 2008 in my hometown and at the time I felt that I needed to explore something that would connect me as an artist to the place I grew up in, this place so full of ancient history (village city of Cascais). So I came up with this idea of including my illustration universe in a typically tradicional portuguese art. I did some experiences and the tile work seemed to be the one where I had more options to further explore. So yeah, I did that one project, where a big tile-like illustration covered the train station building in my city and man, I loved it and I felt that I needed to explore that more. So I checked out some ceramic techniques and took the dust of some of the stencil experiences I had in the studio and yeah, it kinda grew from there.
You have created murals all around the world. Can you talk about how the different cities inspire your work that you create there?
It’s always interesting (and a challenge) for me to travel and paint in other cities and countries. I always feel that what I do, what I paint is not for me but to the people that live that particular space of the city once I leave so I always do quite a lot of research about the country and the culture, some stories about the city or the place and I try to include that in the best way I can, so that people can relate to painting, embrace it as part of the community as much as possible. In Australia I did three walls, and all of them included animals from Australia’s super diversified and interesting wild life. The paintings I did in Tunisia all have a strong influence from the beautiful tunisian ceramics and well, for Sacramento I based the painting in the persona of João Rodrigues Cabrilho (or Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, who knows?), who may have been Portuguese, and was the first European to explore the coast of the present state of California. Sometimes the connection is more direct, sometimes is a little more subtle but I need to have these base concepts, and I know (and hope) that people relate to my paintings and nurture them once I leave.
One of the first ceramic pieces I did, based on a 2×2 module to create a 4×4 tile piece (80x80cm ink gel on ceramic, wood mount).
Ceramic piece I did for a collaboration with Nike and the National Portuguese Soccer team. This was photographed and then used as a tshirt graphic for Nike’s official Portugal fan kit of the 2014 Soccer World Cup.
I painted this powerbox in Praça de S.Paulo in Lisbon.
AVARINA mural for MURALIZA in Cascais, Portugal. Built in the 1960’s, the Torre neighbourhood was originally designed as a suburb to relocate fishermen and their families that inhabited the center of the village. Today it has more than 30 buildings, but many of it’s original inhabitants and families still reside in there. Usually the wives of fishermen, the “varinas” sold fresh fish brought home by their husbands. With my work around the ceramic “azulejo” tiles I try to bring tradition and Portuguese culture to the present, preserve it, re-think it, but varinas are, unfortunately, a dying tradition, a dying profession. Shortly after I started this mural, I was told that on this exact same wall, forty something years ago there was a varina called Helena that sold fish right there, in front of this wall. Happy coincidences.
COMVIDA Mural for MURO Festival in Lisbon, Portugal. ’Invitation figures’ (figuras de convite) are cut-out panels of azulejos with life-size figures (footmen, noblemen or elegantly dressed ladies), usually placed in entrances of palaces. Widely used in the 18th and 19th centuries, their purpose was to welcome visitors. They can only be found in Portugal. The old area of Bairro Padre Cruz, where I painted this mural, is one of the most real and portuguese places I’ve had the pleasure to experience. I felt like I needed to create a welcoming experience.
DARKLESS (or “the one way transition moving into the depth of one’s soul”). Painting in Maranola’s Cemetery. Formia, Italy.
Djerbahood transformed the village of Erriadh into an open air museum with the contribution of around 150 artists from 30 countries.
NATUREALEZA URBANA: FLIPPED mural for Muros Tabacalera in Madrid, Spain. Portugal and Spain have a strong relationship that dates back from centuries ago. “FLIPPED” celebrates these two vey similar and at the same time very different cultures. The “azulejos” (tiles) are part of both our cultures but applied and used in different ways and chromatics. During the 17th century King Felipe IV was the ruler of Portugal and Spain. Based on a painting by Peter Paul Rubens this is my re-interpretation of the king’s portrait but, well… flipped (hurray for word play!)
RODRIGUES/Z mural for Sacramento Mural Festival, in Sacramento, USA. In 1542, Portuguese-born João Rodrigues Cabrilho (or Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, who knows?), who may have been Portuguese, was the first European to explore the coast of the present state of California. I felt a connection. Alongside the patterned “tile work”, I felt I needed to explore this personality in this specific mural.