Five questions to Paulo Canilhas

Five questions to Paulo Canilhas

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Paulo Canilhas was born in Almada, Portugal, in 1969. He studied art and design at AR.CO - Center for Art and Visual Communication - Lisbon. Right from the early stages of his career, he demonstrated a penchant for using a diverse range of materials and techniques. In 2014, he worked as an assistant curator, a role that enriched his experience and deepened his understanding of the art market. His work focuses on the observation and analysis of human relationships between the individual and the society that surrounds him. Currently, he lives in Vale Milhaços, near Lisbon, Portugal, where he develops his artistic work.How did you get into art?

It will certainly sound like a cliché, but there is no other way to say it, from a very early age I felt an undeniable attraction to drawing and crafts. I discovered that it was in this area that I felt very comfortable and I gave strength to this path. The praise and positive encouraging comments during school were also important, and, by the end of high school, I was already taking this activity very seriously and never stopped until now.

How would you describe your style? What makes your art special?

Conceptual. Throughout my journey, I have gone through many styles of work, almost as many as there are art movements.

Naturally, I changed over time, with my age and the accumulated experience. In the beginning, I clung to the wise old icons of movements like cubism and surrealism, but over time and with maturity, those connections were broken, making way for something I consider more personal. It was a process that was part of my growth and the search for an identity (and I'm still searching...).

Currently, rather than choosing a specific movement or style, I prefer to keep a wide range of options open, which "allows" me to maintain a good diversity of fields of action, ranging from abstract painting to photography, installation, and more recently, performance art.

I prioritize the CONCEPT first, and then I choose from all the mediums the one that best suits to representing it.

What makes my work special? I guess that, if there is something special about my work, this diversity of mediums may be one of the main reasons.How do you go about developing your work?

I'm not particularly disciplined when it comes to sticking to routines. I work hard, but I don't adhere to a regular schedule. I prefer to work from the late afternoon until early morning. If I were to describe a typical schedule, I would say that my favorite working hours fall between 5 pm and 4 am. It's during the night that I experience the most productive and fulfilling moments. Even if I work throughout the day, it's invariably at night when things really start to take shape.

I enjoy being seated in the center of my studio, listening to music or podcasts on various topics while contemplating the bases of upcoming pieces. I create a mental image of what I intend to accomplish, following the theme or concept I'm developing, and then I execute it. I appreciate that, most of the time, the outcome is different from what I initially envisioned and that is when I get surprised and satisfied with this activity.

As a rule, I can't work on a single piece, I always prefer to work in multiples that then give rise to collections with very strong graphic and aesthetic relationships between them. 

In addition to the creative aspect, there is also crucial administrative work that demands attention. This includes organizing exhibitions, managing the website and social media, or preparing photographs of my work to send to galleries, collectors, or, as in this case, to for this interview. There's always a substantial workload, around the clock and at any time of day.Who or what influences you? 

I am influenced by everything around me, the books I read, the music, and even my family and friends, but primarily, I am influenced by people who innovate and set themselves apart through their work.

What are you planning to do next?

I intend to continue nurturing my creative diversity, aiming to strengthen internationalization and allocate more space to performance as a powerful and solid medium of conveying the message of the themes chosen for my future exhibitions.Instagram