Alexandre Prado – Artist

Alexandre Prado lives in Castlemaine VIC and has been making Visual Art professionally for the past 10 years. You can check out his website here.

What are the main medium/s you work in…
I work across different mediums and I am always curious about experimenting with new, often organic, materials. My main mediums are digital photography, video, sculpture (object based), and installation art.

Artist’s statement…
My practice explores themes that are concerned with the human condition and relationships with the natural and built environment. My work deals with micro-macro relationships that occur in nature. By removing objects from the natural environment and displaying them in constructed spaces, the work questions the status of these objects and our perceptions of the natural world. I work across a variety of media including video, photography, sculpture and installation art and I am influenced by ecology, sustainability and Zen Buddhism.

Does your work have social, political, cultural and or personal messages?
Well, I wouldn’t call them messages, but there are issues that I am passionate about which inspire me and inform my practice. If I had to narrow down to a key issue or concept, what I am most interested is how people in western industrialized countries have increasingly become separate from nature – which to me is a fundamental problem. Perhaps a problem that has led to where we are at, at this point in time and the challenges this planet is facing. Having said that, I don’t believe my art is all that serious and certainly not only about convening concepts, but also about exploring new ideas, materials and different mediums in a playful and experimental manner. I hope viewers are able to identify the playfulness in my practice.

What are you currently working on?
A series of drawings as well as continue to build “The Smallest of Things” series, creating landscape images with photographs of recent installations with moss.

What fascinates you?
Everything in this planet is interconnected and I am very interested in how small things play a part on the big picture. Lets look at bees for example; one third of all our food—fruits and vegetables—would not exist without pollinators visiting flowers. While there might be “survival of the fittest” within a given species, each species depends on the services provided by other species to ensure survival. It is a type of cooperation based on mutual survival and is often what a “balanced ecosystem” refers to.

There is a famous ancient zen saying that goes like this: “There is nothing bigger in this world than the tip of an autumn hair”. Apparently, hair grows thinner in autumn and the tip of an autumn hair was refereed in ancient Japan as being the smallest thing you could find.

Now give us a more descriptive outline on your current works.
A friend once told me that the line left on the sand when waves recede echoes the shape of its coastline.  Though I questioned its veracity, it was a good story that ignited curiosity, then research.  My attention, once held by macro landscape views, was now captured by the earth’s minutiae.  In micro soil patterns I saw aerial photos of landscapes and Google earth images. This led to an obsession with documenting, photographing, carving out and collecting these small squares of nature. In the gallery space, framed and contained, nature is positioned perpendicular to itself.

Your art education was…?
I have done a Bachelor of Fine Arts at RMIT, majoring in Sculpture. But I am also qualified Social Worker and I work part time in the community sector with refugee communities.

Was your education helpful, or a hindrance?
It was helpful because I was a mature age student and a practicing artist, and I knew exactly what I wanted to get out of the course.

Have you always been interested in art?
Yes, since I was a child I have always been interested in seeing and making art. Creativity has always been part of my life.

What did you do before or during becoming an artist?
I am originally from Brazil, Sao Paulo but I was living, working and studying in Europe in my early 20s. I lived initially in England and then Holland, and Scandinavia; and I also did a lot of traveling whilst in Europe.

What is your earliest memory of art?
Going to the Sao Paulo Biennale as a child. I was fascinated by the installations and remembering ‘entering’ what to me felt like dreaming worlds.


Did the place where you grew up have an influence?
I think that my past in Brazil will always influence who I am and the art that I make. Culture is a very powerful and complex framework that can shape who we are and how we interact with the outside world. And certainly growing up in a concrete jungle like Sao Paulo where earth is so far removed from people’s realities, has influenced my practice and choices of materials.

Having said that, I am also a firm believer that we are all individuals and gender, class, ethnicity, political and spiritual beliefs – to name a few – also influence who I am and what I make. I have been fortunate to live in different countries and experience different cultures; which has made me question some of the values from where I come from as well as values from Australia. In a way, it has been a great and rich process that enabled me to embrace the values I agree with, and let go of others that I don’t want in my life. This is an ongoing process by the way.

Has your work changed much since your early efforts?
Absolutely. When I was at university even though I was experimenting and creating interesting and challenging works, there was an element of trying to please my lecturers and show them how “clever” I was. I think now I am much more true to concepts that I am interested , the process and materials I chose. I feel that my art is more grounded now, and hopefully there is less of an attention seeking element there.

You know you are successful in Visual Arts when…
You are happy with what you are making, know who is your audience, what are your motives for making art, and your art challenges who you are and continually pushes you to reinvent what you do. But most important, you haven’t lost the key ingredient (in my opinion) in art making – playfulness.

Does the “creative process” happen easily for you?
Ideas come up easily since I don’t feel like I am reinventing the wheel. One work leads to another and I try not to steer away from the ideas that inspire and motivate me. Having said that, the actual process of developing and resolving a body of work is far from easy, but incredibly challenging, demanding and consuming – but very exciting!

Creative streaks do they come in waves for you?
No, they are always there. But time to explore these creative streaks come in waves, since I am not able to fully support myself through art, have another profession as well as a family to support.

How important is the clarity of concept to you, prior to starting an artwork?
To me that’s absolutely critical. I have lots of ideas, materials and techniques that I would like to explore, but since, as I mentioned above, my time is limited, I feel that I have to be very clear and strategic about why and what I am exploring.

Do you have much contact with other artists?
Yes, contact with other artist is very important to me. I chose to live in Castlemaine because it has a large community of artists, writers and musicians. Also, because it’s not too far from Melbourne where I have another community of artists/friends. It is crucial for me to be surrounded and supported by people who are committed and engaged in the creative process. Not only in terms of discussing ideas and getting and giving feedback, but also in terms of validating my entire existence. An existence that is often uncertain and with financial constraints.

Working towards an exhibition, is it a daunting task?
Not daunting exactly, but the pressure can be very demanding, challenging and energy consuming. However, I get a buzz from deadlines and the pressure of putting yourself out there, coming up with work that’s interesting and engaging and being mindful of the self that wants to be acknowledged and hopes for some financial gain. Not that there is anything wrong with financial gain, quite the opposite, but you don’t want that to be driving the work.

What happens to works that “don’t work out”?
Well, hopefully they won’t get exhibited! But they are very important pieces of the puzzle. I have to monitor constantly the Alexandre that wants to always come up with works that “work out”, and constantly try to bring myself back to a state of play and to be process driven rather than driven by outcomes.

Do you hope the viewer will “get” what you are trying to communicate or do you feel compelled to spell it out to them?
I try to stay away from prescriptive work or “didactic” work. I often find it hard to write about my work and even resent to some extend that we have to do that nowadays. In my opinion a “good” work of art is multilayered, subjective and engages the viewers in various ways.