Aldo Chaparro / interview
[Kwon] What was the initial motivation for folding and crumpling the metal sheets, which is characteristic of your works?
[Chaparro] My interest on reflecting surfaces has been with me since the beginning. The seduction that emanates from a reflecting object, in most cases can't be compared with anything. I kind of pushed that limit on myself when I added the electrostatic paint to the steel. It's a really flexible coat, so it allows me to paint the steel before I bend it. The colors I use are transparent. You can see the steel shine through the color. On the other hand, mirrors have always been quite intriguing for me. Jorge Luis Borges said that mirrors were terrifying objects. We just can't see it because we're accustomed to their presence. Plus, I´ve always been interested on the work of Robert Morris and Michaelangelo Pistoletto. On both cases, the reflection and the mirror play a key role: they function as goggles that allow us to experience reality on a parallel way. Jean Cocteu said mirrors should think it twice before mirroring an image. But the ways in which mirrors reflect, on both senses, are a lot. Perhaps my favorite is the one that Octavio Paz made around the work of Sor Juana, while explaining her concepts of shadow, reflection, and echo. For him, in the work of Sor Juana, the function of mirrors and portraits is also a philosophy and a morality. The mirror is the agent of transmutation of infantile narcissism. It's the transit from auto-erotism to her self-contemplation: using a process analog to lecture that turns reality into signs; the mirror transforms the body into a simulation. By the reflecting power, the body becomes simultaneously visible but untouchable. The eyes triumph over the sense of touch.
[Kwon] Where do you usually gain inspiration for the strong, intense phrases shown in your works?
[Chaparro] I guess it somehow connected to the years I worked as the publisher of CELESTE and Baby Baby Baby, and my music and film taste. The deal is that my work operates on several levels that change with the viewer and text somehow catalyses this. Some people only see the object as bright and colourful, or they read just a phrase. Some laugh with me and that is where my act of subversion brews. My decision to work with the periphery of art, like marketing, music, design, architecture, and my work as a publisher, has to do with how the center of 21st century art has become sterile. It’s a place too difficult to access. Art is talking about art for small elite, which often does not even understand it. If we want to find new ways to communicate and have a broader vision, then we have to diversify channels. I have no problem working with marketing. Basically because my work is a little bit about that.
[Kwon] I see that the images of Greek sculptures are printed on some of your steel works. Could that be interpreted as your interest on tradition and its appropriation?
[Chaparro] They definitely are. An artist must be a mirror. A mirror of his contemporary, and also a mirror image of the affairs from the historical moment that he or she lives in. I believe the Greeks aren't as far as they seem from the phrases I use on my work. They existed on very different eras, but today they're both part of our popular culture. Pop culture has the ability to flood all the corners of our daily life. And it’s impossible for any other kind of culture to keep up with Pop. Everyone knows something about the Greeks, and everyone knows something about The Beatles. Even if you oppose to it or try to disconnect yourself from it, you can surely hum a song by Michael Jackson, and I bet you’ve seen quite a lot of pictures of Madonna. You can’t just despise such a great power just because it’s made for the masses. The sixth album by Depeche Mode stated that, they even named the tour Tour for the Masses.
I work a lot around music. Our musical taste is always shaped on our post-adolescence. In some way, one even lives its aesthetics. For me the aesthetic of the 80’s was the one of the Memphis Group and Ettore Sottsass. Much people do not know that almost all the design, fashion, and architecture from those years are variations of Memphis’ designs. Memphis happened when design got tired of the form follows function dogma. Memphis’ arbitrary objects, its illogical components, and its alleged function, were a delightful and non-sense indulgence. I’ve always identified myself with it.
[Kwon] Your works that involve the dripping of the paint on the canvas is very interesting. What is the formative relationship between your paintings and sculpture pieces?
[Chaparro] It has to do a lot with actionism, and also with working with my body. The works are all about letting the piece happen. I do not have complete control on my works on steel. As I bend them, they are the ones that set the direction of the folds. I only apply the force of my body to them. They're all unconventional self portraits. The same happens with the drippings. I just throw the paint, and as it lands on a surface it completes itself. That happens on my burned wooden sculptures too. I make some cuts with my chainsaw and then I set the sculpture on fire. The shape changes, the wood opens, and it manages to reach certain levels that I cannot reach.
[Kwon] Your works have been featured in numerous fashion and interior design magazines. Have you collaborated any projects with design companies? Or are you planning to?
[Chaparro] Yes I do. I'm making bended steels that are painted with BMW colors in partnership with BMW Grupo Bavaria in Mexico. I've also done some works with BMW hoods. The opening of Mexico's 2014 Mercedes Benz which was Alejandro Carlin's runway featured one of my freestanding steel sculptures, and M de Phocas in NYC made cufflinks and necklace with my sculpture PUTA. I have lots of upcoming projects. I love to do collaborations with designers. While art is usually conceived as a definite, design and architecture aren’t. Every work of design is conceived knowing that it can and will be improved. It’s also much more honest. If one day a mug you’ve used for years breaks, you throw it to the garbage and get another one. The idolatry of works of art is the result of the market’s intentions to transform certain objects, so they can acquire a value that’s completely out of proportions.
Image courtesy of Aldo Chaparro Studio
This interview was published in bob Magazine Vol. 120 (July 2014) pp.126-131