Exploring a wide range of both manual and digital techniques in the fields of drawing, painting, ceramics, and printing, the practice of the Portuguese artist Add Fuel expresses a sophisticated dialogue between the old and the new, between heritage and modernity. Fascinated with the aesthetic possibilities of symmetrical patterning and tessellations, he reinterprets the language of the traditional tile design, in particular, the Portuguese tin-glazed ceramic azulejo.
The artist is currently showing his latest body of work at Galerie Itinerrance, in his first solo show in Paris. In an exhibition titled Deuxième Désintégration, the artist continues to explore Désintégration, a theme he first developed during his first project with the gallery in 2013. Decontextualising traditional motifs, Add Fuel explores his cultural roots while giving them a new life.
When he first rose to prominence, Add Fuel created a dark yet exuberant visual universe populated by a cast of slimy, eccentric and joyful creatures, influenced by a variety of interests, ranging from games to comics, animation, sci-fi, low-budget B films, designer toys, and urban visual culture. Through his current practice, he has been blending traditional decorative elements with contemporary visual referents into new forms that reveal an impressive complexity and masterful attention to detail. His small- and medium-sized tile panels, large-scale stencil-painted murals, and print editions open up a chaotic world of unequivocally original motifs and characters imbued with irony and humor.
The artist's multi-layered patterned compositions are imbued with a balance and harmony from symmetrical repetitions, producing a poetic rhythm that plays with the viewer's perception and multiple possibilities of interpretation. His work is a truly sophisticated dialogue between heritage and modernity.
In the latest body of work, Add Fuel continues to play with the audience’s sense of sight and expectation, whilst disintegrating the square tile element into several new shapes and compositions.
Built with a set of visual references drawn from the artist's imagination, this body of work features large and small-scale compositions which typify Add Fuel’s original language based on combining artisanal methods with industrial and digital processes of production.
An artist who has been involved in numerous public art interventions in various countries and has also been showcasing his work in solo and group exhibitions in reputed galleries, Add Fuel describes his practice as “twisted tradition and cultural heritage with a twist.”
We, as a collective set of people, must remember where we come from, we can look into the past, to our father’s fathers, learn, reshape, look into the future, and evolve.
The exhibition Deuxième Désintégration will be on view at Galerie Itinerrance in Paris until June.
Featured image: Work by Add Fuel (detail). All images courtesy Galerie Itinerrance.