Exclusive interview with Paulo Amsel – Designer & Visual Artist
Paulo Amsel was born in 1962 in Santarem, in central Portugal. He conducts classic studies of Traditional Tiles and Law. Bachelor in Interior Design and General Equipment. Degree in Design. Master in Theory of Visual Communication. Secondary school teacher, teaching, Design Theory, Art History, Materials and Techniques of Plastic Expression, Artistic Heritage, Visual Education and Descriptive Geometry. Plastic artist in the area of Drawing and Painting, holds exhibitions in Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, Italy and the United Kingdom. Portuguese representative at the Ateliers of Florence, at Cenacolo di Ognissanti, during the Summit of Heads of State and Government of the European Union. Currently exclusively dedicated to Plastic Arts, working in partnership with Portuguese, Italian and English galleries. It will be the subject of a report in the number 12, of July 2020 of the English Artisttalk Magazine. With ACD Print, a hardcover bilingual book is being prepared, and it will compile the work developed in the last 20 years.
NY Glam: Graduated in Design, and post graduated in Visual Communication, can you tell us more?
PA: Well, my academic path actually started with Law. My father considered that studying art was not an actual option for a prosper future, therefore I studied Law for three years and then dropped out. Law, definitely, was not the right fit for me. The following year I began studying Design and General Equipment in Lisbon, which was still not exactly what I aspired, however it was the only degree that did not require the study of Mathematics… Nevertheless, the study of color, shape, experimental design, art history, gave me a tremendous pleasure and opened the doors of the vast world of the Arts to me. Followed by a ceramics course that explored the making and painting of the traditional Portuguese tiles and, later on, a postgraduate degree in Visual Communication.
After concluding my studies, I started working as a Visual Arts teacher and, in parallel, began a career as a Visual Artist, which was my main objective. I did some small projects in Portugal and Switzerland and opened a business of Interior Design and Decoration, however, still not focused in my actual passion. In addition, I began coordinating artistic and educational projects for UNESCO in Portugal, Spain, France, and Italy, as well as, some projects in partnership with the Cape Verde Republic. I had my first individual exhibition in Lisbon, while I was still working as a teacher, that displayed about 50 of my artworks. Even though, I was working as a teacher and an artist concurrently, I couldn’t stop feeling that my teaching career overpowered my artistic one, that it consumed the majority of my time and that it didn’t allow me to dedicate the time and attention my artistic career deserved… Currently, I am grateful enough to say that I work exclusively as a Visual Artist and focus solely on my passion. Ever since, I have had exhibitions in Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Greece and in the United Kingdom.
NY Glam: In what general area of design do you work or wish to work?
PA: Regarding my background in Design, during my degree, I studied in depth the classic and model drawing, the study of color, as well as, drawing and painting techniques. I believe that to have been the starting point for numerous individual explorations within the field of Visual Arts for me.
For some time, I worked on some interior design and decoration project, however, they were never particularly relevant for me. My main interest as always been in the Visual Arts, namely drawing and painting, and it was in that sense that I have always focused my interest and work.
NY Glam: What are your goals as a designer?
PA: Even though my initial training is in Design, I never really positioned myself as a designer, but actually as a Visual Artist. A Visual Artist, above all, has to be a designer in order to be capable to observe its surroundings and, analyze and interpret reality.
My intention as a Visual Artist, is to tell stories, to offer different visual realities, as well as, create new and personal perspectives of my surroundings. I believe that I intend to create an alternative and projective reality, allowing space for the viewers – if they want – project their own reality of what they are observing, while adapting my own reality to theirs. Thus creating a new, personal and independent reading, that can be transversal and provide a new visual and intellectual experience. Furthermore, I enjoy making use of “rejected materials”, such as damaged objects, wood scraps, paper waste, metal capsules, fabrics, amongst others. Where I attempt to give a new life to something that no longer served. By reusing, reducing and recycling these materials, I am inserting them in a new visual context, creating a more sustainable product that, inevitably, offers a small contribution for a more sustainable planet. All in all, I can say that my main goal as a designer is to leave a better world for those who come next.
NY Glam: What does design mean to you?
PA: We live in a world of Design! Design is with us every day, all day; from the moment we get up until the moment we go to bed. Design is present in our most insignificant gestures, situations, attitudes and needs, being responsible for our well-being and for the footprint we leave in our planet. Today, more than ever, Design plays an important and decisive role on the preservation of our habitat by undoing mistakes done under its name.
Today, that we are on the verge of reaching a point of no return, Design means to me the radical change of attitudes towards the planet. Design can be the stepping stone towards the necessary change on the way we produce and consume, by reducing, recycling and reusing what already exists. Therefore, creating sustainable and ecologic alternatives, and ensuring that the passing of human generations across the planet are proactive, promoting happiness, biodiversity and sustainable continuity. As a result, Design can and should be the word for change.
NY Glam: Can you tell us more about your carrer as a Visual Artist?
PA: To be honest with you, there is not much more to say. However, I can add that I have never looked for notoriety or recognition, I appreciate calm and tranquility. I am extremely reflective and introspective, and most of all, I want to be honest with myself and convey that through my work. Sometimes, I would like to be more “modern” and in-line with new contemporary art trends. However, if I would do so, I wouldn’t be true to myself and even less to others.
My career has had ups and downs, as everything else in life. Nevertheless, it has been consistent and according to my standards. The only thing I can hope for it is to keep bringing me creative freedom and allowing me to express and expose what is inside of me. If so happens, I can say that, little by little, I will be able to reach my goals and fulfill my dreams.
NY Glam: How would you describe your style?
PA: Saying that I have a style sounds to me slightly pretentious. My work is nothing more than stories represented on paper and by working through series, I able to make a more circular reading of the subject addressed. Moreover, despite my classical artistic training, I never made use of the aesthetic canons was taught, having kept them inside a “big chest”, that I look back into whenever I need. However, never subjecting me to what is inside. I guess I might be too baroque, as I like textures, curved lines and to mix techniques. I do not appreciate realistic or photographic representations, as I believe that drawing or painting should convey our mental vision of surroundings. Thus, giving that type of painting to those who dream of being virtuous, but never an artist. Therefore, my “style” is free, colorful, projective and independent. It reflects who I am, what torments me and, last but not least, what I believe in.
NY Glam: Describe your biggest accomplishment to date?
PA: I can say that the biggest accomplishment of my life has been the fact that I allowed drawing and painting to become my way of living and the main reason to my path to happiness. Without my work, I do not exist! Without my work, I am nothing!
Professional success is indeed important, but not decisive to me. It is nice to get some recognition, to be invited to participate in international artistic events, however, it is so much more important my emotional well-being and my creative freedom. In addition, my head is full of “things” that, unfortunately, I will not be able to do for the most part of it. I would need another lifetime, or even two to be able to accomplish everything that is on my mind.
NY Glam: What skills are important for a successful career in design and Visual Art?
PA: Success, from my point of view, is a very relative concept. However, for something like that to happen in life, it is indispensable a paramount sense of truth, hard work, perseverance, some luck and a huge desire to be free.
NY Glam: What are your favorite stores for inspiration?
PA: Undoubtedly, life itself!
That is where I get my strength from, as well as, my references. It is life who teaches me the stories I tell, as well as, who is in charge of dictating my path. It is in life that I trust and by what I am inspired. It is life who forces me to carry on walking.
NY Glam: Tells us about some of your recent exhibitions. What memorable responses have you had to your work?
PA: I recently had two exhibitions in Italy, one in Milan and another in Genova, as well as, one in Greece, Athens. In regards to the receptivity of my work, it has been very pleasant to witness the favorable opinion of those who saw it, as well as, to meet other artists, establish relationships and to be invited to other exhibitions. And I would like to take this opportunity to thank Valentina Maggiol, Maria Stefanou and Grant Milne for their trust and confidence in my work and for all the amazing help and guidance.
NY Glam: What are you currently working on?
PA: Currently, I am working and preparing several different projects. I have recently started a new series of works with a theme that alludes to the archetypes of Hell and Paradise. I am utilizing a recycled wooden support, where a mixed technique of ecolines an Chinese ink is being the technology used. In addition, I am working on a very interesting project with my friend Shourabh from the United States where we are making an interpretation of some of Gustav Klimt most iconic works and where some fellow artists from New Zealand, Canada, Israel, Germany, Spain, UK, etc. are working along with us. In parallel, I am sketching a large format (250cm x 300cm) work, where I will be using oil on canvas. Nevertheless, it is still a work in progress, that requires a lot of time and dedication and many studies to be conducted. So, I am still not very sure how it will turn out.
NY Glam: What influences you? What’s the inspiration behind your art?
PA: All my life I have been a compulsive Art consumer. As I previously mentioned, it is life itself that influences me and dictates the path I have to take. Through this path, I have had the opportunity to travel and meet the works of many artists that I most admire. Even though I do not think my work has any direct influence form the work of other artists, I do find inspiration in the beauty of the work of Anselm Keefer; on the ambiguity and violence of Paulo Rego; the rawness of Jane Saville inactions; the magic colors of Henri Matisse; the elegance of Pascale Simon; all the art of Olivier Cardin; and many others.
NY Glam: What art movement or artist would you say influences your work most?
PA: We are a melting pot of influences. Everything we see leaves an indelible mark on our subconscious. I have always been very attracted by the Baroque period, due to its decorative profusion, its curved and sinuous line, and its exaggeration and opulence. Which aligned with music, opera, theater, architecture, landscaping, painting, and sculpture culminates in a homogeneous whole. Thus, creating the so-called Total Art. In addition to the Baroque, I am extremely impressed and captivated by Contemporary Art which regurgitates strength, novelty, vitality and expressive freedom. Away from the formal or moral codes, where the creative force is not suffocated by the dictates of a conservative and often little informed society. All in all, I believe that I am influenced by so many different 6things, that I have to “digest” them in my own way and, thus, attempt to find and fulfill myself as a person.
NY Glam: What role does the Artist have in Society?
PA: In a world in turmoil, infected by disease and environmental catastrophes, the artist is the voice of conscience. The one that makes us stop and reflect on our actions, as well as, the meaning of life. The artist can be perceived as the link between reality and the endless possibilities of dreams; the attentive and critical look upon society, that proposes different paths and directions, and establishes bridges between what the world is now and what it could be tomorrow. In sum, an artist is a dream maker!
NY Glam: What are you trying to communicate with your art?
PA: First and foremost, I try to express myself, while proposing a different view on reality. I do not like to write a description or explanation, neither to give clues about my work. I like to leave it to the viewers discretion, that through its observation will inevitably, project its own reality. Thus, giving a new and personal meaning to the work and transforming it into a part of themselves.
NY Glam: What can we expect from you this year?
PA: You can expect many new works, new visual proposals, as well as, new readings of reality. Additionally, I have been invited by Art Nordic to participate in their sales and exhibition fair, that is the biggest art fair in the Nordic region. Art Nordic fair will take place in Copenhagen, at Lokomotivvaerkstedet, between the 26th and the 28th of November this year, and to which I invite you all!
NY Glam: Can you share with us three favorite things about your city/culture?
PA: Of course, with pleasure.
I reside in two different places, the city of Santarém in the Ribatejo province, and Castelo de Vide in the Upper Alentejo province, both in central Portugal. Santarem is the city where I grew up, where I most appreciate its proximity to the ocean. Nevertheless, Castelo de Vide is where my heart is… It is a beautiful small Medieval town, full of narrow, old streets. Where you can find old manor houses with beautiful secret gardens, murmuring fountains, big ancient trees and aromatic flowers. I love its beauty and tranquility, something so important for the work I do.
NY Glam: Where can everyone keep up with you to learn more? …social media…website
PA: You can find me on Instagram @PauloAmsel, that is where I am most active. I post daily my works and any upcoming exhibition I am going to have. For purchasing or collaboration enquiries you can Direct Message me on Instagram, or send me an email at pauloamsel@gmail,com. Unfortunatly, I still do not have an official website, nevertheless I am happy to say that it is under construction and it will be up and running on the upcoming months. So that is something very exciting!
Thank you so much.