“Figurations” by Marcelo Daldoce
May 24th – August 31st, 2018
Online Solo Exhibition
For over 15 years, Brazilian painter Marcelo Daldoce has worked in watercolor, capturing the diversity and beauty of the human form. His unique skill, raw style and variety of human subjects infuse his works with a contemporary vitality. Daldoce’s work is currently featured in an online-only exhibition presented by The Untitled Space exclusively on Artsy. We chatted with the New York-based artist about his process, influences and choice of subject matter.
What inspires you to work in watercolor over other mediums?
Any other medium is predictable. When you paint with oil or acrylic, whatever you use on your palette and put on the canvas is always the same. Watercolor is unpredictable—it all depends on the amount of water, the angle of the paper, the humidity, the temperature. You deal with gravity, with nature and with an element of surprise.
Do you find your childhood in Brazil has affected your artistic voice?
It’s been affecting my voice more as I question my path and identity. There’s this saying among Brazilians that we are three races: we are European, we are African and we are Native Indians. We are a country without an identity, because we are everybody.
What brought you to New York City?
I came here thirty years ago to study English, and then I worked in illustration. I painted some things for fun, a couple of nude figures, and when I went back to Brazil with those works—8 foot by 4 foot paintings—I sold them. I didn’t have any idea that I should be an artist. I was just like, “I’m fine, I’m an illustrator and I’m going to be working in advertising forever.” When I sold those paintings, I began to plan the switch from being an illustrator to being a fine artist and developing my personal work.
What about the human form inspires you?
I like the diversity—it’s skinny, its fat, it’s brown, it’s black, it’s white. I like painting people who are comfortable with their body. At the beginning of my career, I worked for Playboy Magazine painting pinup girls. Now, I’m more interested in unconventional bodies and beauty. The beauty standard is changing and becoming broader—you can see it with new advertising; more people are embracing their bodies. I like the fact that I can translate that diversity into my watercolors.
Yes, the diversity in your work is apparent. How do you cast your models?
I don’t have a specific way, I just never repeat. The goal is to always paint someone different.
I understand you only paint from live models. Why do you prefer that to working from a photo?
Watercolor is a medium that you must work with quickly. You are interpreting, you are suggesting—you are allowing the pigments to travel on the paper. That gives the medium a life. When you work from photos, you can spend hours and hours on the picture. That takes away that freshness, because you tend to overwork and you lose the spontaneity. Working from a live model as the clock is ticking, you must be fast. You must make your decisions less self-consciously.
You definitely have a fluid, raw style. Can you describe your technique and what has influenced your work?
My hero is John Singer Sargent. He was a portrait artist for the bourgeoise. It’s my belief that there was an escape in his work—his escape was watercolor. He was making his money and his fame painting super-rich people. But I believe his best work is his watercolors, because that’s when he freed himself. I work from an angle—from a 90 to 60 degree angle—and I start from the top, bringing the pigment down. I don’t paint; I just guide the pigment. With other mediums, you use your brush on canvas, and you are creating a layer. With watercolor, you are actually doing the opposite. You’re just letting pigment sink into the paper.
Your work was featured in The Untitled Space exhibit SHE INSPIRES, a show on inspirational women. Do you think it’s important for male artists to respond to feminism?
I was raised in a household where my mother was the alpha figure. From birth, I was raised in a house where male and female was the same. Naturally, I see myself as a feminist. It was good to see my mother always having her voice heard. That’s what I try to preach in my life with my relationships and the people around me.