Interview with Nuno Viegas for ‘Yard Romance’

Thinkspace is proud to debut Yard Romance from Portuguese artist Nuno Viegas.

Nuno presents us with a contrast between the visually aggressive and sometimes dirty reality of traditional graffiti and its peaceful and clean representation in his works. The approach to this theme is a continuous tribute to all those who dedicate part of their lives to this scene. Graffiti Writers who keep it real and alive in a time where the definition of graffiti tends to get blurred and mixed with street art.

In anticipation of Yard Romance, our interview with Nuno Viegas discusses what makes a good art collaboration, his love of technique, and the positive sides of the graffiti scene.

What is the inspiration behind this latest body of work and ‘Yard Romance’?

The main focus of my body of work for the last years has been the graffiti scene. Graffiti shaped my life and I keep evoking its elements in my work while paying a constant tribute to all the graff writers out there. I have huge respect for this scene and consider this way of life inspiring besides all the negativity associated with it. Even though graffiti can be visually agressive, dirty and disturbing to a lot of people I consider it carries many values humanity should be aware of and look up to. Values like brotherhood, teamwork, dedication, loyalty,  passion, equality, amongst others, while having fun and living the moment pumped by adrenaline – to FEEL ALIVE! Graffiti only disturbs people who don’t like it, It doesn’t hurt anyone. The only “donwside” I see to it is the fact that if you don’t like it and you wish to clean it up, you will need to spend money to do so and sometimes people are trapped in a position where they have to pay for it even if they don’t want to or can’t afford to – for example if you live in a condo and all of a sudden you have a massive condo bill to pay for maintenance of the building. That’s why I always avoided painting in private spots. But hey nothing is perfect in life!

This is not graffiti!

Do you have a pre-studio ritual that helps you tap into a creative flow?

Nothing specific. Ideas come in very spontaneously at any given moment of the day – literally at any time. Once I grab one idea the ritual is nearly always the same. Translate the idea into a photography, manipulate the photo, prepare the canvas and then paint it.

What was the most challenging piece in this show, and why?

Definitely “Writer II”! The red! It is always the red that is the hardest to paint! 

I never really had painting classes and most of the knowledge I acquired was shared by other artists (thank you all – that’s university!). Because of this I created my own way of painting, by trial and error, and maybe I’m doing something wrong or taking a longer course to achieve my results. Basically I like to paint with fully opaque colors where I’m able to go back and forward with tones, one over the other as I need to adjust then – In resemblance to spray paint, if something is incorrect you just spray over and it’s done. With acrylic paint, red and yellow are never fully opaque and when I use these tones I always struggle to get it done. If I add dark red in the wrong spot it will take me forever before I can get a brighter red over it. The translucent paint can be a major advantage for many painters, I just didn’t get a full grip on it yet. Because of this I have tried many different brands looking after the best cadmiums. I hope in the future someone comes up with a good cadmium hue without the nocive metals and with great opacity features. Liquitex has done some fine developments in this field in the last years, maybe they will refine their products even better.

Even though it was the most challenging piece it is one of my favorites and the one that carries the biggest feeling of personal achievement.

As an artist who is familiar with collaborating with other artists on pieces, what do you think makes a good collaboration and collaborator?

First of all the vibe between the artists. Egos aside and the will to produce something great! So far all my collabs have been suuuper smooth! Quite easy to find a midway between both artists and production flowing very well. I consider it is very important to know the other artist personally and it needs to be someone you relate to and click with, these are the main ingredients for me, no matter how far away you are stylewise.

Do you work on multiple pieces at a time, or are you a one canvas kind of artist? What is your most and least favorite part of the creative process?

Usually I work on one piece at a time. Unless I’m painting similar pieces with the same color palette. Even so I always end up focusing more on one piece than the other. Especially on the final stage of the painting where I need full focus on what I’m doing. The final stage is also my favorite, when all details come alive and it all starts to spark!

You were a part of the beautiful piece by Akut, “We Are One Infinite, Living Mind (Isolated pt.II) that speaks to this very strange time we find ourselves in due to a global pandemic. What are some ways you’re creating a sense of normalcy (or even joy) in life right now?

I tend to keep politics and religion away from my work. I agree that artists have a huge role in portraying these events but I don’t consider it mandatory. In the graffiti scene I’ve always seen people coming together no matter what their roots and traditions are, I believe it is a place where we all come together in peace and equality in order to pursue what we are passionate about. That positive side about the graffiti scene is the energy I put into my paintings.

What elements in other artists’ work draw you in and excites you? 

Technique is definitely something that triggers my attention. Seeing other artists work which I consider technically better than mine is always pleasant and exciting. A constant reminder of what is possible to do and that there is always room for improvement.  Besides that, creativity, the concepts artists come up with and then the way they materialize them. No matter what style they practice. I can be fully inspired by a cartoon artist even though I paint more towards hyperrealism. Even by a photographer, a sculptor, a performance artist, a musician… Creators in general will always have my attention and trigger me to produce more and better work.

What would be your ultimate festival line up of five musical artists, dead or alive? What kind of food truck would be onsite?

That’s hard to pick a line up… Lets say Nas, Boot Camp Clik, Wu tang Clan, M.O.P. and Kodigo 03 (homies from my hometown – Quarteira). The food truck… It would be a several day festival right?! Well definitely and italian pizza truck and a barbecue truck… and because the ultimate festival is by the beach there would be fresh fish from the atlantic ocean available at the barbecue stand!

If your body of work inspired a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream flavor, what would be the ingredients and name of your pint? 

Damn the hard ones come last hein?! Ben & Jerry’s flavor inspired by my work… Honestly, I don’t know… Color wise it would have to be subtle and not so punchy… definitely not a berry thing… Maybe coconut, vanilla, cinnamon, nuts, somewhere in around those flavors. But if it was just my call, nothing to do with my work I would pick pistachio with pistachio crumbles. Simple, suuuper tasty but it would look green, a color I don’t like to paint with and you won’t see too evident in my work. For the pint, I would probably pick coca-cola.

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