ADRIANA PROGANÓ

ARTIST

Interview April 16, 2020

You were born in Switzerland, grew up in Porto and studied and lived for several years in Caldas da Rainha, and now you’ve moved to Lisbon. Tell us a bit about your background and your work as an artist.

I didn’t grow up in a family of artists or anything like it. We weren’t rich but my mother pampered me a lot.

I grew up among the rivers and stones, rather than the city. In the city I was a very poor student and they called me very immature. I used to spend my days just dreaming; they said I had my head in the clouds. I don’t remember what I used to dream about all day, but I remember not understanding anything about life out here, nor understanding anything about people or rules. I used to get very afraid of being with adults because I didn’t know the rules about how I should speak and act. I still don’t know today and avoid such confrontations as much as possible. When my mother realised that I had this difficulty she got very frustrated and was always telling me to stop fantasising, that the real world was this and that and so on.

Well, but that same mother who tried to get me to come down to earth was also the mother who imposed nothing on me, let me be what I wanted to be, let me wear princess dresses and stripper shoes to school. She gave me all the freedom to grow relentlessly as I wished. She changed all the flooring in the house from carpet to red brick tiles, so that I could hear the sound of high heels (which I used to pinch from her). She didn’t care at all about what anyone else thought, and of course, I grew up the same.

I was never punished, nor made to follow any rule. I am so grateful to have had such a privileged education.

Privilege of a free spirit.

My process as an artist is very probably a consequence of all that.

I did everything: I danced, wrote, did performance, drew, filmed, did installation…I’m really passionate about playing with art, very much so, I don’t know the explanation but it’s as though everything in the world were candy.

So, I always wanted everything, I wanted all the candy.

Then I went to Venice to live for a year, and chose painting, half by chance, because I hadn’t yet done it

I was lucky to be living with a painter, who gave me a hand and helped me to buy things, and showed me what painting was about, etc.. I had no idea about anything and didn’t even know what I was doing there. I went on an impulse or intuition and curiosity. I’m not sure.

Well, of course as I was in Venice, with nothing to do except learning to paint, I went to thousands of museums around Italy, I went to Berlin and to Paris. I consumed all those museums.

I was eager to see more and get the best I could out of myself.

I came back to Portugal and have continued painting until now.

I still dance and do everything I used to do.. But I paint more than the other things. I really like painting; sometimes I want to paint very difficult things and sometimes I think, you idiot, just paint whatever you feel like.

And that’s the way it’s been; conversations with myself and with them.

“I love reading everything they say, sometimes I’m really amazed how they pick up on things I hadn’t even thought of. And sometimes, I’m like, what? “

Your work conjures up an imaginary world, fantasy and happiness that is almost childlike in the true sense of the word, whilst simultaneously having an overlying humour and critically confronting stereotypes, sexuality and freedom. How do these ideas materialise for you and in your work?

Hmm, I don’t think about those topics and try to materialise them, I don’t intellectualise any idea. If those ideas are true or not, it’s unwitting. I do a number of drawings of funny stuff I enjoy, most of the time the painting ends up very different from the original drawing. Then people interpret all those things you said but they’re merely interpretations. I love reading everything they say, sometimes I’m really amazed how they pick up on things I hadn’t even thought of. And sometimes, I’m like, what? Ahahah.

There are some recurring themes in your painting, such as sport and sexuality. Is there any personal connection for you between the two?

I’ve always thought about games rather than sport. But, yes, I think there must be links to sexuality with almost everything.

But maybe tomorrow I won’t think that any more.

There’s a preference for a certain type of colours in your paintings. What importance does colour play for you?

Ahaha yes, I think sometimes the figures are only there as an excuse for me to play with colours.

But If I can have everything, figures and colours, then I have ahah it makes everything more difficult and I have more fun.

But in fact, that is a very pertinent question. Colours are so important that I even give them characters in the paintings. Like the painting of the twist, I always imagined that it was the colours playing.

Or the puzzles, it’s also the colours that are the characters speaking to each other. Or the painting “very nice guy runs from blue because his heart belongs to yellow” etc.

In the exhibition “BAD BEHAVIUOUOR” at Galeria Boavista, an entire universe was created for us to submerge in, including an art hopscotch and other objects that seemed to come out of your paintings.

Is it important for you to be able to use the entire space as part of your work and do you intend to further explore that aspect of the object or installation as part of your work?

The space is important to see the exhibition. The floor, the wall, the ceiling, the pieces, which help one another to be heard.

You were selected for our 5th residency season at Thirdbase. How did you find out about the residency, and what made you decide to apply?

I’d already seen it several times through Instagram and there was one time I saw it and loved the studio space, and I already wanted to come and live in Lisbon, so I thought, okay, I’ll give it a try. It wasn’t a carefully thought out plan, it was more of an impulse on a gut feeling that it would be good for me.

How have you found the experience at the studio so far?

Incredible. All the conditions that the residency offers are a huge help to be able to work without having to worry at all about anything other than the artistic work itself.

Tell us about the work you’re developing for Thirdbase.

I’m doing some sort of more watery paintings, and that’s already spilling the beans ahah

In view of the current public health emergency situation due to SARS-CoV-2, the studio and residence activities have been suspended. How has it been for you managing your life in this situation of isolation?

How did you adapt to working from home? And how does the current situation reflect on your work?

I’m being positive about the quarantine. I’m trying to create a routine that I’ve never had and always wanted to have. I haven’t managed yet but I’m trying hard.

I’ve found not being able to go to the studio very difficult, that’s the worst thing of all. I actually though I’d go crazy, but then I started drawing much more than I used to and finding new paintings much better than the ones I used to do. So, I’m secretly grateful for the quarantine.

I think when I get back in the studio, I’ll have other skills that I didn’t have before, and be quicker at coming up with the ideas I want.

What are your concerns or expectations for the near future?

Yes, I’m concerned, with the idea that this might take half a year to be over because I don’t know if I’ll stand just drawing for half a year. If it takes half a year I think my positive zen face will drop and I’ll turn into the evil witch from snow white and my drawings can go and **** themselves. I always have the same expectations, to improve my spirit, my work and one day have large trayfuls of exotic fruits.

Thanks for talking to us sharing a bit about your work!