1xRUN Thru Interview
Zero Gravity by Camilo Pardo
Why ZERO GRAVITY for the name of this show? And what can we expect to see?
Camilo Pardo: Many of my paintings, especially the figurative works featuring models and women, are frequently named after planets or they reference the universe – “Galaxy”, “Miss Mars”, “Mercury”, “Luna” and so forth. I’ve tried over the years to keep that consistent, to touch upon the notion of “space” and limitless freedom. Zero Gravity is the point when you escape gravity’s pull, you leave the atmosphere and everything floats. Most of the material that will be displayed is brand new. Making a body of brand new works for a new show in a new gallery is difficult, although fittingly enough that was something I managed to achieve at my previous exhibit at 323 several years ago.
You have one of the busiest schedules of any Detroit artist alive today. What have you been up to recently?
Camilo Pardo: I spent a considerable amount of time in California during the past year, but I did return for the auto show. I’m spending more time here of late and I’m trying to complete several paintings that I began on behalf of clients across the country. I’m scheduled to go out west again sometime in August. I’ll be hitting car shows and a few auctions, going through the desert, through Utah and the Napa Valley in northern California. There’s going to be a great deal of driving as usual.
A great deal of the show centers on “found art” and similar objects. In your opinion, what is the fundamental attraction of this form of art?
Camilo Pardo: Well, to an artist it presents a challenge and a creative obstacle because you find and start with something that’s been discarded – it’s had a life or a purpose and now it’s “done” and it’s been thrown out or stacked away from sight. The task for the artist is to re-imagine it as something new. I did a great deal of that for 323. I went through alleys in Detroit, checked one resale shop after another. I’ve found plenty of doors over the years, I can tell you. They’re always fun to work with, although frequently they have to be painstakingly tweaked, cut and so forth. They have to be castoffs, of course, but they always make excellent canvases. For that matter, I find and frequently use canvases that have already been painted on, works that were simply left here at my studio – stuff that I’ve been babysitting for years until a day arrived when I simply decided okay, it’s time to paint on this or that and see what happens.
Inner State, of course, is the relocated 323East. What do you think of the new digs?
Camilo Pardo: Well, in a way Inner State and other downtown buildings are “new canvases” or “found art” in themselves. You have to be creative and prepared to work hard. Happily enough this is becoming a fairly common occurrence in other cities – galleries out of factories or fancy restaurants inside buildings that used to be meat lockers. 323 always reminded me of those cool bars that have been around for decades – places that seem incredibly small compared to modern establishments that were built from the ground up. Hidden little gems that possess a geometry that can’t be reproduced or is deemed unsuitable today. Inner State is bigger than 323, of course, but it has that same charm and since I frequently make works that are large and occasionally cover an entire wall – well, I’m pretty happy.
Needless to say, Detroit is now entering a serious period where the future seems truly uncertain. Do you see that being reflected in the art being produced by the city’s artists? Or is there a note of optimism being sounded?
Camilo Pardo: A feeling of uncertainty is nothing new here, but uncertainty is a challenge. Things were uncertain back in the ’80s. For that matter, they were uncertain back in the ’30s. There are those saying the city is coming around, but it’s coming around really slow despite the best efforts of so many dedicated people. For my own part, I share that optimism. And if this is any proof of that assertion, I truly wish I had bought more than one downtown building when I had the chance years ago. I should have bought two – or three!