Diogo pinheiro: visual artist
My name is Diogo Pinheiro and I am a Portuguese-born artist living in Canada. I have been living in Canada since the early 90s and grew up mostly in Toronto. I think the simple answer is that my title is a visual artist, specifically in painting and printmaking; however, this may one day change. After having art as a hobby throughout high school I chose to do a fine arts degree at OCADU, with my major in Drawing and Painting. It made me more aware of architecture and how people interacted with it in a large city after commuting two hours every day for four years. Commuting ultimately ended up being a source of inspiration for my fourth-year body of work for the 100th Gradx Art Show at OCADU.
Tell us about the last thing you made and why you made it.
The last thing I made other than a painting would have to be a DIY press for my woodcuts. I prefer using thicker papers which require more pressure to get consistent solid blacks. This meant several hours of applying pressure by hand - which probably isn’t sustainable after several years, so getting a press was the obvious choice. Presses are quite expensive so to save money I just made my own. It worked quite well after some adjustments which means the print quality was more consistent while saving me some production time. One day I’ll get a proper press but for now my DIY press does the job.
What do you make?
Paintings. And by paintings, I mean a visual language of my observations which I communicate by moving paint around. More specifically, this communication is expressed through geometrically simplified representations of public transit architecture. Currently, a lot of subway and train stations within the Peel Region because travelling right now isn’t the greatest idea due to Covid, the plan for this year was to travel to Montreal and a few cities in the US. In terms of how I treat the photographs that I take of the locations, - I abstract textures, shadows, light, materials and objects such as signs and advertisements into shapes. The focus is the geometric abstraction but still have the locations recognizable. I picked the context of public transit because for the most part it is often ignored. It’s not meant to be viewed as something beautiful but instead just a place that people use to get somewhere else, although they're functional and for the most part successful in moving large quantities of people around. I think they’re the perfect representation of what it’s like living in a city, where people are always moving and potentially ignoring their surroundings. It’s rare for people to stop, look, and admire basic elements that are around us in a city.
What’s your dream project? Imagine you had no limitations/all resources available to you.
Doing a solo show at Union Station. I like the idea of people viewing my work in the places that I’ve painted - potentially changing the way they view the place they’re using. Galleries offer a sterile environment which gives a neutral place that hopefully doesn’t change the way your work is being viewed, whereas having your work shown at the painted location may enhance the experience. A goal would be to have one of my artworks permanently shown at Union Station before I retire. I won't be retiring anytime
What’s the best advice you’ve been given ?
Be careful turning your art practice into a full-time gig because the business side might take over your passion that you have for art making. I don’t have a lot of experience but I understand this: if you lose the interest that you had when you made the choice of having art as a career, then your art work will suffer because of it - at that point you’re better off choosing a different career path.
Where do you see Peel Region’s arts and culture scene in the future? What does it look like? What does it feel like?
This is a little hard to answer because Peel Region is quite large and has a large art community. I don’t think I’ve experienced all of it. But I see it stronger and containing a lot more public art like mural work. I do hope that people outside of the art community continue to support art and culture, as local art helps visualize all the different communities within the Peel Region and helps establish strong bonds between the different communities.
If you could collaborate with anyone (dead or alive) who would it be and why?
Definitely Edward Hopper because he is one of the artists that has influenced my current and previous work. Most of his recorded art career happened in his later years and I think we’re missing a lot of artistic progress. I wouldn’t collaborate necessarily to have a two person show but instead to discuss his work and find out what we’re missing as viewers of his work. We live in a period where a lot of the things we do are recorded potentially forever and most of my current favorite artists have time lapses of them finishing a piece of art. I don’t think people realize how much of a treasure that is. A time lapse of a piece shows a live thought stream of someone creating something and shows small glimpses of decisions that are made by artists. We’re missing a lot of details of artists that have passed and I wonder if Edward Hopper had more to teach us as the viewer.
What’s one question you wish you were asked more often? Please answer this question ;)
Why steps and doorways are such a common motif in my work. I think it’s often overlooked as just something that exists in a specific location that makes the piece more interesting, but they do have meaning. Hmm, come to my shows and ask me in person. :D