Interview with the participating artists: Erika Verzutti
E-mail interviews were conducted with the ten artists featured in the exhibition Home Again—10 Artists Who Have Experienced Japan.
The Brazilian artist Erika Verzutti did her residence in 2010. During her return to Japan for this event, she created a new work entitled Soft-boiled (33 x 33 x 7 cm), which uses the motif of an egg.
These interviews were conducted by Arts Initiative Tokyo (AIT).
ERIKA VERZUTTI Brazil, b. 1971 Verzutti resides in São Paulo, Brazil. She studied at Goldsmith College in London and participated in the Neo Tropicália exhibition (2008) at the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo. In her sculptures and paintings, Verzutti uses a variety of materials — from clay, cement and paper to real or fake vegetables and fruits, and ready-mades — to create imagery of a free and organic nature.
Q1: In Tokyo you made a series of drawings based on your everyday experiences – but always somehow made strange with your unique sense of humor or view. Is this a fair way to describe them?
Drawing and painting freely can be a difficult thing. In Tokyo I would draw everyday, taking advantage of the stream of energy we find ourselves immersed in when we arrive in Tokyo. It is true I try to look at my own drawings searching for something unique. In that series of drawings the formal solution is not the same for all of them – one will be more interesting because of the watery flow of the ink like in Capricorn; other can have an unexpected subject matter, like Ginza, the drawing of an odd bronze sculpture I would see every day in the metro.
Q2: When you made your works in Tokyo, you seemed to enjoy playing with different materials such as different tones of grey pens, paper clay, and beads. Do these materials and experiments actually influenced your new works too?
The collection of different grey tones started there and became very important to me, I learned a lot about grey, if not much technically I learned that I like grey, that I prefer neutral shades then cold shades, etc. There is also a connection of this grey palette to the sculpture materials I was experimenting with. I enjoyed working with a type of baking clay that has a dark grey stony finish. I also found new possibilities of concrete. This sculpture, Carbonada, was not so easy to make and I learned with it.
Q3: You make sculptures. Is sculpture for you something like an extension of daily life, not so monumental? You seem to use so many different materials?
True, I like the experience of sculptures mixed with non-artistic objects around us. Many materials are seductive to me in their texture, color and temperature. I like the freshness of clay and stones, sometimes I wonder if I could work on ice cream, etc. I also see materials that make me curious but that don’t meet my ambitions within representation, for example I don’t work with ready-mades much, nor textiles.
Q4: Why do animals and fruits often appear in your works? Some clearly have strange shapes and forms…and humans can recognize them?
This question makes me think if there are really so many different shapes that I identify with. I like organic, irregular solid shapes, not too polished, rich and generous for our perception. Fruits are infinitely complex forms, forms that we could not architect. I guess when I apply geometric gestures to fruits I am trying to exaggerate our human limitation to create shapes. In that same sense I like sculpture as an utopic language that could allow us to create as much as nature. I am probably working between these possibilities and impossibilities.