Interview with the participating artists: Thiago Rocha Pitta

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Interviews by email were conducted with the artists who are featured in Home Again-10 Artists Who Have Experienced Japan, during which they spoke about their experience in Tokyo and their artistic response.

In this first interview, we introduce Thiago Rocha Pitta. Pitta lived in Tokyo for three months during 2008. Faced for the first time with the overwhelming experience of the city’s crowds, Pitta turned his attention to the unadorned walls of the architecture around him. The artist moved the date of his visit to Japan for this exhibition up by one month due to his participation in the São Paulo Biennale.

These interviews were conducted by Arts Initiative Tokyo [AIT].

THIAGO ROCHA PITTA Brazil, b. 1980
Pitta, who lives in São Paulo, Brazil, participated in the Singapore Biennale (2006) and São Paulo Biennale (2012). During his residence in Tokyo, Pitta was attracted to the simple forms that he encountered in the city’s architecture. His drawings and installations combine the inorganic aspect of architecture and the organic aspect of salt crystals. He makes contemplative works based on a close observation of natural processes such as weathering, sedimentation and the flow of water, often using salt crystal as a symbol of change in nature.

Q1: In Tokyo you made a series of drawings inspired by empty walls on buildings, and the pattern of the weather on them. Your works do often reflect on the relations between human and natural contexts? Is this right? Why?

Yes, the drawings I did were somehow sketches for a project, called Project for a Stormy Weather Painting it consists basically in a painting that changes with time, and is changed by weather.
In Portuguese, also in other languages, there’s a single word for both time and weather.

Q2: For the Hara show, you made a new concrete work. It is like a curtain or sail standing in a space. There is something here about wind and absence, about lightness and weight…are you interested in these poetic tensions?

Well, this work is part of series of works called Monuments to the Continental Drift. These are all petrified sails, in different context or configurations.
The sails are a sign of movement, of navigation, travelling and so on. Once they’re petrified they became still, they stand still, like rocks.
They are light because they are sails, at the same time they are heavy because they are petrified. I don’t think there’s a tension, because they look comfortable, one can be light and heavy at the same time, or not be tense.

Q3: Is poetry or fiction a reference to you for making works?


Q4: You also made some works in Japan using salt and its slow erosion of paper. Natural processes or gravity or weather – things which are beyond direct human control – are important to you? Why do you think so?

Well first it would be a little too much if humans tried to control gravity or weather ‘ne’, so these, we could call forces, aren’t beyond control because there’s no will to control them.
Every existing thing on this planet is configured by the planet’s gravity…
Yes, things beyond human control are very important for me, through them there’s freedom.