Limits help Antonio Carrau to create amazing abstract and expressive dreamscapes.

TWS –Hi Antonio, can you tell us something that you’d like our readers to know about yourself?

AC –I´m from Uruguay. I have no artistic formation, I don’t know what’s the correct way of doing things. I´m not even sure if I understand what “subject matter” means, not that I care though.

I’m really motivated by music. 

Everything is ephemeral.

I really enjoy artwork which looks timeless. Not that I can achieve this, It’s just something that I admire.

TWS –There’s something very primal and pure in your work that makes me think of childhood. Was art something that attracted you since you were a kid? Do you recall the first time that art caught your attention?

AC –I think I was always attracted to art, but in many different ways, what interested me changed and evolved during the years, and this is something that still continues to happen, which I think is normal.

The first time art caught my eye, that I can remember, is ads in surf and skate magazines from the late 90s. Of course before that I was exposed to many things which I can now recognize as being an early influence, for example Walt Disney movies or paintings in Egyptian pyramids which I really liked as a child, but at the time I was not really conscious about this taste for images. 

In my teenage years I liked graffiti and mural paintings, and this slowly developed into an interest in other kinds of artwork.

TWS –What led you to work with collage?

AC –A few years back I really wanted to develop a style, my voice, or whatever you want to call it. I knew the only way of achieving that was by failing over and over again and producing a certain amount of work. I don’t know exactly why I got into collage, I had been painting for a while and it was just too much, figuring out what to paint, how and making the colors, there are so many possibilities and besides the process is pretty slow compared to other techniques, this was not working for me.

I started doing some collages in black and white, with papers I made textures on by using markers and spray paint. I liked the result, and besides, the collage technique allowed me to move things around and try stuff which was not permanent until pasted. I really like this aspect of the technique. After those, I tried using some color papers I had by accident, and again, I liked what happened. I realized I was going to stick for a while with this when some time had passed by and I was still using the same colored papers and making collages.

TWS –Why do you feel you embraced the medium, and what do you think that sets you apart from the more traditional approaches to collage?

AC –I probably embraced the medium because after some time doing it I felt it was going somewhere and enjoyed the technique. I think the technique fits me.
At the same time I got some positive feedback from people whose work I admired and I think that helped too. 

Probably the main difference between my work and what might be considered “traditional collage” is that I don’t use images, I prefer plain colors. I don’t want my works to have that traditional collage feeling. 

TWS –I read that your process treats collage as the antithesis of Photoshop, thriving on the limitations the material can provide. Can you expand on this idea?

AC –The main reason I stuck with collage is probably this freedom it provides of moving things around without having to stick them until you want to. You can see how a piece will look in a certain part, and try different things by moving stuff around, once it makes sense I can paste it, and continue building the image.

Limitations work for me, if there’s too many possibilities I get stuck. Having a limited palette and tools make me reach better results. As I’ve mentioned before, when I first started painting, it was just too much, and with so many possibilities it’s hard to make choices. I usually start work with a basic composition idea and a very limited palette, this of course changes during the process, but it’s much easier to get things moving like this. 

TWS –How does your work process changes when working in digital media?

AC –I had a short period in which I explored a little bit with digital media, and then tried printing some of these patterns I made on the computer to make collages. I kind of take the same collage approach when working with the computer, but with a computer graphic feel, I’m not interested in making something completely in the computer that tries to look like it’s been done by hand. 

TWS –Your work is both abstract and expressive. Are there any issues you’d like your art to communicate?

AC –I like creating images, and experiencing images. I dont really think about ideas to communicate. I concentrate on image making. When I look at an image I don’t care about what it’s communicating, I prefer to experience the image, I don’t want an explanation, I like stuff that speaks on its own. And this is how I approach image making, from my own personal experience with images.

Of course, if it’s commissioned work there is probably an idea behind this image, but it still should work on its own. Many times the clients need explanations, they have this urge to “understanding the image in the correct way”, I don’t get it. They don’t consider that the rest of the people will only look at the image and receive no explanation. For me the important thing is to concentrate on making a powerful and interesting image. 

TWS –In the context of your abstract creations, which are the roles of planning and improvisation when you face a new piece or project.

AC –It depends, if it’s work for me or commissioned by a client. If it’s for me, I’ll do whatever I want, no plan at all, there are always things that would trigger a new piece, maybe an idea or a certain shape I want to use, but nothing else. No plan is the best plan, the image will build reacting to what’s already there. The thing with this is that the final result is totally unpredictable. Usually very fresh, but again, I have no idea of what it will look like until it’s finished. When working with clients there is still a lot of improvisation but with a more planned start. I might do some basic pencil sketches which I share with the client or define a pallet and a general intention and feel for the piece. I prefer that these sketches are very basic and open ended. 

TWS –Your art has lived in many different mediums and scales. I’ve seen that you’ve made from murals, to works in paper, paintings, digital,  textile, etc. Where did you start and how was this exploration of mediums in your career? Where do you feel more confortable lately?

AC –It started mostly with murals, I was very interested in this medium a few years back, but now I´ll rather work in the studio.

Lately I´ve been working mostly in collages, but also did some paintings for a show I had last year on November. I definitely want to continue painting and exploring this medium more. 

For me art is exploration, and changing mediums is part of this. It’s really easy to get stuck doing only one thing, and the more you do this same thing, the harder it will be to move to another thing.

TWS –Is there anything from Uruguay that you feel informs strongly your practice and your identity as an artist?

AC –I´ve been asked this question a few times, and I really don´t know. I do take stuff from my surroundings all the time, but I also get really influenced by stuff I see on the internet or movies too, so I guess it’s more a mix of everything.

TWS – What’s your personal definition of collage?

AC –If I had to explain what collage is to an alien, I would say it’s pasting stuff on a surface.

Find more about Antonio Carrau
on his website or Instagram