They say one man’s trash is another man’s treasure, in the case of Lisbon artist Bordalo: other people’s trash becomes his art. Using collected trash, plastics and other various items- Bordalo creates paintings that appear to come off his canvas. Whether it’s a wall or a random object found in the wild, he beautifully constructs statement art pieces to hopefully shed some light on the ridiculous amount of waste found all over the streets. Its recycling at its finest.
If you had a theme song, what would it be?
Never thought about it, it’s hard to choose just one. But music is very important for me during the creative process and we’re always listening to music in the studio.
When do you feel most creative?
When I find new places with disposed objects such as trash pits.
What is the strangest object you’ve used in a piece?
Used covid masks, maybe? Or covid rapid-tests and syringes.
Can you tell us a little bit about your background and how you became an artist?
I was very inspired by my grandfather, whom I spent a lot of time with when I was young, so that opened the possibility to be an artist from a young age. Other than that, I grew up drawing a lot and as a teenager I got into the graffiti scene which made me also more aware of the public art in the streets.
You attribute your Grandfather, Real Bordalo, as a great influence on you artistically. What was the greatest lesson you learned from him that you have put into practice?
That it is possible to be an artist and live from it, despite it not being easy!
When was the first time you decided to use garbage and turn it into art?
When a teacher mentioned that my drawing looked like they wanted to stick out of the paper and I decided to use a packaging from my brushes to create that effect – and it worked!
How do you feel your art has changed or evolved over the years?
It has evolved technically, I have a team now that helped me improve a lot. And as practice makes perfect I believe that murals as sculptures are getting better. I also started using more colorful plastics on the Big Trash Animals, so as to paint less, and now the color stays a lot longer than before. I found new ways of applying other objects in my work to extend my message and that resulted in other series of works as well.
How do you think art can affect public perception of important issues?
I think with the Big Trash Animals the public can realize with an image the ridiculous amount of trash that’s produced and also that many items can be reused before being recycled or disposed of. I also hope that a sense of emergency is passed on by my work.
What other ways do you explore your creativity besides trash art and painting?
I have a series of work called Provocative, where I change details of urban objects, such as traffic lights, traffic signs, benches, road signs, crosswalks and others, to convene a certain message regarding issues that are happening in the world. It’s a way to pass my opinion on several global problems or happenings, such as racism, war, xenophobia, misogynism, etc.
What is something you have heard about your work that has surprised you?
When schools with very young children understand the message better than their parents or educators.
Art being direct and easy to understand doesn’t make it basic – it’s an added value!
What do you enjoy doing when you aren’t working?
Being in the wild or exploring the city.