Interview with Pjota (Brasil)

PJOTA prepares for exhibition at Anno Domini

Pjota arrived in California a little over a month ago to prepare for his first solo exhibition outside of Brasil. We first encountered his art in 2007 when we travelled to Sao Paulo to hang out with our good friends Bruno 9li and Stephan Doitschinoff. Pjota (19 at the time) was part of a group show exhibiting at Choque Cultural. We were really impressed by the depth of his work and surprised to find out he was so young. In 2008 we made arrangements for his debut solo exhibition at Anno Domini. The following interview took place during his stay here in California.

ANNO DOMINI: Where does your name, "PJOTA," come from?

PJOTA: PJOTA, came from PAULO JOSE, P from paulo and JOTA (jay) from José. Paulo is my maternal grandfather and José my paternal grandfather; because of this my parents gave this name to me. This is a big name for me.

Untitled V (detail) by Pjota

AD: When did you start making art? Have you always thought of yourself as an artist?

PJOTA: I started when I was about 12-13 years old. I went to the streets with my friends and painted the walls, but all my life I liked to draw. When I was younger I lived in São Jose do Rio Preto with my parents, and when we would go to São Paulo I would copy the graffiti and pixação letters in my notebook to draw in my house.

Untitled V (detail) by Pjota

AD: It sounds like the work on the streets has had an impact on you? How does your art relate to that environment?

PJOTA: The street gave me big examples about texture, and now I use that in my works. I pass to the canvas my pictorial studies from the streets; this is not about graffiti, it is about the cities and the walls.

Untitled IV (detail) by Pjota

AD: That's an important distinction you just made. Can you elaborate a bit? How is your work about the cities and the walls?

PJOTA: Ok, my work inside [galleries] is still in progress. I dont know if I want to do something like drawings and paintings, or something like installations with objects in the future. I'm not a writer (grafitti painter) and I don't want to make more graffiti for work, only for fun. Because of this I need to study more of my work on the walls, but I have a past with graffiti and this past has given me a big "library" of images, textures and drawings from the streets. I use all that in my canvas works because these things are in my life and part of me. I love all of the street's potencial. I can use this pictorial potencial in my work.

Untitled VIII (detail) by Pjota

AD: Yes, I understand. The things you encounter on the streets (graffiti / pixacao / textures on walls) becomes part of your "library of images" as you say. But please explain what you mean when you say your art is about the cities and the people?

PJOTA: When I say it's about the cities and people, I mean something like the living, my vision about the world and the people in it, this energy, the construction and the "busy" that happens in the cities.

Untitled VII (detail) by Pjota

AD: "Walking in the White" is your first international solo exhibition, correct? How does that affect your career as an artist living in Brazil. Is it important?

PJOTA: Yes, this is my first international solo, and that's very important for me. It shows that my work was recognized outside of my country, and because of this I receive more credits in Brasil. In Brasil it is difficult to work with art and an international solo show can open more doors.

Untitled I (detail) by Pjota

AD: We first encountered your paintings in 2007 on a trip to São Paulo. I think you were just 19 at the time. You're pretty serious for any age, but it's something that really stood out to us. Some people look at your art and think it is dark due to the nature of the figures that appear in your work. Is that how you see your paintings?

PJOTA: Sometimes it's dark, but not all the time. I prefer to say strong than dark. My pictures have a lot of power, horns, color, big teeth, masks, scales, animals around... this is a kind of protection. I don't know why but I prefer to make those kind of drawings. I feel more power in those things. Something that I use and that often shocks people are the horns. I use horns because I've seen horns on animals; it has nothing to do with religion or devils. I use some religious symbols too, but I don't draw devils. I put horns in my drawings only for this.

Untitled VI (detail)

AD: What would you like someone to walk away with after they first encounter your work?

PJOTA: I would like it if someone talks good about it, things about the quality of the work and those sorts of things, but nothing specific.

PJOTA prepares for exhibition at Anno Domini

All artwork pictured above are from details of paintings by Pjota currently on display at Anno Domini gallery in San Jose, CA.

Walking in the White by PJOTA (Brasil), solo exhibition
Currently on view at Anno Domini through October 3, 2009.
View available works online.

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