Art in the age of social networks
DISCUSSION with Pedro Richardo
A key figure on the Nantes scene and a seasoned member of the "100 pression" collective, Pedro has adorned countless walls with his colourful and dreamlike universe, in Nantes of course, but also well beyond its borders.
A fifteen year journey and an experience as long as the arm, made of creations, of course, but also of inspirations, exchanges, human links...
In the context of this new collection, we thought it appropriate to discuss with him the worrying subject of hyper-communication, omnipresent on social networks, and from which the artistic world is not exempt. He chose to stay completely out of it, despite the surrounding rush.
We found the artist in his new home, in the calm, just behind the dune of Saint Gilles Croix de Vie. A life closer to nature, between creations, vegetable garden and surf sessions.
Can you introduce yourself in a few words ? How would you define your work ?
My name is Pedro, I have been a self-employed muralist for 15 years. I am a young father, passionate about music and surfing, I currently live on the Vendée coast. I have been part of a collective for over 10 years called "100 pression", our premises are located in Nantes at Pol'n. My influences are wide, they range from "primitive" art, to graffiti artists, passing through modern art, comics and cinema. It's difficult to define his own style. I would present it as a work mixing illustration, colours, art deco influences, materials and textures, all imagined as scenes of life synthesized into a logotype.
What led you to work in the public space ? To propose walls ?
There are several reasons, the first one is that for my generation painting takes place a lot outside, on walls. It's hard to separate painting from mural painting. I like painting walls too because it's a great support, it's a photographic work. And then I grew up with all the skateboard and New York imagery so it's part of my world.
Hasn't the internet become a new public space?
Yes it is, it's the new public space. I'm not a graffiti artist, but when I started, whether it was magazines or spray cans, everything was difficult to access. For better or for worse, the internet has democratised all that. Today we can communicate, see the work of artists around the world in two clicks and that's pretty cool. After that, it shouldn't be at the expense of the real thing, the exhibitions or the walls.
What do you think about the influence that social networks can have on artists ?
We were discussing this with colleagues in the studio, and the relationship with likes can quickly change an artist's work and even frustrate them. When you work on Facebook or Instagram, you have to produce something that is constantly renewed, which is drowned out by the mass. This inevitably has an influence because it's very mercantile, it's double-edged I think.
And doesn't this ultimately make the art world uniform ?
I think that the work of inspiration is necessary to forge an artistic identity, but the problem is when it becomes an automatism to see what is done around the world. I'm afraid that it's really levelling down, that it's lacking perspective. When you look at the bloggers and influencers, it's a race for content. If you don't have time for reflection, or creation, which are moments of silence, poetry and even error. You end up producing empty things, and that happens to all of us. The Internet has crushed time and space.
Do you think that the notion of occupying public space, of interacting with a real audience, has been sidelined by the virtual ?
It's just an image, everything is flattened out so people don't really realise the value of the work. What it implies behind it, how it's done, the size of a wall, the medium used, for example, oil and acrylic work is not the same thing.
Is the fact that you are a bit distant from social networks a way to militate against it ?
I don't think it's militancy, I'm a pretty bad communicator in general. But I publish content from time to time, when it gives me pleasure and because it remains an interesting interface, a tool for sharing. Having to produce for the sake of producing, I don't want to run to that. I don't think I publish even 10% of what I can produce. However, I have had collaborators, I have worked with Olow and with a lot of people, it is also a way of spreading, of having partners.
This subject of seeking notoriety on social networks that will influence your work, is it something that you have seen evolve around you, your friends ?
I think this notion of being a public figure, of dreaming of being known, has always existed. I would find it hard to judge others because I'm one of them too, it's always gratifying when you see that your publication works. Afterwards, the lure is to see only through that lens. And indeed I am sometimes surprised by work that I value, artists that I admire a lot, who are not followed very much. Even if it doesn't change the quality of the work as such.
Has this changed your perception of the
creative environment in general ?
We can talk about the music industry. Today it's very hard to make a living, with only platforms like Spotify, Deezer, which are a bit like Instagram for painting. On the other hand, it pushes creators to perform, to constantly innovate, so in a way it's positive because it invents new forms. It democratises and allows you to meet artists who are on the other side of the world, to see work that you would never have been able to see in your life, even if you won't necessarily see it in real life. You shouldn't condemn digital tools, they bring a lot to the table. There are real things to be built in terms of the exhibition's purpose, the artistic purpose.
Do you have any future projects you would like to tell us about?
At the moment I'm working in my studio, we're also preparing a fresco with the collective at the Hangar skatepark in Nantes. I'm also working on a playground and of course on visuals for Olow.