ADD FUEL: The ‘Bizarre and Joyful’ Marriage of Pop-Culture and Portuguese Tiling
Lined with stunning ceramic tiles, Portugal’s city streets are a sight to remember. The tin-glazed azulejo tiles that color Portugal in bright cobalt date back to the 15th century, and often illustrate historical and religious narratives within their intricate designs. Portuguese artist Diogo Machado, aka ADD FUEL, reinterprets the blue and white tiles, creating vector-based designs and stenciled street art that merges tradition with innovation.
ADD FUEL’s inaugural solo exhibition at Subliminal Projects, YOUTH ETERNAL, showcases his tile-based works, sculpture, and a public mural at the gallery’s favorite local watering-hole, Little Joy Cocktails. Subliminal Projects’ co-founder Shepard Fairey shares his view on the work: “[ADD FUEL’s] pieces master the aesthetics of traditional Portuguese tile work while adding his own playful character illustrations subversively woven into the designs. These two seemingly disparate styles are so elegantly blended together that discovering the oddity within the harmony is both bizarre and joyful.”
Both playful and intimate, ADD FUEL’s designs narrate his transition from adolescence into adulthood. The pop-culture icons of his youth mingle with the maturity of traditional motifs, all interrupted by bald patches of torn white paper. Shepard notes, “The actual and faux rips ADD FUEL incorporates into his art are more than just a nod to paper, the common material of modern street art; they’re also a provocative bit of visual dissonance, since tiles don’t rip.”
Like the historical azulejos, ADD FUEL’s interpretations tell a story that’s broken into pieces of a whole. “In my work I always suggest an adventure, a journey through focused attention in the composition, and the discovery of nuance through layers, patterns, allegories, and the unstoppable constructive dynamism of the story I present in each piece,” he says. “It guides the viewer to discover intricate details, and a story over time, in each work I comprise in YOUTH ETERNAL.”
YOUTH ETERNAL is on view at Subliminal Projects in Los Angeles through December 10. For more information, please visit the gallery here.
“In my work I always suggest an adventure.” — ADD FUEL
All photos published with permission of the artist(s).
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