The Brazilian artist talks to Dazed about reinventing lost items in his historical collage art and his first solo exhibition in the UK
The Brazilian born, now London-based artist Rodrigo Souto may be known as the co-founder of the acclaimed Black Garden Tattoo Studio on London’s Drury Lane but recently it’s been his historical collage art, created from antique, lost and found items that has put Souto into the spotlight. With over 15 exhibitions in his native Brazil, Souto’s first solo exhibition in London was presented earlier this year by Mas Civiles and Upper Playground at the FIFTY24 gallery.
...your work all about?
I like the concept of lost things, things that people may have thrown away many years ago and forgot about. I bring them back together in my work and re-contextualise them.
...your latest exhibition inspired by?
I’ve been more influenced by incorporating antiques into my work. I’m very inspired by history and moods evoked by certain periods. Sometimes I’ll spend a lot of money on certain papers that date back to 1843 and then scout for other items that will fit with them. The show will have some of my older works as well, so really it’s a timeline of how I’ve developed as an artist and I think you can see the progression of my work but recognize a coherent style.
...the next great art movement going to be?
If I knew that, I’d be a rich man. ... Your dream day? My dream day would be an exhibition. I’ve spent so much time producing artwork lately that I’d really like to see it exposed to a wider audience. Aside from that, checking out antique markets and chilling out with friends is always good.
...the most satisfying thing about working with the materials you use?
The history of an item means a lot to me. Working with an antique that has its own story brings a new dimension to any piece. Collage is a very tactile experience, and bringing together different textures, histories and styles is always satisfying when it starts to flow together as one piece.
...the best piece of advice you've ever heard?
When I first came to London from Brazil, I couldn’t speak English and had no money so I worked as a kitchen hand. It was hell, really long hours. I called my dad to whine about it and he basically said: ‘If you haven’t got another job to go to, quit complaining and work harder to get out of there.’ Which is what I did. And he was right.
...the most important thing for an artist to remember?
Stay grounded and stay yourself.
...the most inspiring thing you've ever seen?
When I first came to London, I found it completely inspiring. There was so much history, so much creative energy and I really felt like everything was happening here.
...the stupidest thing you've ever done?
Some people might say moving to the UK without speaking the language wasn’t a bright move, but it turned out good in the end!
...next on your collaboration dream list?
The artist who has been the biggest inspiration to me was my old teacher, Valdo Rechelo, so it would be an honour to collaborate with him.
...your next big thing?
I just opened my own tattoo studio, so that was quite big for me. In terms of what’s coming next, I just want to keeping doing my work and letting it evolve.
Photos by Teddy Fitzhugh