Representation as a Translation of the Interior. The Visual World of Pezo von Ellrichshausen
INTERVIEW BY: Andreea Mihaela Chircă GUESTS: Sofia von Ellrichshausen and Mauricio Pezo IMAGES: Pezo von Ellrichshausen
The visual language constructed by Sofia von Ellrichshausen and Mauricio Pezo dilutes the limit between art and architecture, and between the real and mental dimensions. Their radical vision on the presence and representation of objects is not just an aesthetic choice, but an ethos, assumed fully through all of their gestures, including the textual ones. We are witnessing, through this interview, a conversation between Sofia and Mauricio, generally exposing their „artchitectural” creed.
AMC: Your drawings and oil paintings seem to have delineated a terrain of their own, an autonomous field which you called at some point “architectonic art”. The representations resort to codes, canons, conventions but they surpass the constraints and transform typical techniques into a new language, situated on a neutral field between art and architecture. You have deployed many times axonometric representations, bird’s-eye, worm’s eye view and you invested them with a specific charge, as they become not only conventional ways to render and portray buildings, but rather signs. I am thinking that this is not only a matter of aesthetics. What are the layers of signification that surround your axonometric depiction, the reasons behind your choice of a certain architectural language?
Sofia von Ellrichshausen (SvE): Yes, I would agree with the description of painting as a sign of itself, as an art with structural qualities, equivalent to a system of thought. Still, we would prefer to separate our two-dimensional production in at least two bold categories: on the one hand to those drawings and paintings that refer to buildings that we are imagining for the future or that we have built in the past, and, on the other hand, those paintings and drawings that invent a three-dimensional reality without referring to any particular case. In other words, one group of paintings is instrumental to depict a concrete building and the other group is purely autonomous, speculative and, by definition, theoretical.
Mauricio Pezo (MP): There is also a temporal dimension associated with the paintings that seems to be indifferent to its purpose, whether it is to illustrate an idea for a building or to illustrate an idea about itself. In any case, the technique implies not only a certain effort, which is clearly different between watercolor on paper and oil on canvas, but also a certain duration of such effort. Thus, since paintings are time consuming, they demand for a clear intention for them to be worth pursuing.
SvE: And within this double representational purpose, it is relevant for us to be clear about the specific means of every art. In fact, when we talk about the language of architecture we mean the spatial sequences, proportions, configurations, walls, floors, openings, etc. whereas when we talk about the language of painting, we mean a pictorial space, with planes, lines, colors, shades, etc.
MP: The scope of those distinct languages, and perhaps the illusion of continuity among them, resides on an abstract level. Ultimately, both the building and the painting are mental constructs. And this might be one of the essential motivations for exploring isometric or axonometric projections, or oblique drawing as a broad type; the lack of perspective, or the illusion of an objective eye placed at infinitum. We are really intrigued by the possibility of reading a building as a single unit, as a closed system of spatial relationships. Thus, the idealized, homogenous, non-hierarchical mechanism implied in the oblique drawing, in our view, can be literally translated into the representation of a whole, as if it were an abstract device that allows us to comprehend, at once, the totality of a building, an overview of a whole.
SvE: Despite the size of the painting, we have produced several series that explore that spatial structure as a whole or the formal character, the format, the relative notion of scale, etc. And we have indeed speculated with the possibility of inverting the terms between art and architecture. We have worked in both domains from the very beginning, and we had an early revelation about how irrelevant the disciplinary distinction was, and still is, for the kind of work we want to pursue. Critics usually describe the sensible aspect of a work of architecture as “artistic”, as if referring to a supplementary quality that can or not be incorporated into a work of architecture. We don’t think that way. We believe architecture has a profound artistic ethos. Even more, we presume that architectural space should be understood as an aesthetic category in its own right.