Time Out Rio de Janeiro

Five minutes with... Fernando de la Roque

The artist famed for his golden insects and erotic screenprints gives Time Out his views on why he likes to shock, the beauty to be found in cockroaches and why we should all celebrate National Women's Day.

Carioca born and bred, artist Fernando de la Roque certainly knows how to command attention. A previous work, Barata de Ouro, got him national television coverage after he took the humble cockroach and painted it gold. In his latest work, Silhuetas de Amor à Luz da Lua (Shapes of Love, Light of the Moon), showing from 9 March at Armazém Fidalgo in Copacabana, Fernando creates appealing, intricate patterns using a stencil, which at closer glance turn out to be explicit images of the female form. He explains his views of life, love and art to Time Out.

What is your inspiration?
People inspire me. All of them. Characters from day-to-day life are the best sources of inspiration for artistic creation. It's a cycle; I absorb information with people, and give it back to them chewed and digested as art. The best of the city is its people, society is its core. Without people, it doesn't make sense to do anything, to have anything. We don't even exist without other people, without people to share our experiences with.

What importance do you give to the element of surprise in your work?
It makes the work into more than just an object - it becomes an experience. I like to watch someone who isn't familiar with my series, as they begin to understand what the design is all about. When faced with an erotic scene, the most diverse reactions come out, from laughter and blushes to screams and even police complaints. It's good that my work is controversial, because that's how it earns its survival. It is marked in peoples' memories and they spread the word. Ordinary things are forgotten.

A lot of people are disgusted by cockroaches. Can you explain why you painted them gold in one of your works, Barata de Ouro, until they became almost pretty?
EVERYONE is disgusted by cockroaches, I think there is nothing more disgusting, which is exactly why I chose them. I wanted to counteract this power to repel with the power that gold has to attract. An ugly form coupled with a beautiful colour. I wanted to subvert the traditional way of looking at this (terribly) fascinating creature. Barata de Ouro is not pretty, it's beautiful!

You have made a tribute to women in your latest work. Is it for any particular woman?
The opening day, 8 March, is International Women's Day and a full moon night. I called the exhibition Silhuetas de Amor à Luz da Lua (Shapes of Love, Light of the Moon). I make an analogy with the word "matrix" in the sense that the woman is the matrix of matrices, and  the matrix stencil which I've used reproduces the same image, building organic geometric forms. I play with the word "reproduction", saying that love is the most sophisticated form of reproduction. Remember that the only way to enter the planet is through the body of a woman. The honour is for all women.

What is your favourite neighbourhood in Rio?
Jardim Botânico.

If you were mayor for a day, what would you do?
Just for a day? I would paint the walls of the official residence, I wouldn't have time to do anything else. I would stamp my cheerful motifs on the walls, floors and ceilings. Inside and out. I would probably need a few assistants, but that would be no problem as the mayor has lots of advisors, I'm sure.

Where is your favourite place to relax?
By a waterfall.

And to enjoy yourself?
I like to dance, parties and shows.

What music have you been listening to recently?
Rubinho Jacobina, Tono, Nação Zumbi... I listen to [filesharing site] Grooveshark, to anything that I remember I like, and just let the eclecticism run free.

Who is the Carioca that you admire the most?

Words by Beth McLoughlin

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