Thursday, December 30, 2010

Ten Minutes with Artist Philosopher Margarida Sardinha

I recently met Portugese-born artist Margarida Sardinha via Twitter. From our first correspondence I recognized someone with great personal strength who was quite serious about her art. Like many great artists she synthesizes classic understanding with contemporary technologies to give shape and form to her own unique vision. She describes herself as a Geometric and Kinetic Artist.

In addition to a love of art, she is also an avid reader who, like myself, is fond of Umberto Eco and Argentine Jorge Luis Borges. The work represented on this page is all her own, some being studies for more complex animated works. It is my privilege to introduce her to you here.

Ennyman: When did you first become aware of your aptitude for art and how have you nurtured this gift?
XM: I can't remember the moment when I became interested in Art as I was far too young to remember... all I can remember is the fact that I always saw myself either drawing or involved in some plastic little project as a child. As my parents have a lot of books I started looking attentively at some of the world's greatest works and was absolutely fascinated by them and for as long as I can remember I always wanted to be an artist. As my parents became aware of this they introduce me to an art mentor at the age of eleven and he guided me for some eight years. He taught me Art History and Fine Art (mostly painting) in private lessons apart from my normal school studies where I also chose the art subject.

EN: How did you become interested in geometric and kinetic art?
XM: In the very same way as art history reflects the evolution of pictorial ideas I believe that every work of art is a process of many years of assimilation and maturation and it reflects that very same process. So, for me it was a process for one has to go through many stages till one finds what is it that is worth conveying in a contemporary work of art, and, after a lot of analysis I found myself constantly referring to geometry which is not new because most great works have a geometrical basis to them (even figurative ones) and what geometric abstract artists did was to lay bare what others concealed. I also combined this with movement therefore turning the work kinetic and using digital media to support it which enabled me to produce optical illusions that for me are the core of geometry, for geometry is exactly our attempt to dissipate the illusion of form and connect with archetypes (perfect forms) therefore my work is an allegory as it closes itself in a cycle.

EN: Fascinating. You were born in Lisbon. How did you come to live in London for ten years?
XM: It was decided by my parents and me when I was fifteen that I should go and study abroad once I finished High School at the age of eighteen. I applied to London and Edinburgh and I was accepted at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London to much of my surprise and happiness. After that I went on and did my BA at Chelsea College of Art and Design and as soon as I graduated I started exhibiting extensively. I was given a studio by Space Studios at a very reasonable price and that gave me the right space to work as I was getting important commissions to work on. The last show that I did in London was the "London Recycled" show where I curated with a group of friends a very ambitious exhibition where we showcased twenty new works by London-based artists from different artistic disciplines and from different nationalities' backgrounds.

EN: And how did London influence your work?
XM: London influenced my work enormously because I didn't have access to the latest contemporary shows in Portugal and even at school we only got as far as Abstractionism and Surrealism. I avidly went to see as many shows as possible in London and became aware of Art Theory of Conceptualism and Minimalism which truly defined my work direction at the time. Also new media was emergent at the time and I became very interested in these new forms of art especially video and installation. Besides all this there was of course the opportunity to interact with people from all over the world and learn the history of different cultures which is a truly enriching experience for anyone interested in broadening his/hers horizons.

EN: Are you making a living on your creative endeavors or do you support your art passions by some other means?
XM: I have been commissioned for my work, so therefore received monetary support through that but it is difficult for those opportunities to arise. I made a conscious decision (because I can afford it) to make work which I find relevant and not necessarily to sell for I like to work in a site-specific manner and/or also produce work that I feel that is genuine and not very commercial. It was a conscious decision and I don't regret it.

EN: Some of your art has been described as being based on "philosophical ideas related with the eternal evolution of thought, creativity, knowledge and culture." Can you explain the philosophical ideas that underpin your work?
XM: The main philosophical ideas behind my work - I would like to stress Philosophical because I usually use those to make parallels with religious and scientific ones - are Platonic ideas and the ability that every human being has to go through the stages of the Allegory of the Cave. I think it provides the best metaphor for the quoted "eternal evolution of thought, creativity, knowledge and culture." for those four stages of evolution are the progression of human mind and spirit in every given human life going from Empirical Knowledge, Belief Knowledge, Abstract/Scientific Knowledge and finally Intuitive Knowledge. There's also another Platonic concept that I agree with and that is the fact that we have innate forms within us - in fact the purpose of the Allegory of the Cave is that we discover those archetypal forms and dismiss the shadows that are being projected and alluded upon us. These became known as the geometrical platonic solids that I use time and time again in my work for I believe that Sacred Geometry is, as stated above, innate in us and its resultant Divine Progressions are at the very foundation of our souls. As I said I create concept parallels based on these ideas and one example is the fact Hindu religion also gives a lot of emphasis in dispersing illusion - Maya - being the source of all ignorance and therefore very similar in some aspects to Plato's views. This is a small account of the ideas that surround my work because I fear my description might become too dense but I would like to say that I like to find affinities in Religion - Kabbalah, Christianity, Taoism, Buddhism - based on symbolism and respective beliefs.

EN: Where is the best place to find you online besides
XM: I prefer to be contacted via e-mail either on or
EN: Thank you again for sharing yourself here.

EdNote: In one of her emails she described reading Borges to looking deeply into an M. C. Escher work. The XM designation for Ms. Sardinha comes from her correspondence in which she signs her name XMargarida.

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