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Last updated on March 24th, 2016 at 04:44 pm

feeder insider w/ Saddo [en]

Raul Oprea aka Saddo is an illustrator and mural artist from Romania. He studied graphics at the University of Art in Cluj Napoca and after his first contact with graffiti culture on a trip to the U.S., he came back to Cluj and together with a few friends he founded the street art collective “The Playground”. He began by experimenting with tags and stickers, did stencils, paste-ups and finally murals. Ever since he’s kept busy: numerous collaborations with various artists, personal and group exhibitions, both local and international, illustrations or murals commissioned by different clients, he lived in Cluj, Bucharest, Timișoara, Berlin, Lisbon. He created them all in his trademark style which he’s currently developing through technical and conceptual experiments designed for displaying in galleries. Coming up – Saddo’s recent projects, our blog’s new background theme and other tidbits.

First, fill in the blanks:

My strongest childhood memory… the strongest ones are the crazy ones, about all the silly things I used to do with my brother. A funny memory is from when I made a sort of photo-montage, I took one of my grandfather’s wedding photos, cut out his head and glued it to Arnold’s or some other body-builder’s body. Grandpa didn’t find it funny and chased me around the courtyard until my grandma explained that my intention was “to make him stronger”.

My first street art work was… some silly character, a sort of dumb and basic bunny I sprayed on the walls in Cluj, a kind of extremelly bad and primitive tag.

A recurring dream I have… I don’t really remember my dreams, they’re usually about crazy things that make no sense.

I never want to… lose weight.

I’m great at cooking… pumpkin and cauliflower soup, I don’t exactly like it, but Heliana does. And veggie burrito. My secret name is Burrito Jesus.

The most beautiful city to me is… I’d say Lisbon or Venice, but I haven’t been in a lot of cities. There may be others more beautiful.

When I get bored… I watch TV series, play Candy Crush or Plants vs Zombies.

I think that art makes me… feel like I have a purpose or some meaning in life.

Saddo-Bangkok,Thailand

And now, the intervies:

Neon: Hello! How’s the summer going over at your place?

Saddo: Hey! I’m on a little break at the moment, having worked for about half an year for the “Rise of The Bird People” exhibition in Viana do Castelo, Portugal, and for a joint exhibition with Aitch, “Coffins”, for La Petite Mort Gallery, in Ottawa, Canada. I’m currently doing research, looking up stuff online, images, inspiration, myths, stories about all kinds of gods and creatures from different mythologies. I’m trying to come up with a subject and a structure for my next exhibition in the spring of 2015.

N: Tell us how starting out was, „The Playground” stage?

S: It was fun and refreshing, I had just graduated from college and finished my master’s course and I felt like I hadn’t learned anything and I didn’t have any more passion for what I was doing, like I didn’t know what I wanted to do etc. I happened to get into graffiti and street art during that period and together with a friend, Gabi, a former colleague from university, I started thinking, talking, dreaming about a small street art collective in Cluj. We made a website together, looked for other people who were doing things and I sort of hit refresh, started anew, tried to forget what I was doing in school, I went through a period of a few years when I didn’t draw anymore. And step by step, through street art, I began to rediscover that drawing is actually very fun. We’d go out a lot to put up stickers, paste-ups, draw on walls. It’s been a while since I did anything on the street, for the past few years I’ve been focusing on studio work, for exhibitions. I don’t really enjoy working hastily, I like taking my time to do something challenging from a technical viewpoint, which yield a much more impressive result. Street art is still a state of mind for me, a way of looking at art that’s more relaxed and free. But of course every time I get the chance to do a mural, I go for it. Though I do enjoy having time, a lot of paint etc. so that I can do what I like.

Saddo – The Painted Shield

N: Is there a difference between an illustator with a background in street art and one who hasn’t had works on display in the public space?

S: I don’t think you really have to go through a street art phase, for me it was a liberating experience, dar probabil depinde de preferinţele fiecăruia.

N: Which of the mediums you tested is closest to your heart?

S: Lately I prefer working with acrylic on thick paper, but it’s more of a whim, I wouldn’t be able to commit to it because it’s very time consuming, it’s a process / technique which takes days, many layers of paint, details etc. I choose to work on canvas more because it’s slightly faster and has a different, more plastic feel to it, a bit artsier, unlike paintings done on paper, which are more graphic, bordering illustration. And of course murals, I like doing them and I wish I had the time and opportunity to do it more often, to try to translate my recent work on canvas or paper into a mural, I think it would be a nice challenge.

N: You make a living out of drawing. Is it like a job or more like a passion which pays?

S: It’s a passion, it’s also a job, it’s everything. This is basically my life, drawing, painting, working for exhibitions, doing murals, illustrations etc.

N: About two months ago you had your first solo show, “Rise of The Bird People”. What brought about this theme?

S: The majority of my recent works feature avian images: bird-headed characters, human-headed birds, birds with legs, birds in coffins etc. And at some point I did a piece for a group exhibition, with a kind of bird-headed conquistador, astride a humanoid creature. The piece was called “Rise of The Bird People”. I really liked the way the name sounded, it had an apocalyptic ring to it, a mixture of Hitchcock’s Birds and Planet of The Apes. And living in Lisbon I kept coming across images of explorers, travel, colonialism etc. So I thought I’d add a twist to the image of the conquistador, put a bird head on him. This led to a sort of story, a world in a distant alternate future, where people have almost self-destructed as a civilization and birds have massively evolved and began reenacting human history, they themselves becoming conquerors, colonialists, and people are forced to go back to living on the run, closer to nature. It’s a type of payback for the bad things people did, for destroying the environment, animal species, and for their violent history as colonists and leeches. And visually I was inspired most of all by the illustrations of conquistadors, where they’re portrayed as beautiful and proud and spectacular. Renaissance portraits, travel illustration, fight scenes from Islamic miniatures, Oriental floral patterns, sci-fi and fantasy books and movies – these are basically the places I go back to for inspiration, for this exhibition in particular and for everything I do in general.

Saddo – Study

N: You’re working on yet another exhibition, in Canada. We’d like to know more about that too.

S: Canada will be hosting an exhibition which has been scheduled since last year when I went there with Aitch for “The Garden of Good & Evil“, our series of tandem exhibits. We were invited to host another one in an year, at the La Petite Mort gallery. Meanwhile we’ve been super busy moving from Bucharest to Lisbon, preparing solo exhibitions etc. and we started thinking about our new joint show this winter in Lisbon. That was one of the worst times, we had moved to Lisbon with an exotic and sunny image in mind and were taken aback by the gloomy rainy winter, we couldn’t get out of the house, it was cold and damp and dark inside… so we said let’s put together a super-dark exhibition with a really ghoulish subject which would reflect our mood. That’s how we came up with the title – COFFINS. Except that between the moment we decided what to do and the moment when we actually started working spring came, then summer, we started to feel ok. And our works are somehow very sunny, colorful, luxurious but with a dark and grim content. I think it works better this way, it’s more unexpected and fun, a bit ironic, a bit poetic etc. So the exhibition is called COFFINS, it’s a joint Aitch & Saddo exhibit, at the La Petite Mort gallery in Ottawa, Canada, it opens on August 15 and lasts until August 28. Here you can find images and details from all the works on display.

Saddo – Coffin

N: You and Aitch are an unbeatable duo! How does it feel to travel and work constantly alongside your girlfriend?

S: It’s nice, it’s like an adventure, a book or a TV show 🙂 It’s really great when we have exhibitions together and travel to different cities and countries, or when we have to do murals. We painted walls together in Israel, Hungary, Canada, we’ve had works on display in Canada, Portugal, Austria, Germany etc. Of course we have our ups and downs, moments when one of us is having a creative block while the other is very productive, it can get a bit frustrating, but those are short periods and we generally have fun doing everything together.

Saddo – Coffin

N: You were saying you want to come back to Romania. What’s the plan?

S: One or two years ago we kept wanting to live in Lisbon, it was our dream and we had to do it, but after spending a year here we feel like we’re on a vacation which got extended a bit too much, and we want to go back to Romania, at least for a while longer, so we can feel at home, safer and more at ease. That’s the plan. I’d like to paint some murals in Romania, that would be nice. And maybe we get an exhibition somewhere locally too, I don’t know where. And leave again after that, who knows.

N: Thanks for the insight and background! Peace!

S: Thank you too for the feature, I hope it proves of interest to someone :) Cheers!

Saddo-Budapest,Hungary

3 Comments
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