Drawing upon his sculptural knowledge, Portuguese artist David Oliveira uses metal wire to create 3D representations of humans and animals. Playing with natural gravity, shapes and shadows, Oliveira’s work gives the sensation of time and spacelessness, and yet still accomplishes active realism through art. Taking the time to speak with me, Oliveira shares how he first began drawing in the air.

David Oliveira

Oliveira’s work gives the sensation of time and spacelessness, and yet still accomplishes active realism through art.

Giulia Catani: Can you tell our readers a bit about yourself? What has led you to becoming so passionate about art?

David Oliveira: I was born in Lisbon 35 years ago and have always loved to draw. I graduated in Sculpture at the Fine Arts University of Lisbon in 2008, where I had specialised in ceramics. After that, I started using wire to represent forms.

GC: Where did you learn to compose sculptures using this technique?

DO: I’m a trained sculptor, but I needed freedom in my forms and wire allows me to go where I want. I researched what other artists were doing with this material, and began to experiment myself, getting closer to what I had in mind.

Seal, Full Motion / Movimento Total, 2015

OctopusFull Motion / Movimento Total, 2015

Metal wire allows for a line resistant to gravity or allied with even more wires; it can be very resistant or very light and volatile.

GC: What do you enjoy about working with metal wire? Have you ever thought of using other materials?

DO: Metal wire allows for a line resistant to gravity or allied with even more wires; it can be very resistant or very light and volatile. It maintains its properties for a long time, but it is also easy to follow its degradation, which is great to represent natural life. Wire is easy to find, and is available in different thicknesses but I often combine it with other materials, depending on the idea.

GrarcaFull Motion / Movimento Total, 2015

CegoFull Motion / Movimento Total, 2015

I’m fascinated with life’s diversity. My favourite animal is probably the human.

GC: What is it about animals that fascinate you?

DO: I’m fascinated with life’s diversity. My favourite animal is probably the human, because it speaks in a language I can communicate with.

GC: Can you talk us through the process of creating one of your works? Do you start off with a simple sketch? How long does each piece take?

DO: Usually I don’t draw in 2D, I go straight to the wire. I combine all the information that helps me to understand what I want to represent, and then I start. The mental process is much the same as drawing.

MedusaFull Motion / Movimento Total, 2015

TucaFull Motion / Movimento Total, 2015

I don’t create, I only translate. The beauty is already there!

GC: How important is the space chosen to present your sculptures?
DO: My work is transparent. Either, I choose to place it within a cube and annul the space, or I invite people in to be a part of it.

GC: What would be your dream exhibition space?

DO: I would love to exhibit in Tate Modern London’s stair space. I would fill it with six whales dancing in the air: this is what makes me passionate, and of course, the idea of being able to show something so beautiful. I don’t create, I only translate. The beauty is already there!

Raia e AtumFull Motion / Movimento Total, 2015

Be aware of the incredible world we live in. Awareness helps to create empathy. Empathy is what makes us connected.

GC: What kind of message are you hoping to convey through your work?

DO: Be aware of the incredible world we live in. Awareness helps to create empathy. Empathy is what makes us connected.

GC: Where do you see the future of sculpture headed now that 3D printing is becoming increasingly mainstream?

DO: It’s not the medium you use to communicate. It’s the message!

To see more of David Oliveira’s work: http://davidoliveiraescul.wix.com/davidoliveira

Words: Giulia Catani

Artwork: David Oliveira

Photography: Sofia Trindade

Installation view: Full Motion / Movimento Total, 2015 at Lisbon: Rua do Século nº 79