From Kurt Schwitter’s Das Undbild to Matisse’s Blue Nude II decoupage, the collage has played a unique and distinctive role in modern art. By implementing mixed media, textures and text, the collage artist is free to create vibrant compositions that land somewhere between the fantastical and allegorical. The format is seeing something of a resurgence in popularity in the digital age, with electronic media and computer tools adding yet another layer to the possibilities of this visual art form.
One artist who captures this meeting point between contemporary and classical art is Andreia Azevedo. The 21-year old Portuguese artist already began “exploring the possibilities of artistic collage” while studying visual arts in high school, and has since honed her craft as a Visual Arts student and with the foundation of her personal project, PAPER RAID.
“I consider myself a creative person with the head in the clouds, but at the same time always paying attention to all the details,” Azevedo tells WOM of her creative aspirations. “The fragments of paper I cut and put together are my tools to open a new world and send messages. One of my greatest interests is to observe the way that the various artistic practices communicate and I use collage to connect with people, feelings and ideas.”
The power of collage lies exactly in this space in between different forms, developing and creating new narratives within this expanse of endless opportunity. “When the printed images are torn, when the textures are confronted, when the pieces of paper are assembled together, when ideas collide, there’s always something meaningful happening,” considers the artist. “It goes way beyond paper, and I like it.”
Azevedo’s works present vivid and whimsical re-imaginings of classical art and vintage advertisement images, from marble busts adorned with floral bouquets to figures whose features have been transplanted with foodstuffs and miniature landscapes. In one piece, a headless suited figure holds the sculpture of a head as she indicates that utopia lies only 8,555km in the other direction. Such details point to an overlap between time and space, one in which our ideals and assumptions are challenged and derided.
“I think my collage work lies in a structure that comes from sensations and through them it is possible to produce a new life, a new organic form,” says the artist. “I like to explore the human body in synergy with nature and the loss of identity. The paradox of identification and estrangement, residing or not residing in a body.”
Indeed, the manipulation of recognisable visual tropes can represent a subtle but powerful method of social and political commentary. “One of the things that fascinates me in collage is the fact that the artwork is made from a set of different shapes and fragments, that allow the creation of new realities,” Azevedo continues. “I could point out the fact that we are saturated with images on a daily basis. Advertisement is probably the first example to come to mind but let’s not forget pictograms, instructions, entertainment and such. What we know and what we believe affects the way we see things.”
Of finding inspiration for her creations, Azevedo notes that her main source of material comes from magazines and newspapers. Using visual culture as a narrative tool, she often flips through old publications to find interesting imagery — “the act of searching for collage material often takes the outcome to new and unexpected places” — or seeking specific images that can be re-appropriated to tell a different story. “Inspiration can be anywhere,” she notes. “It is related to how everyday things communicate with me.”
To see more of Azevedo’s works, see here.