Diogo Machado – aka Add Fuel – is a Portuguese artist who defies categorisation. And he produces work that is equally hard to fit into a particular idiom.
Think of him as a highly skillful illusionist with an untreatable case of tile addiction; a street artist with a sideways sense of humour; or as a profoundly-serious artist with much to say about perception, value and media. He is all three … and more.
So what does Add Fuel do? Well, in Lisbon, Portugal, he recently turned an urban utility box into a 3D ceramic tile illusion. The artwork (What lies beneath is always what it was) formed part of the Trampolins Gerador Project organized by Mistaker Maker: an initiative designed to revitalize this shabby urban area through music, performance, food, photography, intervention, urban art, workshops, talks, etc, etc.
These electricity boxes have proved popular and stimulating to Add Fuel for some time now. Other examples stemmed from being challenged by the nice people from Muraliza to paint four boxes in his hometown of Cascais. Fuel reports that painting urban objects like this is both a lot of fun and extremely rewarding.
But Add Fuel’s work is also trying to make a serious point that our cities have an inner beauty that many of their inhabitants cannot, or will not, see because they are not looking carefully enough or, in fact, looking at all. Add Fuel’s contention is that beauty is all around us and can lie under or on any object … we just need to really open our eyes.
Add Fuel has built a solid reputation as a visual and graphic artist in recent years. Having first created a unique visual universe populated by sci-fi inspired, fun-loving creatures, he has recently redirected his attention to reinterpreting the language of traditional tile design, and the Portuguese azulejo, in particular. Brimming with irony and humour, his vector-based designs, or stencil-based street interventions, reveal an impressive complexity and a masterful attention to detail.
His work has recently been seen in Ovar, a city known as the home of Portugeses azulejo. This installation in front of a church features a direct re-interpretation and homage to the building’s ceramic façade.
Add Fuel has also used tile as an art medium further afield. In 2012, while in London for the Spaces Within show at the Pure Evil Gallery, he brought some little pieces that recall Portuguese tile tradition and also pasted a panel with the same aesthetics as the ones presented in the ‘Spaces Within’ show; which re-interpretated traditional English medieval tiles.
The Dawson-esque piece entitled Désintégration; my room; my environment was created by Add Fuel for what was billed as ‘the world’s biggest street art exhibition’: la Tour Paris 13. In this project by Galerie Itinerrance, a Portuguese team curated by Wool, Add Fuel developed a virtual space of disturbing detail. Intricate stencilling, claustrophobic patterns and carved words are set of by a surprise ceramic tile in the middle of the patterns.
On an even larger scale, Add Fuel’s contribution to the Walk & Talk Public Art Festival in Ponta Delgada, Azores islands formed part of the artist’s Morphing Series. This tiled mural consists of five independent modules that create an apparent sense of deconstruction throughout the entire piece.
Like all of Add Fuel’s azulejo work, it rewards close and detailed inspection: true visual appreciation. This reveals that all five modules interconnect and create a ‘disguised unity’. 30 metres long, by 1.8 metres (left) and 0.3 metres (right), this piece was made in partnership with leading Portugese tile manufacturer Revigrés.
A new post by Joe Simpson, Diary of a Tile Addict, April 2017.