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Cadu is a Brazilian artist born in Sao Paulo in 1977 that today lives and works in Rio de Janeiro. After completing his Bachelors degree in painting, and his Masters degree in Drawing, he decided to become an art teacher while finishing his PHD on Interdisciplinary Languages. He has participated in many art exhibitions, like in 2000, the 1stRumos” exhibition, sponsored by ITAU cultural in Sao Paulo and more recently (2008) in the Collective Show Desenho em todos os sentidos at Galeria Vermelho.

He was also invited to participate in a residency program in the United Kingdom (selected by the International Fellowship Program supported by the Arts Council of England).


The recurrent issues in his works are about discipline, tentative, catastrophy and love, using the environment and the landscape as active actors. Since childhood, Cadu always liked to create mechanisms with his toys. Today, the more complex mechanisms he invents, are a tool to create “these kinds of strange relationships” between man and nature, as another form of language. Not good at playing instruments, he focused on creating his own “instruments”, being the only one to know how to play them. Always looking for new concepts, he is driven by his curiosity to try and to understand.

Philosophy is part of his every day life and integrated in his art. He enjoys the exchange with very different people, but only believes in hard work, the process must be an everyday search.



A small group of students, professors and researchers arrived in Cadu’s house in the afternoon. From the entrance door, the Christ was looking down on us. In his back yard, Cadu had prepared some seats and a screen. The meeting lasted an hour and a half and the questions were many, for the artist was open and willing to answer them in a very transparent way.

Cadu’s Artworks

Cadu talked about his first steps as an artist in Rio: “there was nowhere to show Art, no galleries.  The only way for artists to show their work was to be selected in the “National Salons”. So we had to find independent places. We rented a house in Santa Teresa with some friends. No one wanted to show our work so we did it. During six years, we rented rooms, made parties and showed our works as well as the works for artists that are today famous in Brazil. Some gallerists would come to us for we were showing good artists, but we had no power.”

His creative process is a constant experimentation. By forming some “mechanisms”, constructions, he links the technical tools to the philosophical quest, trying to go beyond. At that moment, once the material is working, the artist waits for a surprise, almost as an act of faith. Everything belongs to nature so nature should “talk”.

He is also very involved in drawing. He defines drawing as a simple structure between two surfaces, used to create a mark. He compares this process to life:  “life is like that: you have a surface and every kind of impact leaves marks.”

Looking for experiences, also means always remaining a foreigner so that the risk allows you to go beyond. Cadu explained this point quoting his experience in drawing: “I drew so much that I became, maybe, too good. And I want to be too good in nothing, I want to stay a foreigner in every kind of area of knowledge, to experiment always. I am not interested in creating a style. When you become too good in something, you don’t risk anymore, and risking is the situation in which you find yourself being in the abysses of your capacities.”

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Some of his Artworks:

Nefelibata means inhabitants of the clouds in Portuguese. The concept consisted of a mechanic system creating drawings by measuring the direction and velocity of the wind. After completing 4 drawings, the machine broke. At the end of 2007, ITAU Cultural accepted to repair the machine in order to exhibit the piece in a gallery. The drawings produced during the show were the visual representation of the wind on Avenida Paulista in Sao Paulo.

The machine took 45 hours to create a piece, working 1.30 hour during mornings and afternoons.

Cadu chose to focus on the wind since a lot of his works use natural elements. Besides, he is always willing to push the limits of landscape drawing creating interfaces so that, by the use of the elements, an image can be created. This way, he never knows exactly what the final image of the piece will be.



Artwork for RUMOS: The piece presented at the RUMOS exhibition in 2000 in Sao Paulo consisted of a block of tracing paper (24 shits of paper -> for each hour of the day) with a lens oriented towards the paper. During the day, the sun burnt the paper. Depending on the intensity of the sun, the paper would get more or less burnt, forming a visual black line. Everyday, the artist changed the paper to let the sun draw it’s new image. The black curve’s form made a different drawing depending on the season.

Directions: The installation was made of independent little cars (from about 10 cm each). From those ordinary toys with batteries, he made “drawing robots” attaching an ink pen at the back of the car. The cars, placed on a large squared white paper, would run, hit and turn until the pen used up all the ink. The same toys having the same behaviors created some strange patterns.

The number of went from 3 to 5 when the pattern disappears. When 7 cars, the chaos is so big that the cars stop.

The movement of the cars becomes a kind of ballet, a dance. The artist raises a common mathematical problem called EMEGENCY: ” When you have a system with no leader, you work together: ants work like that.”

In Twelve month, the artist spent one year drawing how much energy one receives during a year. The project was a full year of discipline, of everyday work to create one small piece of Art.

For Multiplicidade, a sound festival organized by his friend, the designer Batman, he was asked to create a performance with sound. White guitars that had never been used were displayed in a room. Nice artists from Rio that did not know how to play guitar arrived in a big limo and entered the room of the white guitars. One by one, the artists came to the stage without knowing what they had to do. They started playing freely under the effect of mescaline. Fourteen minutes of cacophonia trying to meet in sound, but with no strategy. This strong experience was either loved or hated, but different from an everyday, expected experience.


The Winner’s Anthem was a piece focusing on noise. By using all the results of the lottery winners in Brazil, he makes music introducing the winning cards in small music boxes. He is creating a big opera of the winners, something like the sound of happiness.

Other projects: Cadu also works with Berliner, an other brazilian artist with whom he made a series of drawings.


 What is your necessity in making Art?

Cadu is looking for a transcendental aspect by trying: “even a stupid idea, if you try to push it, maybe it becomes something different, stronger, more powerful.” To him, what makes a good artist is hard work, discipline and a very honest commentary about our time, a city, things that touch our lives.

He explains his quest: “I like to create pieces and the only place in which you can create like that is in the art arena. I do the same things I was doing when I was 12, but with more expensive toys.

I am looking for those patterns for I know, these patterns are outside, but also inside of you (but you don’t notice it anymore). Using those interfaces, make a fair relationship with the landscape as a way to reunite the self with the person. Something that should sound or look familiar.”

Art in Brazil

The artist pictures Brazil as young country in the art world: “We still don’t know who we are, we are still looking for ourselves. We are not organized as artists, we don’t know exactly what we want. But we put too much attention, energy in institutions (as validation of the quality of it’s art”. Not more than 10 years ago, art universities were still very traditional and since they belonged to the government, were poorly equipped (no water).

Today in Brazil, money talks and Institutions are the first gatekeepers. An artist has to choose carefully who he wants to associate his name with, for the institutions are labels.

According to Cadu, one of the major problems is that, although Brazil had good artists in the past, it is time for new names to become a reference. He gives the example of Bossa Nova as a reference for music, but with no new names coming up. Since art in Brazil is still considered a social status and a political tool, the art structures are “very poisoned and no one battles in the same direction.”

There is also a question of the quality of art exhibited. For him, too many works are for art school level and the artists that created them will not last longer than two years on the market. These short-term movements are not good for the market or for the art itself.

How is an artist perceived in Brazil?


Poor you, you have no money but you have the freedom to do what you like, so that is a luck” would be the first general perception of an artist in Brazil, a little old fashioned. The “I am an artist” claim in Brazil is common, for it is also associated to the romantic side of the personality.

But being an artist is not an easy job. In Europe, the competition is much bigger than in Brazil where you compete because of your work or because you are the son of someone important and you have good friends. As Cadu said, “It’s a different kind of competition”.


Courtesy of Cadu

By Stephanie Serra

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