LSD Magazine interviews Otto Schade

Issue Four – Unauthorised Heroes – April 18th 2010


How did an architect go from designing buildings to actually painting on them?

Well, that’s a good question. Architects and art are always related, that’s why there are a big percentage of Architects that also paint or make sculptures. The thing is that I paint because in Architecture there are always freedom restrictions (or the client, or the Council, or the budget, etc) but in Art you are absolutely free to do whatever you want. I paint on canvas since 1996 but I started here in London with street art just last year, after realizing that was so difficult to achieve to exhibit my work in a gallery where I don’t have to hire the space. At the same time another street artist friend, PXL convinced me. For me Art is for the people and need to be shown. Nothing better that being judge as an artist by common people, public space then (the city where you live). I think is easier as an Architect to find the “eye catch” wall and as an artist sometimes you see a seductive wall looking at you waiting to be treated as it deserve. By the other side, doing graffiti on walls you are not allowed is so risky, but the adrenaline makes you going on just because you want to see your work finished, even if the police catch you. You just would like them to let you finish it.

You’ve exhibited your work in many different countries, how has the world responded to your art so far?

I am interested in show my work everywhere just because art is a way to express something and I want my work to be seen by many different cultures. I have very good respond from the people, the best one was from the people in Moscow. I had a very comfortable reception because maybe I came from Chile  (I even sold 9 small pieces). One of my best experiences ever was in gallery in Berlin, 3 deaf-and-dumb guys came to me because they wanted to explain me (in their own way) what do they were seeing in my surreal piece, I got impressed on what they explained to me. I really loved it.

I have to say that I don’t sell too much, but as a negative (or positive)  respond from the people, 11 of my paintings have been stolen (1 in Chile, 8 in New York and 3 in London) and I could recover only one (unbelievable but thanks to CCTV cameras in Camberwell School of Arts). Another recent and a bit funny experience was a friends restaurant in the city where I come from (Concepcion-Chile). I left one of my pieces there and after the earthquake, the restaurant was destroyed, fortunately the painting didn’t get any damage but a thief was running away with it and my friend caught him.

Why did you decide to settle in London as opposed to other arty cities?

To be honest I didn’t want to come to live in London after living in Berlin for 2 years. That amazing city (but very cold in winter) to produce art is really good but to sell not too much. So I decided to get a job as an Architect and due to high  unemployment level  in Berlin, I couldn’t get an interesting job. Then I received a nice offer from England afterwards I decided moved to London , also the diversity of the arts is infinite.

How important is the cityscape to surrealists?

It’s an amazing stage. I think of street art here in London have this surreal thing that amaze us (from stencil art to hand paint art).From my point of view we can learn a lot from Surrealism. There is nothing better than changing a surface into a space, for example, just painting a brick from the wall black and then painting some hands and a sort of face on the black brick ( now this black brick became a hole ) attached 1. Or just confusing the people playing with the perspectives as Escher or Dali did. I also get impressed by these weird creatures and faces from crazy dreams you find here in London walking around Shoreditch. Surrealism feeds our imagination, I can’t live without it.

We’ve featured your art in past LSD issues; tell us a little about the concept behind your Spider Swan piece on Regents Canal and why you placed it in that spot.

That was one of my first experiences painting illegal walls. The idea was making a sort of gift to Regents Canal, more for sailors than for the pedestrians because actually, you need some distance to really see this stuff. So a tunnel was a good place to situate a big spider with brush legs painting swans. Eyes are part of the things I love to paint incorporating them as part of bodies or like witnesses of what I was doing or on what people see from them.

What motivated your decision to place art on the streets?

Show what I feel to everyone and not just who has the money to buy a paint (even when we need to sell to carry on). It’s a way to express yourself to almost anyone and maybe to express as well the feelings of more people.

Is your street work a reaction to world events?

Yes, some of my street art stuff is a reaction to world events (“Hunted by the system”, “No comment”, “Welcome” or “Enough”) attached 2-5. There are so many different ways to make street art but to me is very important to give a message to the people, even is a way to protest (in an artistic way).

Who influenced your earlier work what influences your work today?

I have been always influenced by Salvador Dali, Max Ernst and Roberto Matta. And lately I have been influenced by Beksinsky, Giger. And the sarcastic messages from Banksy.

Do you have any exhibitions planned for the UK this summer?

I have just one collective exhibition planned for April called “No Refund” (space and date not clear yet), 2 more maybe in June but not clear yet. Honestly I am really bad to promote my work and I hate to spend my time knocking galleries doors to get an exhibition for free. I know that I have to do it but now I am focused on a Urban Sculpture I would like to built ( I need to look for  some funds ), teaching Architecture at Southbank University and doing new art work.

Where is the line between street art and vandalism?

This is a topic I would really like to talk about. I see street art as a GIFT, on the way of materializing an idea or a concept behind. What I really find vandalism is what I have heard is called “Tagging”; I can’t understand the Ego level so high to tag your nickname or your street artist name everywhere. I know some street artist have some respect for hand drawn work but for stencil works they don’t care and they tag on them, thing that grieve me. Instead of tagging why don’t they paint something better over? If they can’t do it, don’t do vandalism instead. My first experience with vandalism was in Concepcion, Chile. I built a sculpture in a Park, once it was finish was immediately tagged (attached pictures before – after) 6-7, that was a very bad new focused on vandalism in the locals newspapers. The point is  the shape and the materiality, the sculpture was inviting to be tagged. But after thinking about it, I would preferred the sculpture to be the tagged completely in a smoothly way, as a sort of texture or writing a story for example related to the context. I would really prefer that the policemen can have the option to decide on time what is vandalism and what is not, so you can do your job in a more relaxing way.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with us?

I would like to add on relation to Street Art, that this not just communicate something  straight to the people (I mean not just related to one building), it can also communicate pieces of work from different buildings. You can create stories that can been seen or understood just from some specific points from the city or the story could be different depending on the point of view. And thinking about “walls”, because it’s a surface where you have an internal and a n external side you can show something in one way to the outside and in another way to the inside. There are a lot of more interesting things coming on street art for sure, but we just need the spaces.

Otto Schade Website

Issue Four – Unauthorised Heroes – April 18th 2010