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A Conversation with Rigo ‘00

As well as your bold color and graphic style, your name generates a great deal of interest. Why do you change your name every year and how did that come about?

The name itself came about while in high school on Madeira Island, Portugal. Together with some teachers and other students I started a ‘zine called "ISTO" (this). Some of the material in the ‘zine was politically and sexually sensitive, so the teachers thought best not to have their real names on it for job security reasons. We all scrambled our names up and mine came out Rigo. This was in 1982, and as a way to obscure or further attach one's identity to something other than family lineage, I adopted the ever changing date as my surname. That's how it came about, as for the reason why (I change it every year), that changes all the time.

Politics, social activism, and cultural issues as well as formal art concerns such as landscape, color, and form play a part in your complex body of work. How do you balance all of these concerns?

Precariously, and always allowing enough room to learn from each situation and individual I'm fortunate enought to work with.

What or who was the impetus for your "Making Made in Taiwan" series?

The main impetus behind this series was to paint images of this faraway, imagined place from where so many toys and tools came from when I was growing up. The ominous "Made in Taiwan" is ubiquitous, and in my childhood it was associated with toys. When in 1997 I had a chance to visit Taipei, by now 'a thriving Asian metropolis' in news lingo, I was completely looking forward to it. I came back with such a lasting impression of the place and the people I met, that I decided to use my couple hundred slides and six weeks worth of experience as a departure point for a series of paintings.

The paintings can be linked to the type of imagery in cardboard game boxes. The city, Taipei, Taiwan, itself is depicted a bit as if a location on a fictional play-place. Mimicking the fragmentation implied in the exporting of millions of objects from this island with "Made in Taiwan" stamped on them, I wanted to paint a portrait of this place from varied locations. These particular paintings were painted in several locations in California and Sweden.

Your work stems from communication with and for real people and is about making sense of real situations. Clearly, you are not an artist who isolates himself from the world. What role do you think the artist has in society today?

There are potentially as many roles for art in our society as there are artists. In fact we live in such a pluralist and overstimulated environment that there are even different societies being addressed by different artists. The type of role I see for myself is to remain part of the open and sensitive strands of whichever society I'm mostly engaged with. As artists we argue for the consideration and acknowledgement of cultural phenomena that might otherwise be overlooked. As artists we are communicators, and for me there is no bigger thrill than to communicate with as varied an audience as possible.