Art & Culture: Jofroi Amaral

14.12.2016

Jofroi Amaral experiments with a wide variety of materials. He questions painting and studies human actions. His interest lies in rituals and the development and structure of myths and pagan philosophies. He paints, for instance, with plants, human bodies, stones, and other objects on canvas. These objects bear traces of an almost ritual, very physical process or an initiation. However, these attempts to paint with items are also acts of failure, since most of them are not suitable as a “brush”. Thus, the works bear traces of an authentic experience by the artist. For Jofroi Amaral, the process and the human/artistic experience are no less important than the aesthetic result.

What is your personal relationship to cycling and bicycles?
Well, I learned to repair and build bicycles very early. I spent my childhood in the countryside and cycling was the only way to go freely from A to B. Later I started to renovate vintage race bikes. You were able to get a lot of them for little money. It was not earning me much money as they were not really a trend yet. With a friend, we were visiting the old bike makers, the ones who had built bicycles for famous Belgian riders, some of them were over 80 year old. We learned all the small tricks about making great bikes. I remember a guy, he was around 70 and he brought me to his place. There was his father, 95 year old, and was building a wheel on front of the TV. He was almost seeing nothing but he could adjust the spoke tension by the sound his fingers were doing on them. I always have been fascinated by those master’s skills and their small secrets.

Bicycles are involved in a lot of your artworks. Without background knowledge, it seems like those differ from the rest of your pieces though. Is that the case and what is your motivation regarding bicycle art?
The bicycles in my art production are a particular story. It started a few years ago when I decided to present bicycles I renovated (which were not properly artworks) in a gallery scenography. I displayed 10 beautiful vintage bicycles as if they were artworks by hanging them on white walls. This was a success. A gallery from Brussels (DnA Lab) saw the pictures of the show and asked me if I could do something similar for them. I accepted. But during the discussions it appears clearly that they were not interested in “cheap” nice vintage bikes and they asked me to build bikes as proper artworks. I liked that challenge and I started production. As it has been a success I continued to do more and these bikes have been presented all over the world in all the big art fairs. Now some of these bikes are in big art collections.
I think it’s also important to say that my bicycles are often cooperation projects I did with bicycles builders as Hojmark Cycles for example or other artists like Saâdane Afif.

You are originally from Belgium but chose to live and work in Berlin. How does the city influence you? What does it offer you that you were missing back home?
Well, Berlin is big, Brussels is small. Anyway, I can say I live in both cities grabbing the best of each. Berlin offers me large space and a vital art scene. Brussels is more cozy – it’s my home town with my old friends and family.

Pictures:

Esprit Nouveau No_9
by Jofroi Amaral & Saâdane Afif

Perdre Haleine
by Jofroi Amaral

Del Campo Bicicletta Gran tourissmo
by Jofroi Amaral & Cédric Bostyn

Zeus
by Jofroi Amaral & Cédric Bostyn

All photo credits : Katharina Kritzler