Luiza Teixeira de Freitas Q + A

October 25, 2019Q + A

Photo by Gonçalo F. Santos

The Brazilian curator lives and works in Lisbon. In March she gave Partners in Art members a tour of her Madrid show There will never be a door. You’re Inside., featuring over 300 pieces from her father’s art collection. On October 26 she and curator Rui Mateus Amaral led the PIA salon, Notes on Collecting and Curating.

How did your art career begin?

When I was 16 my father started collecting contemporary art and I became interested in what he was doing from the very start. I followed him around to exhibitions, biennials, museums and art fairs. At 18 when I started studying journalism at university, I also started working as a registrar for the collection and did my first courier jobs. I have always loved working and being active, so when I was studying I would look for different opportunities and apply for every kind of internship. For example when I did Erasmus program in Milan, I interned at Flash Art, then at 22 I had my first serious paid internship outside of the collection realm – at Alexander and Bonin in New York.

What was your first successful art project?

I can think of two projects, both happened during my MFA at Goldsmiths in 2010. One as a group, with two other colleagues Thom O’Nions and Oliver Martinez-Kandt, we curated a group show The Moon is an Arrant Thief at the David Roberts Art Foundation in London. It was a really beautiful experience and had such a nice repercussion, I was very proud of it and very happy and energized to be working with two people full of knowledge and drive. The second project was the first group exhibition I curated on my own, Like Tears in Rain, it happened in Porto, Portugal and was a real challenge.

What is your greatest achievement?

I’m not sure I can speak of a greatest achievement at this point in my life. But, professionally speaking, I would like to think it has been to build an independent career, be respected by my peers and most of all be true to myself, as I always like to put it, that the work I do, my choices and decisions “let me sleep at night”.

Is there a common thread running throughout your work?

There probably is. I have always been a lover of books and stories. So, a lot of my work weaves around some kind of storytelling.

What do you do if you need inspiration?

I think inspiration comes from simple things – like enjoying a nice lunch with a good friend. I’m luckily surrounded by people that are great inspirations hubs. I also exchange a lot of ideas with my husband Gonçalo, who is a scientist and thinks of the world in a different way, I think looking outside of our realm is very important. More practical things that really make my brain going – getting outside for a long run, taking a very hot shower very late at night or turning off my phone and focusing on life around me.

Which artists do you admire most?

My childhood favourite artists were and in a way still are, René Magritte and Cy Twombly, I have loved his Four Seasons paintings, since I can remember loving art. Funny enough I ended being an intern at Tate Modern for his exhibition. During my time at the Tate I also worked for Cildo Meireles’ exhibition and I think he was definitely my first real artist “crush”, I was in awe of his work and have admired him ever since. Damian Ortega has also been one of my long-time favourites, he is a true artist in his essence, very rare to find these days – humble, generous and so intelligent – qualities I admire a lot. Frances Stark is another admiration, her exhibition at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles a couple of years ago, was so good and touched me so much, that at the end I just sat down and wept, such was the effect it had on me. Lastly, but definitely not least important is Alexandre Estrela, a more recent discovery on my end (he has been around and working for many years), is someone with whom I have worked many times these past years and that has really taught me so much, not only about experimental film, around which his practice revolves, but so many other subjects, especially on how to look at life from a completely different glance, kind of sideways.

Have any Canadian artists caught your attention?

Michael Snow, Rodney Graham, Janet Cardiff, Agnes Martin, General Idea and there is also Abbas Akhavan from Toronto.

Is there an artist you like that would surprise people?

Max Hooper Schneider is someone I would love to work with, his work is always surprising. It has not happened yet but hopefully will.

What advice do you have for aspiring curators?

Most of all to always remember that the artists and the art is what it’s all about at the end of the day, we are just facilitators. Be true to yourself, work hard, be passionate and remember that when you are working for the public, no matter how well you do, you will be criticized – don’t let that stop you.

Who would you want to create your portrait?

Abraham Cruzvillegas

What was the most challenging part of mounting your father’s collection at Santander Gallery?

It was an extremely ambitious exhibition. Not only because of the number of works, but because of their nature. Many of them required specific materials, long working hours and huge production work. It was definitely my biggest challenge to date.

What surprised you the most once it was mounted and complete?

How it really made sense together. Every corner and bit of it was in dialogue and managed to be harmonious in a very strong way. My curatorial work might have helped, but this happened because all the work was acquired and appreciated with true thought behind it.

How did your father, Luiz Augusto Teixeira de Freitas, respond to seeing the exhibition?

In the beginning he was taking a step back and letting me work, but once installation started and things had a rhythm and adrenaline, he started coming to Madrid every week, wanting to participate fully, which was very special. My father is someone that hates being in the spotlight and is not a queen at all in showing the collection as a whole like we did – it took a lot of convincing. So for him it was very emotional to see a good part of the works together, out of their crates, just making sense in the world.

What advice do you have for starting an art collection?

A collection needs to be a mirror of who you are. I work with a couple of private collectors and the first thing I tell people who want my help building their collections is that it makes no sense that after a couple of years of working together the collection becomes a reflection of my work – it always needs to be a reflection of who they are. I just point out the many possible directions. Find a balance between gut feeling and timely reflection and you are on a good path. Also, to see as much as art as possible in all of its contexts. Look, read, find out more, there is nothing bigger or more rewarding that knowledge.

Follow Luiza Teixeira de Freitas

Instagram @lulytf