Joe Madeira is an artist whose practice engages with the human condition as examined through the multiple lenses of gender, identity, embodiment and voyeurism. Currently working with the aid of an iPad Pro and an Apple pencil he creates large scale digital drawings that employ humour and fiction to question meaning. Part narrative, part fantasy and part autobiography, the work questions our own ridiculousness and absurdity in the world.
Born in Portugal, Madeira completed a Masters of Philosophy at the Royal College of Art in 1996 with a research paper in ‘Post-Humanism: The post-modern idea of self’. Between 1997 and 2007 he worked in corporate identity and branding. In 2008 he returned to art by opening CABIN - a project space in London where he exhibited emerging artists such as Michael O’Reilly, Gabriella Boyd, Jonny Briggs, Kate Lyddon, Charles Richardson and Zhu Tian. “This was an extremely educational period for me - both as curator and artist - to be able to re-connect with contemporary art,” Madeira explains. This period was also one of intense personal development, subsequently informing much of his current art practice. In 2016 he closed the gallery to focus entirely on his art practice.
Working from memory, his digital drawings are an investigation of thinking, rather than observation. As such, they seek to act as a production of the unconscious. Madeira often starts by creating a fictional space, a stage where allusions to the body are displayed and become curiosities. These bodily parts are reimagined as a collection or agglomeration of desires, anxieties and fantasies. It becomes a spectacle that both conflates seriousness and humour, a mixture of cynicism and reverence to the brutality and vanity of contemporary society.
The drawings are often intensely built up with a plethora of mark-making techniques such as airbrushing, graphite, oil paint and chalk but also with other digital brushes that he creates and are only possible with this digital medium such as hair, skin and light. The juxtaposition of styles and techniques adds to the complexity and hysteria of Madeira’s work. “The digital drawing for its immediacy not only allows me to free my creative process but also to question the legacy of traditional mark-making tools against totally new ones.”