Curator Nicolas Vamvouklis in conversation with the six international artists participating in the “Beyond Boundaries” residency program at Fabbrica del Vapore in Milan (10-31/01/2024).

João Gomes Gago is a visual artist working mainly with drawing, printmaking, performance and installation. Infusing the spontaneity of gesture and corporeal memory, a relationship is found between cultural, natural and spiritual domains. His creative process unfolds in marks and abstract forms that pulsate energetically. With several awards and nominations, he has exhibited nationally and internationally in countries such as Spain, England, Germany, Slovenia or the state of Florida. He holds an MFA in Drawing and Printmaking from Porto’s Faculty of Fine Arts (BA in Lisbon), having studied Fine Arts at the University of East London.
Nicolas Vamvouklis (NV): How would you describe your artistic practice?
João Gomes Gago (JGG): My practice is fundamentally connected to internal and energetic journeys, which extend beyond the limitations of the space and materials available. It involves navigating a suspended time through gestures, utilizing various mediums such as drawing, painting, installation, or performance. In essence, my work intersects spirituality, ritual, and material culture.
NV: Beyond Boundaries: What was the initial thought that crossed your mind when you encountered this title?
JGG: An immediate relationship emerges amid infinite barriers, beginning with our physical condition and social context. I find this connection in making art — a process that becomes an extraphysical or spiritual encounter, where I release any kind of constraint.
NV: Can you provide some insights into the project you worked on during the residency?
JGG: There exists a very fine space between the moment of action or creative practice and the moment shaped by aesthetic relationships — between the ephemeral and contemplative, between the transient and timeless objects. I position my work on this threshold, where my physical displacement and creative trance find a meeting point with internal and external forces through materials. Within the definition of space, I discover a scenographic dimension in the fragments that compose the diverse unfolding of my studio exploration. Among studies for installations or performative wanderings, enigmatic patterns and shapes also emerge in the paintings that inhabit the large-scale fabrics I’ve worked with.
NV: In which ways did you connect to Milan?
JGG: I rediscovered Milan from the inside out—specifically, from my work area in the Fabbrica del Vapore studio to the city’s circuits. We are consciously or unconsciously influenced by the spaces and architecture we inhabit, work in, or simply spend time in. The sounds of carriages traveling along metal tracks evoke the days when a major rail transport industry began in this very space. The communities that inhabit and energize the area, the daily cultural and leisurely walks, and even the crows that guard the Cimitero Monumentale and appear in these parts, allow me to connect with this side of Milan.
NV: In these times of global challenges, how do you see your role as an artist?
JGG: The primary purpose of being an author is to serve as a conduit for the transformations within contemporary society. Whether or not we acknowledge it, working in this field inherently becomes a political act. This synergy, acting as a counter-current to normality, establishes a contemporary stance through art. For me, it is both a mission and a rediscovery — an acceptance of the primal disorder within the unconscious. It involves a conscious humanization through empathy, dialogue, liberation, and continual improvement.

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