A Chat with Collage Queens: Mersuka Dopazo & Teresa Calderón
by Caitlin Confort
Mersuka Dopazo & Teresa Calderón / Modus Gallery
Dividing their studio time between Madrid and Bali, the Spanish artists collaborate on large-scale collages created from paper gathered from all over the world. As Dopazo explains, her papers are always handmade and natural, chiefly rice-based. They are bought directly from the craftsman and are sourced from locations like Thailand, Kathmandu, India and Italy. Often densely patterned, the artists layer the papers together, as unexpected connections formed between clashing textures and motifs.
Art Zealous stole a few moments with Mersuka Dopazo to about chat collages, travel, & technique.
How do you two know each other?
MD: We met in Bali 5 years ago through a common friend. I was working on a very big canvas (7 meters by two) and invited Teresa to paint on it with me. It was like love at first sight. From this night on, we started to paint together for hours and hours. The following day it was 10 hours non-stop. We also had our kids painting with us, and it was just a magical experience. They had the total freedom of painting on our big canvases, and then we worked on top of what they did. That’s how our journey together started.
Where is your favorite place to travel and collect materials?
MD: I like to travel a lot, mainly to countries where you really can find things and material made by artisans. I frequently travel to India, Indonesia, Melanesia, Nepal – I was there just two months ago, and I found the most beautiful papers.
As for other sources of material, we have Teresa. Since she is a fashion designer, so she is also crazy about fabrics and textures. Some materials we use are designed by her, so often we use her drawings and patterns for clothes in our work – they have an extraordinary effect when made into art.
You see your works as a ‘travelogue from unexpected territory.’ What are packing essentials when you’re puttering around the world?
MD: I don’t really have packing essentials because sometimes I decide to travel without even having a plane ticket! I just head to the airport and go. I am not a planner; I just go for it. Although I must say, I never leave the house without my lipstick!
Where do you draw inspiration from?
MD: Inspiration comes from every detail that we see every day. People on the street, mainly women – their clothes, shoes, the way they move – also hands and napkins (especially paper ones). We love observing people from different parts of the world – their culture, their food, their colors – any place can be a potential source of inspiration. We just keep moving.
Personally, collage is my favorite type of art form; I love how the raw materials reflect our memories and experiences. What is your favorite part about collaging?
MD: For us collaging is also our favorite type of art, it gives you the possibility of using anything that is special to you to create a piece of art. I have approached many people on the streets, bought clothes just for the purpose of ripping them up, and stolen napkins and coasters – and used all of these pieces to collage. In our work you can see a huge variety of fabrics, drawings, papers and many materials that we find suddenly in unexpected places, that’s the beauty of it. Every piece is unique, not only because of the design but because of the unique materials that go into it. Sometimes I have spent fortunes in one metre of fabric, just for the purpose of using 5cm. But I tell you, that 5 cm can change everything!
Collaging gives you the opportunity of working with many layers and the option to change the artwork as you go along. It’s very rewarding when it turns out right!
What can we expect to see from you in the future?
MD: We have so many ideas accumulated, and there are many things we want to explore. We love to create new themes and techniques and sometimes we need to stop ourselves from innovating too much. Now we are working on different themes at the same time like exploring people and women. We are now creating our own papers with rice and drawings to use in our work.
Mersuka Dopazo & Teresa Calderón / Modus Art Gallery