It’s difficult to imagine the equating of weathered construction plywood with a painter’s brush stroke, but that what Brazilian artist Henrique Oliveira does with his impressive three-dimensional sculptures made entirely out of layers upon layers of pieces of peeled, old plywood, collected from various construction sites around Sao Paulo. Originally a painter, Oliveira began making his sculptures (some of which look something like gigantic roots bursting into a room) after spying an old, peeling wooden fence outside of his studio. He intuitively saw the peeling strips of wood as something similar to that of a brushstroke laid down by a painter’s hand, and since then, has worked with aged plywood in this way, much like a painter would colour a canvas. To make his sculptures, which range from the enormous to smaller pieces, he gathers plywood strips of all shapes and sizes, before layering them into forms that are sometimes also painted over, in order to give an illusion of uniform smoothness.
To make his sculptures, which range from the enormous to smaller pieces, he gathers plywood strips of all shapes and sizes, before layering them into forms that are sometimes also painted over, in order to give an illusion of uniform smoothness. Plywood is an inexpensive and abundant material for fencing, and instead of leaving old fences to crumble, Oliveira transforms the linearity of such a humble material into mind-boggling and eye-catching spaces, punctuated by tendrils or mounds of almost-living forms. Other times, Oliveira creates cavernous canyons out of this salvaged material, ones that visitors can inhabit. It’s an ingenious way to reuse a product that’s been broken down so much beyond the point of utility; instead of sawdust, art is created. For the curious, there’s many more impressive images on Henrique Oliveira’s website.