When Lidl opened close to my house at the beginning of the year everything changed. Suddenly luxury foodstuffs available only to people for whom ‘supper’ is a legitimate meal – think potted crab, fancy crackers and walnut oil – were available on my meagre freelancer’s wage. Now I could rock up to a friend’s house proffering a bounty of Highland black pudding, panna cotta or buffalo mozzarella, rather than the cheapest wine in the shop and some mystery meat-flavoured crisps. I had arrived.
So when we came across the work of Ricardo Passaporte, a Portuguese artist whose portfolio is largely dedicated to the delightful budget supermarket, I knew I’d found a kindred spirit. From smiley shop assistants to Lidl’s surprisingly voluminous carrier bags, Ricardo’s work depicts the everyday glory of the store in all its mundane details – he’s even manufactured some sports socks emblazoned with its angular logo.
“My work is deeply engaged with the history of Pop, underscoring the evolving relationship between art and commerce, sometimes appropriating logos and experimenting with enlarging or scrambling details until they reach various levels of abstraction,” says Ricardo. When quizzed about the appeal of Lidl, he cites Orlando’s dog food and the supermarket’s aesthetic attributes. “It’s just a perfect logo, it was love at first sight,” he explains. “My ideas are quite simple, normally contemporary scenes of everyday life such as shopping, watering plants, playing golf, smoking and drinking with some friends.” Tesco and occasionally Ikea also creep into Ricardo’s work.
The medium Ricardo uses to create his odes to everyday life varies from paint depending on his mood. “If I feel more free of movement or if I need more time and focus on each movement, I use spray paint, acrylic, charcoal and felt pens,” he says. “I use bright colour combinations – mostly primary colours, which reminds me of the capitalistic and marketable aesthetic.”
Ricardo has two exhibitions on the horizon, one at Eduardo Secci Contemporary in Florence and another at Hawaii Lisbon Gallery, and a fanzine on the way, published by Portuguese publisher Stolen Books. Lidl fans take note.