Jorge Pardo leaves his mark at the Lux Art Institute


When Jorge Pardo was invited to spend time as an artist in residence at the Lux Art Institute in Encinitas, he had a set goal in mind: to create an original, new art piece in just five days.

The Mexico-based artist spent June 12 through June 17 staying at the Lux to work on the large canvas-based piece. Other artists have in the past chosen to spend up to a month there.

“I gave myself a week to make something that would be interesting, and that’s really the only agenda here,” he said in an interview on the day he he arrived at the studio. “The interesting thing is to use the space and to make something here. They’re very flexible about how and what artists do. Residency can be a lot of things: it can be a retreat for people or it can be work.”

For Pardo, residency experiences can tend to make him anxious because he’s set in a space without his usual machinery and team, he said.

A majority of his work is usually produced by machine but finished by hand. He uses a variety of tools and materials, like a wood router and laser cutter. He also regularly works with a printer based in Germany.

“Because I have this infrastructure in the studio, I can really make [the art] mine,” said Pardo, who got his first piece of machinery — a table saw — when he was 13. “I can make five and throw four away. ... If you don’t have that in the studio, it’s different because you only get one shot. It’s not just about the fetish of these stupid machines and visual space. What’s important is to be in it and to do that is a pain because you have to work with people and you have to understand these machines and fix things when they go wrong.”

During his time at Lux, he created a 5-foot-by-30-foot scroll work that is covered with silkscreen ink in bright colors such as pinks, purples and oranges. He had planned the work for months, with materials sent over ahead of time, to make the most out of his stay at the Lux, he said.

However, he didn’t finish the piece. Instead, he decided to let children visiting the museum contribute to it. He will return later this summer to put on the finishing touches, museum staff said.

Also on display are five other pieces, which have been shown in galleries around the world. These include more traditional canvases, light works and lamp works.

Pardo said he enjoys using palettes rather than individual colors.

“I like using colors to kind of make a pleasurable access point in the work in a way,” he said. “I don’t use color as an investigatory thing. Color is something I use like a fisherman uses a lure. You need something to attract the fish.”

Pardo said he doesn’t expect his art to evoke any specific emotions onto his viewers, but rather he hopes the audience stays long enough to really take the pieces in.

“I don’t think works should tell people how they are or what to do,” he said. “I think that’s a dead end. If you just go and get lost in the piece, then the artist is good and there’s more pleasure in that.”

Pardo’s work will be on display at the Lux Art Institute, 4550 South El Camino Real, Encinitas, through Aug. 5.