Gringo Cardia, who started out as a gymnast, has earned an enviable reputation as one of the most sought-after designers in the world of performing arts and video in Brazil.
In his career as a designer, Gringo has successfully integrated the three disciplines he has worked in: architecture, graphic design and theatrical staging. He has also made his mark as a director in film and video as well as a producer in the world of theatre, opera and fashion.
In 1989, he founded a circus troupe in Brazil before joining forces with Deborah Colker, the director of OVO in 1994. Together, they invented a visual language that owes a great deal to set design. "When I design a set I like to think big, to push the limits,” he says. “I don’t think of scenery as a support for a production. It’s more than mere decoration. It has to be an integral part of the concept of the show to be used and manipulated by the dancers and the actors.”
This approach has clearly worked. Gringo has designed the sets for over 100 theatrical productions and more than 150 music shows. His 70-plus music videos have won him numerous awards including the MTV Video Award for Best Brazilian Video in 1990. He has also designed hundreds of album covers for the most prominent Brazilian musicians, including Antonio Carlos Jobim and Gilberto Gil. His work has been recognized with more than 20 awards, including the Laurence Olivier Award for Mix, presented by Deborah Colker’s dance company.
In 2000, Gringo and actress Marisa Orth founded a nonprofit organization named Spectaculu which trains students from underprivileged areas in theatre technical arts. More than 2,000 young people have gone on from Spectaculu to careers in entertainment (www.spectaculu.org.br).
Gringo Cardia designed and curated the exhibition Amazonia Brazil, which has been touring the world since 2004, and in 2006 he directed the film No Arms for Amnesty International. Among his recent architectural commissions was the design of the Museum of Telecommunications in Rio de Janeiro and the new Minas Gerais Memorial in Belo Horizonte.
Gringo Cardia regards the design of a Cirque du Soleil set as more like architecture than theatre. "A Cirque show has a lifespan of 10 to 15 years rather than a few months,” he points out. “Cirque emphasizes research and development and constantly pushes the creative limits of technology – and that is a perfect fit with my own approach."