© Rita Draper Frazão

Inner Tour is a blog about People, Arts and Traveling by Rita Draper Frazão.
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quinta-feira, 30 de março de 2017

The (En)chants in Coimbra

In the Northern Hemisphere, warmer weather is arriving, and along with it, is spring break too!
Here's what I took as an inspiration last time I was in Coimbra. These are stories and images made with joy and brought to you with Spring energy. Being North or South, might it inspire you in your next holidays! Take a look!

The Architecture blend

One of the things I find fascinating about Coimbra is the quality and the historical mix of architecture it covers. Architecture built over centuries lives harmoniously in this city in a very special way. 

Roman, Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Mannerism, Baroque, Modernism, International Style, Português Suave style (one of Estado Novo's architecture style) and Modern architecture are all present! Here's a taste of my my inner tour in some of those striking examples.

In the urbanist and archaeological chapter of this city, are included buildings from the 18th century (as the Botanical Garden), 16th century (e.g. University royal palace), 11th century (e.g. Almedina Tower), or the 1st/2nd century (e.g. Roman underground city Aeminium, whose cryptoporticus can be visited in the Machado de Castro Museum. It is the biggest of its kind in Portugal).

Santiago Church silhouette, in São Bartolomeu District. 
One of the examples of the Romanesque architecture in the city.

Detail of the Old cathedral of Coimbra (foundations built in 1139)

Santa Cruz Monastery

One other example, is the Monastery of Santa Cruz.
 The foundations of one of the National Pantheons, are Romanesque and dated between 1132 and 1223. Though, over time, the church had several refurbishments done, until what we can see today. Those include a full refurbishment in the 16th century in Manueline style, tiles from the 18th century, and a triumphal arch from the 19th century, just to name a few. Defining, here, was the artistic contribute of Diogo de BoitacaNicolau ChantereneJoão de RuãoGrão Vasco and Cristóvão de Figueiredo.

King Afonso Henriques (the 1st king of Portugal, founder of the nation and of this monastery) and his son, King Sancho I, are buried here. The monastery was also one of the best ecclesiastical schools in medieval Portugal, and was where Saint Anthony of Padua (or Saint Anthony of Lisbon) studied Latin and Theology. Reportedly, Luis de Camões studied there too.

Right next to this historical city hub, there is a musical oasis, Salão Brazil, one of my favorite concert venues in Coimbra. I have made several drawings there, and have published one of them here.

Interior of the New Cathedral of Coimbra. Tiles from the 17th century and holy water sink.

One can read "Please do not talk in the church", a detail inside the New Cathedral of Coimbra. The Cathedral started to be built in 1598.  I felt the need to photograph this, in contrast to the smashing magnificence of this church.

Besides all that, in the 20th century, and during almost 30 years (from the 40's to the early 70's), the Alta district was largely refurbished. The biggest national names in the arts scene were called to participate, and forever mark this city's identity. 

Top-notch painters, sculptures and architects carried out an urbanist revolution here.
Almada NegreirosLeopoldo de AlmeidaCottinelli TelmoCristino da Silva, and many others, were some of the major figures involved.

Salvador Barata Feyo's sculptures (from 1951) at the entrance of the Letters College, with the University Palace as background. The four figures represent Demosthenes (Politics & Eloquence), Aristotle (Philosophy), Thucydides (History) and Sappho (Poetry). 

South wing of the Department of Mathematics

The Department of Mathematics dates from 1969 and it's a project from the Portuguese architect Lucínio Guia da Cruz. It is one of my favorite buildings in Coimbra! The concept, the breeziness... I absolutely love it!!

View to the Queen Elizabeth or Europe Bridge and Mondego River

On top of that, more recently, all this amazing background was enriched with contemporary architecture examples, such as Museu Machado de Castro (I wrote more about it below), and the view you have from Alta to the bridge (Engineered by António Reis and designed by Bureau d'études Greisch).
Inside the buildings, there are also pearls, like the recent Law College Auditorium done by Architect Fernando Távora.
With all this, no wonder Alta and Sofia districts are UNESCO's world Heritage!

Other points of interest inside the University, include, for instance, the Joanina Library in full Barroque style or the Fox tile.

The "Raposa" or the Fox tile

Why am I mentioning a single tile? Well, this one holds an interesting story and reveals a lot of the student life in Coimbra.
It is said that out of the hundreds of tiles existent in the University, there is only one with a fox. This tile is located in a small atrium in the way from Via Latina to Gerais.
It has a sort of a ritual associated with it. It is said that touching or kicking three times (!!) this fox tile, will help students pass their exams. This explains the lousy state the tile is in!

A fresh look to the ancient

Still in Alta de Coimbra district, is located Machado de Castro's Museum where once was, the former Bishop's Palace. Keeping and restoring the old structures, it was refurbished and expanded in 2008, with a project by the Portuguese architect Gonçalo Byrne. The building won the Piranesi Prix de Rome

And there are so many reasons for that! This is not a "regular" museum, since its building actually is itself a piece of live history of the genesis of the city. 

In the terrace of the museum's restaurant, Loggia.

Besides that, Loggia is the perfect spot for a sunny lunch break.
The package includes a meal with a fantastic view over the city.

A visit is worth, not only by the astonishing museum collection, as by the architecture, the location, the city view, the restaurant and the graphic design, inside. It is also an accessible museum, with special activities for such publics.

The light maneuvered as play-doh, wrapping the space and the masterpieces.

A witty light design

This museum, is a great example of how architecture perfectly manipulated the light, in favor of the existent masterpieces, from the dark and massive Roman cryptoporticus, passing through the light design, to where the windows, are placed, in the newest part.  Absolutely sublime. 

Not revealing much about any museum's masterpiece, was a deliberate choice of mine. I find it all so good, that I think you should see it with your own eyes!

Inspiring calls

The time passed in Coimbra, was creative time to me.
Not only historically, but also visually, I felt like this city was having marvelous dialogues with me.
The proof is here.

Beauty in small details

The colors, the movement and the happy-go-lucky attitude

A colorful clothes-line flutters the white street

The colors, the light, the shapes and the angles

The different volumetry, height and color combo

Detail of the cloister of the New Cathedral of Coimbra

Sunset between Colleges

The elegance and the dignity of this balcony

Coverlet and pillow's fabric detail in the New Cathedral of Coimbra

Clinical Analysis, roses and a balcony. Sounds much more dulcet. And reminded me of the Saint Elizabeth's miracle, with bread transformed into roses. A religious legend of the city.

This is my city type

You guys know I can't resist a type! Wherever I looked, there was an interesting typography to photograph! Here are some of the alphabets I loved the most.

Horticultural of Coimbra

Letters College

Carlos Guimarães Lawyer

The cats street

Modern Salon Hairdresser

Street poetry

And how would it be if - besides the official typography - walls would calligraphically scream at you feelings, doubts, quotes, or sounds? That's exactly the feeling I had when I took these pics: an open book of the city's soul.

"Don't want to hear catcalls in the street"

? ? ? Why ? !!!

"Fear kills"

Bird song

A bird landed on my shoulder. What can I do?
Music follows me everywhere :)

Life (vida) Toilets (sanitários)

- Here no hazing
- If Medicine doesn't want to

Controversial or not, initiation rituals known as Praxe, make part of Coimbra's University current practice. I found funny that this "confront" about hazing, kept the black and white colors, in line with the ones in Coimbra's Academic Association logo and Coimbra's academic dresses (Batina and capa).

"What is good for garbage is good for poetry"

This one up, quotes a poem by the Brazilian Poet, Manoel de Barros. The original poem can be read here.

The obligation to produce alienates the passion to create.

The one above, is a sentence written by the Belgium philosopher Raoul Vaneigem, in his book The Decline and Fall of Work

Overall, these street poets made my city stroll much more fun and unexpected!

Literary Nest

Here's some facts about the Portuguese language: it's the 4th language most spoken in the world, the 3rd most spoken in Europe and the 1st most spoken in Southern hemisphere. It is spoken by 250 million people all over the world.

That being said, it's good to remind that the city that gave birth to the Portuguese language as we know it nowadays, was Coimbra!

For many centuries, Coimbra had the only Portuguese language University in the world.
It welcomed and educated several generations of thinkers, decision makers in the country, politicians, writers, philosophers, musicians and many other relevant Portuguese-speaking icons.

So, no wonder the city is also known for its literary strand.

The facade of the house where the poet Eugénio de Castro was born, in 1869.

Besides Eugénio de Castro, the city gave birth to other poets such as Sá de Miranda. And, the University of Coimbra, was a place where poets and writers from various epochs, like Luís de Camões, Antero de Quental, Almeida GarrettMário de Sá Carneiro, Vergílio FerreiraMiguel Torga, Ruben A. and many others passed by, as students. 

Since Luís de Camões is considered the most important Lusophone poet, and Portugal is a country of poets itself, the Day of Portugal, Camões, and the Portuguese Communities, is in the day he died.

But exactly when (it's only known his birth year was around 1524) and where he was born (guesses include Alenquer, Coimbra, Constância, and Lisbon) is still a mystery.
His tomb is next to Vasco da Gama's, in Jerónimos Monastery, in Lisbon. (Jerónimos Monastery, Santa Cruz Monastery, Santa Engrácia Church and Batalha Monastery are all national pantheons)

Other notorious students of the University of Coimbra, include Marquis of Pombal (Head of the Portuguese Government in the 18th century, and great reformer of Lisbon after the 1755 earthquake), Egas Moniz (who won the Medicine Nobel Prize) and Manuel de Arriaga (1st Portuguese President). Many musicians studied there too, but I will write a bit more about that, below.

The University & Fado Music

Coimbra is one of the Portuguese cities that has a music style and instrument of its own: Coimbra's Fado and the Coimbra Portuguese guitar. Fado music (from which Coimbra's Fado is a specific genre) is UNESCO's intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Being a lively student City, Coimbra has one of the oldest Universities in the world. It was started in 1290 in Lisbon, and then relocated in Coimbra until now, since 1537! Many Portuguese Kings were born here, and a lot of politic decisions were made inside the University too.

A student's black cape, part of the official Coimbra's Academic Dress, also used in Tunas.

These two - Fado music and the University - kept, until nowadays, a close relationship through the "Tunas" (academic musical groups) and by musician-students like Artur ParedesEdmundo BettencourtAntónio MenanoLuíz GoesCarlos ParedesFernando AlvimAntónio BrojoZeca AfonsoAdriano Correia de OliveiraJorge ChaminéJosé Cid, and many others!
Not all of them followed the Fado expression. And sure one should have in mind, that Coimbra has provided much more than this musical style.

Anyways, from the 1950's on, and as a reaction towards Salazar's dictatorship, the older Coimbra Fado approach gave place to a new movement. Musicians like Adriano Correia de Oliveira and Zeca Afonso, started to use as lyrics, classic and contemporary Portuguese poetry, having a greater focus on folk music and ballads. They totally revolutionized the music scene in Portugal. 

Grândola Vila Morena (a censorship banned song, at the time) by Zeca Afonso, was the song broadcasted in Radio Renascença, on the 25th of April of 1974 at 12:20am, and used as a code to announce the troops to move forward and make the Portuguese Carnation Revolution happen. Embracing the ideals of democracy and freedom, Zeca Afonso and his music, became a major cultural icon for generations to come.

On the other hand, Carlos Paredes's family, was already rich in elements (Artur Paredes, his dad; Gonçalo Paredes, his grandfather, and Manuel Rodrigues Paredes, his great-uncle) that mastered the Portuguese Coimbra Guitar. But he, not only soaked up all his family's and Coimbra's musical tradition, as he changed the course and the identity of Portuguese traditional music.
Adding innovative elements and his own composition style, he recorded several albums and collaborated with artists like Amália RodriguesCharlie Haden, Chico Buarque, or Carlos do Carmo (Latin Grammy Award winner). 
He died in 2004, but his worth remains unquestionable and his talent recognized worldwide. 
His legacy is alive, not only through his music, as through contemporary artists, that use samples of his music, and contribute to keep making the Portuguese music evolve to something continuously new, as he also did. One of my favorite examples thereof, is the song Viva! from Sam the Kid

And speaking about Sam the Kid, he will be the headline act of the next Queima das Fitas (Burning of the Ribbons). This is the golden moment of the year regarding Coimbra's student life, and also of Coimbra Fado. It's a huge city party, organized by the Students Commission, on the pretext of the new graduates. It includes a week full of concerts, bands, photography, poetry and stand up comedy contests, and many other activities. Take a look at this Monumental Serenade, from last year's event opening.

As the previous link proves, to this day, most of Coimbra songs' thematic is about the student life, the life in the city, the romances, and the history of Coimbra.
A popular song of this type of genre, that I must mention - because it was the inspiration for this article's title - is Balada da despedida, from Fernando Machado Soares. The lyrics say: "Coimbra tem mais encanto na hora da despedida" (something like "Coimbra has more enchant at the time of farewell". See the full lyrics translation here).  

Capital of love 

But, one the most famous Coimbra Fado music's worldwide, probably is Coimbra, sung by Amália Rodrigues.

Originally, the song made part of the movie Black Capes (1947), that was the first movie Amália starred in (She did plenty more. See here). It was a blockbuster in Portuguese Cinema, and propelled Amália to an internationally acclaimed career. The success was such, that later on, an English version of the song was made (called April in Portugal).
Great artists, like Louis Armstrong, Bing Crosby, Perez Prado, Chet Atkins, and Roberto Carlos got inspired (check the links to hear their amazing versions!), and all of them have made covers of that song.
 Unsurprisingly, Amália Rodrigues has sold over 30 million records worldwide and is still the best selling artist in Portugal. She passed away in 1999 and the country mourned deeply. Amália is so emblematic in Portuguese culture, that she is buried among the kings, in the Santa Engrácia Church (National Pantheon) in Lisbon.

The portuguese lyrics of "Coimbra" have several references to the university course, and to the romance of Inês de Castro and King Pedro I of Portugal. (Lyrics translation can be found here).
The link between this love story and this university city, lies in the fact that, that was where they both secretly used to meet, more specifically in Quinta das Lágrimas, whose name (Estate of Tears) derives from the tragic end of this story.
Back then, the hunting grounds of the royal family was Quinta das Lágrimas, where Inês de Castro was killed at the behest of King Pedro I's father (King Afonso IV, who was against the relationship). She died for love, and therefore, perpetuated herself for eternity as a heroine.
This whole story, generated a love legend and inspired many artists over centuries, to do texts and songs like Coimbra. Nowadays the property is a 5* hotel and one of its restaurants, Arcadas, has one Michelin star. For our delight, the gardens can be visited.

 There are so many good things to discover, and to say about this city. I hope you enjoyed the ride!
I have been many times to this town, and I'm looking forward for the next time I go there.
Meanwhile, Coimbra, will remain in my memory with great (en)chant.

This article is dedicated to Néné.

quarta-feira, 6 de julho de 2016

Art, life and love

MIA's Fields of Gold

My latest work was done at the MIA Festival, in Atouguia da Baleia, a lovely fishermen's village in the Portuguese West Coast.

I am someone who works in concerts, in the shower, before bedtime... pretty much everywhere. This also means that my world's personal lenses are influenced by that restless nature of mine. And not that I stopped drawing (none of that!), but, for several reasons, it was not possible to publish here new stuff.

For those who are not familiar with MIA, this is an improvised music encounter where musicians (and not only) from all over the world get together in order to experiment music as a mean of communication, if I may put it that way.

This year, the festival's organization, also asked me to write a few lines about MIA. I had fun picturing a story that could embrace my vision of it, as a Tower of Babel. You can read my testimony and others here.

So far, I never went to a festival like this, and I was longing for this moment, since last year's edition! The truth is, there is no other like it. It's Fields of gold for me: Participants became friends, friends became family and family smells like home. I mean a comfortable realm, not exactly a physical place. And, I wonder where else can you be  y-o-u-r-s-e-l-f,  than somewhere you feel like home. That sets the tone for sharing and inspiration. And here, following, are mine.

In St Joseph's Church

Mark Alban Lotz

This was the first drawing made in this festival, and it's the flutist Mark Alban Lotz

The concert took place in St Joseph's Church, a Baroque monument, from 1747. The background tones of the drawing were inspired by the stunning colors of the church's altar. You can see it here, and know a bit more about this place here

Refurbished in 2012, its plan is octagonal (8, the infinity number) and its vibe is simply beautiful. It is, nowadays, used for cultural and religious purposes. If you ever go to Atouguia da Baleia, this is a place you should definitely visit! 

Robert Worley, The Bones of Character

At the same church, took place the concert of the group Breathing Space. This is the portrait of one of its participants, the artist Robert Worley

The Bones of Character is my personal approach on how their story version, of the last Neanderthal, was performed. 

Our current pencils are made out of a mixture of graphite and argil, involved in wood. 
Those elements, linked me to trees, nature, planet earth, mines, ground, and stones, and stones had a metaphorical major role in this show. 
I consider graphite a primordial importance material, as far drawing is regarded. I'd call it, elementary, basic, or even primitive.
Therefore, in this drawing, graphite pencil seemed to me the adequate and natural material of choice.

Stacked, towards gradually more affirmative stones (gradual color), they, finally, shape into a Homo Sapiens. Where did we come from, what do we know and what are we made of? Those are the key issues in The Bones of Character

Ayis Kelpekis

This one is Ayis Kelpekis and was made in a concert also in St. Joseph Church. And, I'm glad we were in a religious place because, indeed, this was kind of a holy experience to me.

Here's the poem I wrote for this drawing, during the concert:

Esculpido de uma rocha
trazia uma temperatura do sol
no vento de areia
trânsito Africano
paisagem intermitente
na filigrana consequente.

Carved out of a rock
brought a temperature of the sun
in the wind of sand 
African transit
intermittent landscape
in the consequent filigree.

If I'd close my eyes, while he was playing, I'd travel far away, through distant landscapes, Eastern destinies or just some sort of a visual trance with sand, rocks, wind and heat in it. 

I did think of Mount Rushmore's sculptured faces, when I did this portrait. I thought of Ayis as a President - not of a government but of this event - now carved in a earthly color line in my sketch book. 

An alive Phidias sculpture, right in my front, who brought us moments of joy and poetry, full of colors and flavors. He rocked it. Literally.

The After-hours

After the official concerts, it was about time for the official jam sessions in Armazém dos tubos! It's to exclaim and not to simply affirm, because it was also here that happened really exciting things in the festival!

Francisco Andrade

And this was the first drawing I made in one of those jams. 
It is the saxophonist Francisco Andrade caught in a moment of an absolute frenzy. Unstoppable and unforgettable that session! The drawing was made to the music's speed and the colors chosen regard the intensity of the moment. 

Last year I did a completely different portrait of Francisco, take a look at it here!

友人への頌歌 / Ode to a friend - Ryoko Imai

友人への頌歌 / Ode to a friend is a drawing I made with Ryoko Imai's hand.
It was one of the first drawings I did in this festival, and one of the last to finish. I started it at the first Jam Session in Armazéns dos Tubos and finshed it at the MIA Post Jam, in Desterro.

Normally the title of a painting is the last thing I think about (if there is even a one) but, in this case, the whole drawing started by the title and her hand. The rest of the ideas unfolded while the festival went on. And, of course, she also helped me with the title spelling and translation in Japanese!

This process is not so common in my work, since, when I draw live, almost always I already know how I want to paint it and how my texts about them are going to be like, even though, recurrently, I do that afterwards. Ultimately, the concert is, itself, my zenith moment of inspiration.

Regardless, I was lucky my life crossed with this amazing Japanese percussionist and human being.
This drawing is not about the musician, it's about the person she is: lively, dynamic and sensitive to the others. Beyond her sometimes shy appearance (grey background) , there are so many colors I see in her (in her hand), proper to the force of nature that I think she is.

Here's a funny detail I found we have in common between my brushes and her sticks:

I had made other portraits of her, one of them as a musician, but this time I was mesmerized with the beauty and delicacy of her hands.

She has creativity bubbling on her veins, and an immense potential that can make a difference.
I remembered the Good Will Hunting movie, because I think her and Will Hunting (Matt Damon's character) share something in common: geniality and the lack of awareness of the importance and impact they can have on others and in the world.

One of our greatest Portuguese poets, Fernando Pessoa, once wrote:

"O valor das coisas não está no tempo que elas duram, mas na intensidade com que acontecem. Por isso existem momentos inesquecíveis, coisas inexplicáveis e pessoas incomparáveis"

“The value of things is not the time they last, but the intensity with which they occur. That is why there are unforgettable moments and incomparable people.” 

I think Ryoko is one of them.

In the Main Auditorium

Discordantly with other editions, this year the rain kept pouring down, most of the time. Although we had to bundle up in garments, I think none of that was keeping us from having a blast. Instead, the feeling I had, was that we were all so happy to be together. 

Noel Taylor

In the drawing above, one could think that the black stains could be rainy inspired. But they were not. This image is my portrait of the clarinetist Noel Taylor and the black stains started out to be an accident. On the previous page of my drawing book, I had done a painting with a loaded black ink, and a little bit passed through the paper.

I didn't consider it a drawback, on the contrary, it was the perfect metaphor for what I felt when I was listening to Noel: the blue sky, the birds, black stars and the clearness of thought of Taylor. Just beautiful. 

All this, established the mood for the present color palette: light blue, white, black and silver. 
A reminder that, in every dark cloud there is a silver lining. 

Sandra Giura Longo

The Italian Sandra Giura Longo stepped onto the stage, and a visual blotch came with her. 
I wanted this portrait to be pretty graphic.  
She was playing flute when I did this drawing and, along the festival, she sang too.

Besides the musical playing, this improviser, currently living in Paris, has done work in the areas of writing and performing arts. Actually, I wonder how isn't she doing painting or design too, since she seemed to me a person with such an esthetic sensitivity.

She once lived in Azores, and I was amazed with her Portuguese. A nice surprise!

Desmarte - João Desmarques

The portrait above, is the Portuguese guitar player João Desmarques - an active member of the band dUAS sEMIcOLCHEIAS iNVERTIDASATR (Associação Terapêutica do Ruído), and also of Zaratan.

Desmarques is a slangy word, that comes from the Portuguese verb Desmarcar. It means deselect, cancel, dismiss... In this case, signifies the several dismisses or no shows.
I think it's a rather original and funny nickname. João is, indeed, the only Desmarques I know!
The result of this moment (concert) to me, was the pun Desmarte. A mixture of Desmarque with the words, Marte (Mars, the action and battle planet in ancient mythology) and Arte (Art).

In the meantime, while listening and seeing him, Desmarques made me travel throughout Namek, and those lazy late mornings with the company of Dragon Ball Z's (DBZ) cartoons. A generation stopped to see those mighty Manga characters and so did I, to see, listen and draw him here.

It was his funny, intergalactic, no where-everywhere sense that made me tune in to this Japanese series.
I could feel his struggle (present in a different way in DBZ too), his dreamy and far away cloud (could it be like the Flying Nimbus), and his dashed trajectory in the noise of the earthly experience.

Between Namek's planet and Sun Ra's Space is the place, there is a subtleness and sensitiveness, a material absence, that was, at the same time, a beige, blue and black omnipresent spirit. All that was, ultimately, summed in the message of the art of the encounter through its medium, music.

It could be after a long travel by the planets and the stars, facing Adamastors and Titans, that one could find his true and valuable content. Or, in other words, here I present to you, The art of DesmarquesDesmarte.

Carlos Canão
Scanning drawings can sometimes be a little bit ungrateful, specially when metallic or fluorescent colors are involved. This is exactly the case, so I took some extra pictures for you guys, to see better these, golden and silvery colors. 

It's Carlos Canão, who was playing gong, while I did this drawing. He plays bass and tibetan bowls too.
Being a Yoga teacher and an Osteopath as well, Carlos is an outstanding healer. He's helped many persons and he's helped me too in a way I won't forget. The funny thing is, that you can feel his healing abilities through his music as well. Sweet!

In this MIA series, this was the one portrait that took me longer to finish.
As in music can sometimes be hard to find the right pitch, here finding the right shade of colors was the hardest part of this portrait. So, I buckled down making my own colors for it!

Firstly it was the gong that inspired me to use a metallic tone of gold. In here, you can easily perceive that this color is made of many different shades. I used 5 color layers until I reached the tone wanted. 

In here, a similar thing. The difference was that I mixed silver with other plain colors layers. In this case, I used white, black and blue.

This drawing contains very different colors (hot and cold) linked by the thin black drawing line that is Carlos. We talked about it, and I also felt he's got a flashy side (strong gold) and, at the same time, a more discreet side (light silver), both represented here. The image of a sunset at the beach crossed my mind too.

And by the way... While doing this one, and specifically regarding the landscape I envisioned here, I thought a lot about Anett Krase's master thesis. She's a German graphic designer and her work, as a researcher, is an aesthetics treaty! Philosophy in written painting, if I can call it that way. It was a big influence here, so inspiring, I couldn't finish this text without mentioning her.

Antoine Gilleron

Antoine Gilleron plays trumpet, sings and is involved with some projects such as Orchestra Elastique and Folie Ordinaire. This French musician has an electrifying and intense presence with a real exotic vibe.

This drawing was made in one of the most theatrical moments of the festival. It was the last concert of MIA, and Antoine was playing along with the MIA Ensemble, conducted by Fernando Simões. As the concert went on, things started to get exciting when he started to send - one by one - the musicians out of the stage. Unexpected by all, and with a surprising end, all the musicians answered back in unison. A real hoopla!

The drawing was exactly in the middle, when Fernando sent Antoine out of the stage. In this case, that is the reason why his body is not there. Afterwards, I painted it with Antoine's t-shirt color, and, I'm actually happy the course of events influenced my drawing. It makes all this more true!

Paulo Galão - The time is now

The drawing above, is the Portuguese clarinetist Paulo Galão. This portrait started off with the light blue and the greens. The black drawing was the last thing I did here. There was a rapid movement sensation that I wanted to pass on, and I also wanted to invert, a little bit, my natural order of doing things, which would be to leave colors for last.

I thought about that inversion, also because, firstly, I focused my eyes on his watch that, unconsciously, reminded me of space and time equations, or of a motto as the time is now.

Which, by the way, fit here as well, since rhythm and pause (visual kinesthesia and white), presence and silence (figure and blank background), noise and listening (scribble and observation) are notions that made part of my construction here. 

In the verge of the Vortex - Marialuisa Capurso

The following text, is a tale I wrote, to In the Verge of the vortex portrait and for the Italian singer Marialuisa Capurso.

Once upon a time there was a princess called Bellona. She lived by night, wore feathers, and lived high in the hill, to reach the clouds, and avoid the asphalt. 

From her most pinnacled castle tower, there was a foggy bridge: a link to the unknown, with unusual flowers, delicate perfumes, and sugar traps. 

Once, she went there for a stroll, and picked a flower to smell it. 
It was a reality bubble. At the same time she smelled, the bubble bursted. 
She shook, and felt the verge of the vortex. 

The parrots were never the same, the waves never crashed again to the same side, and bees learned that the intangible dimension of a peel's color, isn't the same as the letters used to describe the flavor of the fruit.

After a terrible stormy night, a magnanimous sun arrived in the morning.

But, to my great surprise, I not only did portraits from the musicians, as I was portrayed by a participant of the MIA Festival, as well. 

In the middle of the event, sitting in the public, Marialuisa asked me my drawing book, closed her eyes, and, in 5 minutes drew me. The result is above! 

(*Rita la dulce meninha : Rita the sweet girl)
The drawing is, here, used with the permission of the authoress.

The city of Carmine And White - Jesus Asenjo

This portrait tells the story of the mordant Carmine, who wanders in curves, angles and lines, drawing two blue trees on the floor, reflecting the water around. 
Thereafter, a pair of sandy streets, united to walk, formed a thought - which road to take? 
It was, only, in the next morning, afterwards a glorious coffee, that Carmine met White, shaping its inhabitant and his place in space: an inner city, su ciutat (his city).

Shapes and colors are the main theme here and, this is about the Spanish accordionist, Jesus Asenjo. Brown, beige and Yves Klein blue were, indeed, there. I added the white and carmine red, which added a higher color contrast, and inspired me to write a story about it.
His feet are trees, his legs streets, and his upper body, coffee. The surroundings (carmine) and his instrument (white) and how they both met in the person of Jesus. 

Afterwords I finished it, I thought about Nikias Skapinakis' amazing paintings. He's one of my heroes and, a big reference in Portuguese painting. If you're not familiar with his work, you can read more about him here and see some of his work here.

Playing a wave, surfing a guitar - Paulo Leal Duarte

It's been a while since I wanted to portray Paulo Leal Duarte. This Portuguese guitar player, plays with projects like P.R.E.C., and also paints.

Perhaps because I grew up with Surf, I always loved the sport and the culture around it: its rituals, dreamy feelsymbol, typography and magazines graphic designmovies, looks, jargonmusic, and guitarists too!!

And the trigger for this drawing above, were his fresh and observant Surf pictures, that never ceased to amaze me.

While playing, there is some kind of a hypnotic state he enters in, that I wanted to be symbolically present here too (closed eyes). The bluish strokes and lines movement were sea wave inspired. They involve his figure, almost as if he'd be playing a wave and surfing a guitar.

But his mind-blowing photos have wider themes than just Surf. You can navigate through some of them, here.

André Tasso

I witnessed two significant debuts of this Portuguese guitarist. One was André Tasso's first concert (with Luís Lopes) a while ago, and the other one, was this first time in which he participated in MIA Festival. I kind of feel a special relation towards him, regarding his evolution as a musician, perhaps because I saw it unfolding, from the very start.

There is always something extremely visual when I hear him. He plays and, two seconds after, I already have my mind invaded with images.

This drawing was made when André was playing with one of the raffled MIA groups. It seemed he was cooking a color! I started to draw his head and, the next thing I know, I could see André melting with the music, blending with the environment as watercolors in water.

My process of realizing this, followed the velocity of my drawing. This, became increasingly deconstructed, through a flexible outline of his body, passing through a musical instrument that became an ink blot, until, only pencil strokes were there.

Even though he seemed pretty shy, and was hidden on stage (I could barely see him)
 I really liked what I listened.
I'm looking forward to see what's next!

An extra boost

It was sleepy hard working morning in Mia Festival, while these next four drawings were done live, during an extra session at Armazém dos tubos.

Nuno Ribeiro
Here's is my sketch of the Portuguese guitar player, Nuno Ribeiro.

There's a certain subtleness about him, I particularly like. 
The portrait colors were inspired by his guitar and outfit combination. Sensitive and discreet, this drawing is about Nuno slowly puffing his music into thin air.

Besides playing guitar, he is a really nice photographer, very graphic, with an attentive sense of composition. I need to mention that, because - in the back of my mind - it was a source of inspiration, while listening to him too.

Cortez Lamont

This one is the Portuguese guitar player, Cortez Lamont, here posing with a black leather jacket.
I chose charcoal to draw, and this portrait has one particularity - it was started in the opposite paper direction. Until, I decided that what I've done so far, was good to be flipped upside down, like in a gambling card game

From that referred start, remains what you can see on the left side of the composition. It kind of reminded me some Prehistorical rock engravings, like this one

And, in the end, a flipped drawing, a playing card, leather, charcoal, black and white, rock engravings, and his music, all seemed to match.

Laura Marques

Laura is a name of glory, a person of colors, a flower blooming.  

What you see above, is a work in progress, my current portrait of Laura Marques

I wonder how many Laura's have enchanted the world...surely plenty... in my mind some, like Ella's, Ashley's, or Preminger's... all unique and none alike this one. I really enjoy this free singing bird, pure, natural and beautiful.

It was the second time I drew Laura (you can see the other portrait here), and hopefully will not be the last one!

Pedro Santo

It was through colorful scribbles and a charcoal drawing that I portrayed the Portuguese drummer, Pedro Santo.

I had portrayed him before, as the Wind Sheriff, but this time, I was more focused on the wide range of colors and textures he offered me. One can actually get that feeling if you hear the music of some of the projects that he was involved in. He is the drummer of the band Peixe Frito and played with groups such as Inner SpacewaysThe Lost ParkBä Mbo and Farra Fanfarra, just to name a few.
Note his astuteness and observation skills. His groovy and fast pace makes me bounce, and pay attention whenever I hear him. He's such a natural.

Along with his distracting and respectful dreadlocks, there is here a sensibility to be further explored and shown.

Another look 

But, not only from musicians is a festival made. Curators, technicians, producers, cooks, designers, photographers, the public, and many others make it possible. This year, I drew two of those persons, that I feel the public should know about, too.

José Felix da Costa

One of them is José Félix da Costa, the official MIA Festival photographer, that has made so many unforgettable shoots and videos of so many of us. Therefore, I guess it's more than fair to say, that he is a fundamental piece in this event.

One of the visual moments that, I think over time, has became a ritual, is the wall of his pictures, shown at the entrance of the festival. If you don't know what I'm talking about, see here.

But he not only documented, as he also created an archive of images with a sense of art. I really like his image framing, and the way he plays with light and colors. Plus, he's someone with a really fun and corrosive sense of humor.

We always need an exterior element, such as a painting, a camera, a mirror, a glass or a water reflexion to get an idea on how we look. And that's why I envisioned this portrait of José Félix da Costa, as being a reflection of his face in a camera lens, and not what, actually, one could see through it. This relates to the intent of the portrait itself - how we percept people, how we transmit that, and how one person sees her or himself.

Pat Lugo

The other person who didn't play at the festival, and of whom I did make a drawing of, was the Italian Patrizia Lugo. She sat next to me in almost every concert and, without ever bothering me and in first hand, she witnessed the birth of many of the portraits presented here.

Based in Belgium, she's one of the persons involved in Ex-i-t and a brilliant photographer too. Pat's pictures have lively colors, and a plastic approach, as if things, places and people were her canvas. So inspiring to me.
Her sensitiveness is very visual and the results are incredibly appealing photos that stir one's senses, to say the least! You can see what I'm talking about, here.

Her creativity ruled her fashion too, and I was mesmerized by her blue shoes. They made me dream. When the stage was pink and red, I looked at her and she was tapping her feet to the sound of music.

All I can say is that, it made a difference to me and to my work, to see all these concerts, with someone like her, by my side. And, for future memory, here remains the visual register of that fact.

The Post-Jam

Two days after the official festival ended, took place the Post Mia Jam in Desterro.
The vast majority of the musicians participating in this Jam, played in MIA Festival too.
And, therefore, and as a MIA extension, this year, I decided to join hither three drawings I did there.

Manuel Guimarães
From where I was, I could only see Manuel Guimarães' back, cropped in the middle of the other musicians. On the left side of his cropped figure, one can see, partially, the shape of a double bass. 

Manuel is this amazing pianist (who also plays guitar), of exquisite intensity. 
Murk is there, and his language spins deep, and that is what the black background full of lines is about. 

Different line thicknesses for unexpected and sudden mood changes - very high (thinner lines) and very deep (thicker lines). Both, exhaled with great steam - as if it was no big deal (or como se não fosse nada com ele, as we say here) - under the leafy shades (discreet green) of a hidden forest (the inner one). Profound and fresh!

This is a one-of-a-kind artist. 
Worth the time to dive in his work and pay him the deserved attention. 
See, also, my last year's version of him, here.

Luiz Rocha

Part of us stayed at the Villa Hostel, a nice place with a really helpful hostess, Sofia Tavares. She cooked every morning for us, and always made sure everything was fine. Loved it!

It was Luiz Rocha's birthday and, as our breakfasts, there, turned out to be a really nice moment of conviviality; I woke up, went to the kitchen and we sang happy birthday to him.

 I started to write this poem for him, as a gift. I stamped the text that same morning, and that was the kick start for this portrait - finished afterwards at the Post MIA Jam. The poem says:

Poema de Luiz
Do que luz
E do que traduz
Círculo absoluto
Em porta resoluta,
Cor no caminho,
Sopro de mansinho,
Suspiro de liberdade,
Vida de curiosidade.
Largueza na dança,
Canção da esperança.

Poem of Luiz
Whereof sparkles
And whereof translates
Absolute circle
On resolute door,
Color on the way,
Gently blow,
Sigh of freedom,
Life of curiosity.
Wideness in the dance,
Song of the hope.

It is a birthday present, so I wanted the colors to be light, and the life theme to be present! 
Some time ago, Luiz Rocha thankfully reminded me and some other persons, of Eric Dolphy's Jitterbug Waltz. Since then, every time I listen to this tune, I think of this bass clarinetist. I am referring it, because I think this would be a perfect soundtrack for this text, drawing, and most of all, for this luminous person (and hence the yellow). 

The man behind Carahiba blog, Luiz comes from Brazil, lives and Barcelona, plays with several groups and is a frequent name in the Discordian Records.

Lorenzo Lustri
This one is the Italian artist Lorenzo Lustri and, was the last drawing I have made in this series.
Lorenzo's work is extended to several areas such as musicperformance, cinema and theatre. Particularly in music, he expresses himself through several instruments - flute, harmonica, guitar and others.

I was sitting right next to the small stage. And while listening to the bare, dysmorphic sounds; in a certain moment, I caught a glimpse of Lorenzo, drew him, and immediatly wrote this text, on the back of the portrait.

Qualcosa di mauve,
qualcosa argillosa
persa, cercando
nera, brillante
scompassata, affetivamente atenta
stridentemente silenziosa.

Something mauve,
something clayey
lost, searching
black, bright
out of rhythm, affectively attempt
stridently silent.

 Afterwards, I came up with the exact typography I wanted the text to have, and wrote it down as you can see it now. I wanted it to look poetic, spontaneous and a bit chaotic, too. A character with contrast (different thickness of the line) and visual flow. Furthermore, black and white gave here the extra drama I pursued.

Wondering about the several meanings of character and drama, I figure they are keywords here. In this specific case, character in the sense of personality and alphabet letters; and drama, comprising the theatre scope and intense circumstances.
This leads me to the matter of the language as a sound and of the plasticity of the expression through writing, acting and music. And, in the end, all of that sums up the theatrical dimension I think Lorenzo has.

After more than 25 paintings in four days, I called it a day.

Fields of Gold

Always with sound around us, these days were, definitely, very intense and full of strong emotions!

 I have to thank both curators, Fernando Simões and Paulo Chagas, that changed their calendar so I could participate in this event, this year, and, and most of all, to thank them for organizing something much greater than just a music festival.

As a matter of fact, I kind of feel, all this is about Art, Life and Love (my Fields of Gold). And what better inspiration could I ever ask for?

I thank the Universe, for allowing me to meet such incredible people, apprehend different personalities, learn with them and witness so much talent around me.

It's a privilege.

This article is dedicated to Ana Maria Lopes e Manuela Sousa Cardoso.