© Rita Draper Frazão

Inner Tour is a blog about People, Arts and Traveling by Rita Draper Frazão.
If you want to use my work, presented here, please send me a message.

domingo, 15 de maio de 2022

My German friemily


In times of war I feel like family is more important than ever. 
There's the biological family and there's the family one can choose.
Today is the International Family Day, and I don't have drawings from my whole biological family to show you guys. But to celebrate the occasion, I will share with you the portraits of elements of a certain family very close to my heart - my German friemily
Here, you can also find out a little bit about my connection with Germany, how war is related to my family's history and, the positive things that rose from it.  
Happy family day, whatever it means to you!


The German seed


I feel like I need to share why my connection with Germany goes way back. 
My great grand father was a vice-consul of the United Kingdom and his brother, my great grand uncle, was a vice-consul of Belgium. During World War II, they helped hundreds of Jewish war refugees to escape. They offered their own houses as shelters, helped them to find work, a safe place to live and provided assistance with all the logistics required for the refugees to leave Europe. 
After the war ended, they were dubbed by King George the VI of England and by King Leopold III of Belgium. They are also featured in the museum dedicated to World War II's Jewish refugees in Portugal, Vilar Formoso - Frontier of Peace. My family has provided information to the museum, photographs and many letters of some of those refugees thanking them for their help. The stamps help us to realize these people went all over the world. When the Museum formally opened, I was there with the President of the Portuguese Republic to represent my ancestors.
This vice-consul of England was the father of my maternal grandmother that, due to such, had contact with refugees from all around the world during her teenage years.
Also during the Second World War, my maternal grandfather was working in England as a surgeon, where he performed many war-wounded operations in war-wounded. That had a strong impact on him. 
When my grandparents got married and had kids, my grand father - with his Anglo-Saxon free spirit and medical experience - and my grand mother - with her background with refugees - decided to educate their kids having contact with Germans so that they had fewer chances of having preconceptions against them. Also, both of them learned and became fluent in German. 
No matter on what which side of the war one is, there are always innocent and good people in both sides. This may be a huge lesson nowadays, regarding the present war circumstances. 


The beginning of everything


Due to my grandparents' background and options, my Mum and her siblings were partially raised by several German ladies, but one stood out: Hannelore. She lived with my family only for a year but her impact was such, that our family is still in close contact with her and her family.

One of my mother's childhood German book, Max and Moritz.
She wrote her name on the cover.

More recently she bought in Germany
this new version of that classic.

Hannelore's education as a kinder garden teacher must've been a blast for my Mum and her siblings. 
She's taught them German, and did many artistic and ludic activities with them, like taking walks in the nature, doing theatre plays, German story telling, singing or doing the Christmas tree ornaments. 
When I was a kid, my Mum replicated the later with me. I loved it! 
According to my mother, when she was a kid she was bilingual, and thought in German.
Over the years, Sabine and Hannelore visited us several times. It was because of one of their visits to Portugal, when I was a child, that I was, since then, obsessed with learning German. I ended up learning a little bit. I love the sound that language and I'm fascinated with its degree of accuracy.
When I was a teenager, Hannelore's daughter, Sabine, lived in Portugal for a year in our family place.
At the time, she already dated Christian, with whom she later got married. They have a beautiful family, with two kids, Felix and Clara. Clara was named after my Mum's name.
I know those kids since they were babies such as Hannelore and Sabine know me!
It's amazing how the connection is kept through generations. 
Every time they visit us or we visit them, it just feels like home.


A special birthday


My Mum an I went to Germany to visit them, apropos Hannelore's 80th birthday. It was a surprise for her and for the little Clara. They almost passed out when they saw us entering their living room!

Hannelore's brother, Onkel Uwe also joined us for the occasion.
It's been a while, since I wanted to draw this family. This time, I finally managed to do so. I even drew little Ajuga, the most recent element of the family: a super dog and my new friend too!


Hannelore © Rita Draper Frazão

After so many decades of living in Portugal, Hannelore can still say some words and understand a little bit of Portuguese! Oma means granny in German, and I started to call her OmaLore
Hannelore is a force of nature, and in this day, she was the life of the party! Regarding that, I felt like using in her portrait, some elements of the party decor. They also add shine, fun and color to the composition. Besides being a kinder garden teacher, I feel like Hannelore has a deep creative and artistic side. She's the type of person that knows what she wants and I admire her strength (translated into the contrasted black pen on white paper) and how she takes care of herself with great pride. 
I can see it in the way she talks, how she dresses, on her hairdo, or in her way of walking. She is also a very affective and joyful person, one that is just so easy to connect to. No wonder we love her so much!


Onkel Uwe © Rita Draper Frazão

Even though my Mum had met him decades ago, I have only met Uncle Uwe on this trip. I absolute adored him! Such a sweet, and thoughtful human being. I was moved with the siblings connection and how he traveled the country to join his sister on her special day. 


Sabine © Rita Draper Frazão

Sabine is the most devoted person to her family I have ever met! Every time I hang around her I am always so impressed with the efforts she does to provide happiness to her family. Generally a caring person, I see that trait of hers in small details too. The way she organized this whole surprise for her Mother, how she cooked, how she decorated the living room for the party and even the wrapping papers she used. I could feel and see how much love she's put into everything, including how she and her family welcomed us. I feel like, in her own way, there is also some arts & crafts skills in her, so in the portrait I've made from her has a collage made out of one of her wrapping papers. I then painted her silhouette on top of with in a light shade. Sabine might very well be the fairy that does white magic happen without anyone noticing how she pulled it off!


Christian © Rita Draper Frazão

When I was drawing Christian, I had the sensation it might've been a little off for Christian's to pose for me. I know, that often happens in people that are used to be the observer and not the observed. This includes me too! Christian is a great photographer, with a curious open mind about other people, cultures and places. This portrait relates to his broad vision of the world. 
I picked the color of his eyes to transmute them into circular particles in the air. I also thought of this as a way to convey other characteristics of his: lightness and sensibility, and love for nature (green).


Felix © Rita Draper Frazão

Felix has piercing blue eyes! I admire his strength, adventurous spirit and entrepreneur atitude. I feel like he has a lot of energy and his fast mind is straight to the point. I believe he is one of those persons that has the world and a life ahead to conquer! The gray is actually silver and I thought of metal, coins, money and medals. Also when drawing his profile, I thought of it as if it could be in a medal or coin too! 


Prinzessin Clara © Rita Draper Frazão

When Clara was a little kid, she reached out to me because I work as an artist. She likes to dance and she was my first drawing student (You guys can't imagine how hilarious was this art class where she didn't speak English and I spoke very little German! Fortunately drawing is a universal Language!) 
I feel like she is a very feminine girl, hence the bow and the title, little Princess Clara.


Ajuga © Rita Draper Frazão

My encounter with Ajuga was very special. There is a time in my life before and after I met Ajuga. Before I was afraid of dogs and afterwards I met him, I no longer am. I did hypnosis to heal my fear and that worked, at least to be able to be indoors with a dog. But what I sure didn't expect was how this dog is. I am pretty sure I have never met such a polite pet in my life! Ajuga is the most loving dog I have ever met  and sure deserved not only a proper portrait as a mountain of hearts.

I left Germany happy, and reassured that love in whatever form - within the family, in a love relationship, with friends, animals, nature or whatever - is what matters the most.


terça-feira, 10 de maio de 2022

Mixed media Painting

 







May this inspire you to have a colorful day!

This painting of mine is in a private art collection.

For commissioned work & inquiries please send me a message.

sexta-feira, 6 de maio de 2022

A bitter sweet symphony


Back in a hot summer, a blue scented candle stood over a mesh standing over a ream of papers in my working desk. One day I arrived and the candle had melted with the heat. 
When I looked to the paper that was at the bottom of this stack of things, I saw and heard music in it.
It was the Verve's Bitter Sweet Symphony
I then wrote "it's a bitter sweet symphony" on top of it, and magic happened. The ink mixed with the wax and the paper into a blur. 
Many of the things Richard Ashcroft sings about in this music are metaphorically here: the bitter sweet (the rough texture and the sweet scent it still has), the change of state (from solid into melted wax), the mold (the mesh), being a slave to the money (the shape of the mold as a cage or grid) and being down (descending direction of the typography and the color blue - having the blues type of mood). In my mind, the "million different people" in the lyrics of that song became different mediums fused here.
There are some interesting facts, with many twists and turns about this song. 
The original music was written by The Staple Singers in 1956 and can be heard in “This May Be The Last Time”. 
In 1965, the Rolling Stones made a cover from it, called "The Last Time". In that same year, their manager and record producer, Andrew Loog Oldham, recorded another version of The Last Time. David Whitaker was the author of the symphonic arrangements in it. 
Those are the ones that, in 1997, were sampled with the record label's (Decca) permission by the English band Verve. Richard Ashcroft's wrote the lyrics. Verve's song was a huge success in Europe and in the USA.
Seems the bittersweet mentioned in the lyrics became even truer since it turns out that, besides all the success this hit had, the Verve were sued by Allen Klein (Rolling Stones' manager in the 60's and the one in charge for the band's song copyrights in the 70's) and by Andrew Loog Oldham.
22 years later, in 2019, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards gave away Bitter Sweet Symphony's royalties to Richard Ashcroft.
Sounds ironic that Ashcroft's first two verses in these lyrics are: 
"Cause it's a bittersweet symphony, that's life
Tryna make ends meet, you're a slave to money then you die"
Sixty three years afterwards, the original mold of this music was changed, as it occurred in the shapes that created this piece. Change might be uncontrollable but what we can do about it, is not. 
As much time as it takes, a choice for a change is possible and, the story of this song and of this drawing are a living proof of that.

terça-feira, 12 de abril de 2022

Identity, Connection and Absence in Diários Exhibition


Invited to participate in Diários Exhibition in Sá da Costa's Espaço Camões, the challenge was that all participants - Carlota Mantero, João Rebolo, Margarida Cunha Belém, Pedro Noronha and I - showed a little bit of our diaries as artists. Rita Taborda Duarte wrote the gallery texts about our work. 
Each of us showed a very personal view on the Diaries' subject and here, I will share a little bit more about mine. Come along!


Identity, Connection and Absence


Given the Diaries theme, my work had a sub theme, that was the baseline behind all pieces presented.
These pandemic times have changed all of our lives. Many of us, forced to lock down and unable to see each other, began to question our identity, to validate personal connections that were important for us, while the absences became a present body.
Identidade, Conexão e Ausência (Identity, Connection and Absence), is a reflection of mine on who we are, how we connect, or not, to each other and what can emerge from all that process.
Despite the pandemic's recent appeal, my interest in the theme of identity (which then, here, unfolds into the other two subjects - connection and absence) started very early and for two reasons in particular. 
One is the fact that in my family, there is either a foreign ancestry or a living abroad experience. This founded in me my curiosity about the world, about others and about what's different from me. 
The other one, was that I grew up in a strongly artistic environment.These two facts were key to turn drawing into a particular interest of mine, since I was a child, particularly, making portraits. 
The latter, can be a way of showing curiosity towards the other, of wanting to learn and register a personality that transcends paper. As a result, I have/do diaries in the form of drawings - aka graphic diaries - since I was a child. So, at this point, I can say I have a considerable collection of them.
Being the artistic request about Diaries, I chose images from 15 graphic diaries of mine. They were the starting point for the new paintings I've made for this exhibition. 
A general plan of them below:


I can say that choosing these drawings and diaries was indeed an inner tour! Bearing in mind each book has about 100 drawings or more, and that I have dozens of them, I can tell you it took me a week to see them all, page by page, and make a sense out of it.
I ended up choosing 5 images to each word.
Due to the human dimension of the diary theme, along with the words - Identity, Connection and Absence - I chose to conceptually relate a part of the human body. In identity the eye, in connection, the hands and in absence, the feet. Being some of those interconnected, along the way.



Identity


Below are the five images taken from graphic diaries of mine, that are related to the Identity theme.

Rasto (Track) © Rita Draper Frazão 2005

Quoting the great Portuguese poet Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen, writing is a notation of something that precedes it. Not being a form of notation, a track can also symbolically tell something else. A track allows you to see that someone or something were there before. It provides history and location seen here, now, by the self.
In the other hand, this piece made me wonder about the little we might know (a lost track?) about the story someone brings before starting a conversation, the story a place carries, and even, the story before our life's start.
Rasto was made out of a photogram I developed of my fingerprints - one of the basic items used to identify people, and hence here. 
About what this track tells (me): It corresponded to a period of my life where I have spent a great deal of time in a photography laboratory, and therefore, it forwards me to the smell of the chemicals used in the photo lab and the countless hours I've spent there. I am totally aware that for other people this might say something else, but bear in mind this is a page of a graphic diary, where I can literally know what I did or how a day went just by looking at a certain page. My personal memory allows me to see it and track it down as soon as I look at it.  Trace and identity found: me and a piece of my story.
What does the track of this image tells you about? At what event can a certain track be connected to your life?


Retrato Diluído © Rita Draper Frazão 2003

Retrato Diluído (Diluted Portrait) was the oldest drawing shown. I was nineteen years old when I did this.
The image, kind of mimics what a rainy day could do to a fresh painting, or a zoom lens that can unfocus or focus your eye sight. 
In parallel, from the artistic technique to daily life matters, how many times do we see someone's face but don't really see the person behind it? Did you ever get a distorted vision of one's character? Or how often do you feel others perceive you in a different manner you see or express yourself?
Quoting Gabriel o Pensador, Seja você mesmo mas não seja sempre o mesmo (Be yourself but don't be the same same).


Spica Santo © Rita Draper Frazão 2019

The portrait that I have made from the drummer Pedro Santo, was only possible because I was very close to him on stage, while doing it. Actually its whole concept started due to the closeness we were in, and that allowed me to see another side of him and of myself. 
Yes, portraying is not just about the featured human being, it can also be about the one who does it. 
Everything started with a tiny dot. From his ear piercing to a star. 
You can read what I wrote about it, when this portrait was done, here

In this exhibition, I had several drawings but this was one of the three, amid fifteen, that were musicians' drawings. It also was one of the three, among the, literal, hundreds of drawings I have made from musicians, that were shown live. Since diaries are, in theory, a "private object", and I left my comfort zone sharing them live with everyone, I must say this was a rare occasion!

In the context of this showcase, Spica Santo is also about what is close and what is far, and how this eye and body movement is pretty much required to draw someone (one can't be that close to the person) and how this dance between closeness and distance is paramount in order for us to relate to one another.


Watch me © Rita Draper Frazão 2010

Yeah, random image these days... one might think? 
You guys, as crazy as this might sound, I have found this drawing in a diary of mine from the year of 2010! Nine years before anyone in the planet wore masks as a trivial thing. 
The title Watch me is a word pun between waiting and time passage - with a background full of watches - and one not being able to see the whole face, due to the mask wear. 
A part of our identity that is hidden and the title suggests us to take a better look. Sounds familiar? 
Lesson #1 learned about diaries: reframe its meaning. This drawing was made in a hairdresser but I will never look at it the same way.
And now, something I am still learning! Lesson #2, quoting Marianne Williamson
Our key to transforming anything lies in our ability to reframe it.
How does this resonates in the way you started to live since the pandemic started?  


Swap glasses © Rita Draper Frazão 2006

Speaking of reframing, some drawings in the Identity assortment had to hint vision. The bridge to the new painting I did about this topic, starts here.
By the time I made Swap Glasses, this was a drawing of the song Throw it all away, from Zero 7. The sentence in the image, is part of the lyrics. I did this drawing with my left and right hand, and drew the same pair of glasses in opposite directions, symbolizing two different ways to express yourself, two identities, and two different ways to see the world. This isn't my handwriting, that's just me inventing letters to a certain sound (language, music) and message.
But, taking a step back into reframing content and context, this drawing was chosen to be in this bunch because it is about the ability to put yourself in each others shoes to have - as never before, with a different set of eyewear - a different way of looking at things, in sum, a different mindset. 
Wouldn't we communicate more effectively and this world be happier if we all tried to do that? 

That takes me to next chapter of this journey.



Connection


Hereafter, you can see the five images taken from graphic diaries of mine that relate to the Connection subject.

Hifen © Rita Draper Frazão 2006

Hifen (Hyphen) is about the dynamics of communication. Connecting presumes communication of some sort, and communicating, as in a conversation, demands two participating poles with a message, as a car, going from one side to the other. A never ending trip, metaphorized, here, through the road.
One of the ways we connect with each other, is through language and the openness to expatiate on a certain idea, within a certain timeframe. And what a better image could portray that than a part of the Latin Alphabet whose function is to connect two different words or particles? 
It also references to dashed lines in traffic as a universal mark of the movement possibility from one carriageway to another.


Irwin and Barbara © Rita Draper Frazão 2018

Once I was sitting at a concert (in Jazz em Agosto Festival at Gulbenkian) and I noticed that, sitting next to me, was a journalist. It was Irwin Block. He was writing notes and I observed his handwriting. I thought it was so beautiful, that I wanted to include it in my graphic diary. 
I asked him to write something for me, and then asked to draw his hand.
The pen he wrote with was purple and, I was still figuring out how I would end this piece, when his wife, Barbara, who is a fine artist, came along, and generously offered me some colored pencils. They were the best I ever tried in my life!
I knew I had to paint his hand with one of those pencils, which I did, and chose yellow to mark this moment, filled with light and joy.
Handwriting is a sign of human passage and communication, therefore a form of contact, and this image is a testimony of connection and warmth between human beings, and hence it had to be here.


Smile… © Rita Draper Frazão 2019

This one is the saxophonist Catherine Sikora. She was playing at Jazz em Agosto Festival, and I was sitting at the first row. For some reason, we kept smiling to each other the whole concert. 
Without ever talking, I felt like we were communicating and connecting. 
I immediately recalled the sentence "A smile is the shortest distance between human beings", an anonymous quote, I grew up with, since a member of my family had it displayed in a place much visible.
That day, she played smiles for me. This drawing is here to point out another possibility in connecting.


Tri Bang © Rita Draper Frazão 2016

Tri Bang is a portrait of the musician Jan Bang, that has worked with people like David Sylvian, Nils Petter Molvær or Jon Hassell, just to name a few.
The drawing was made in the Netherlands when I was working in a music festival at the Bimhuis, a few years ago. It was included in Diários exhibition and is reposted here now, in a completely different setting.
In high school and in the fine arts school, I've spend years studying geometry. To be very honest, when I was a teenager, in the very beginning of my studies of this subject, I didn't see the purpose of visualizing points, lines, planes, solids, and even less, calculating their intersections. Hopefully, overtime, that changed! If it wasn't for those years, I am pretty sure ideas like this wouldn't even appear, not to mention painting this specific work, which was a complex task that felt like playing Tetris! (A special thank's to all the geometry teachers around the world!)
I chose Tri Bang to make part of this, not just because of the story behind it (read here) but because the technique I used - intersections - is a great metaphor for connection. 
It is when intersections happen that new shapes arise. Isn't it the same when we connect, when we exchange ideas? Our world expands, and new horizons may be perceived.


Garota de Ipanema © Rita Draper Frazão 2006

Social gestures involving hands, could produce a treaty. We shake hands to seal a deal, we give our hands to loved ones, we say come in, along with our hands, we say goodbye with our hands, and so forth. But all of these are so, because once, there was some sort of connection.
This drawing is about the feeling I had and what I thought about, while listening to Tom Jobim's song, The Girl from Ipanema
In Portuguese we have a great word to describe what that feeling was: saudades. There isn't a direct translation, but I would say it means a mixture of missing someone or a situation, with fate. I relate that word to the Portuguese people too. 
One can only feel saudades when there is a connection.
The story behind this image, with a see through hand, tells something about longing someone that is alive but that you aren't with. The magic is that in thoughts, imagination and drawings one can do it!

This leads me to the next topic.



Absence

And now, the five images taken from graphic diaries of mine, that relate to the Absence concept.

Descolar © Rita Draper Frazão 2005

The title of this piece introduces the third theme, absence. 
This drawing was made in a concert, and funny to think that both meanings of the title, Descolar, in Portuguese (take off and unstick) are words and actions filled with sound. 
Even though none of these drawings and paintings from my graphic diaries were chosen to make part of this exhibition primarily due to its link with music, it is something so present and rooted in me and in my work, that in many of them it's subtly present, like here. 
If with hands we connect, with our feet we can walk away. When one unsticks something, something is removed, in a way turns to be away too.
Further more, symbolically speaking, we can take off as planes do. And just that split second, when a foot starts to be apart from a flip flop, reminded me that. 

Saída © Rita Draper Frazão 2004

While traveling to Italy, in the plane I was observing the Exit signs, and wondered about creating different typographies for different languages with that same word. At the time, I was reading Bruno Munari's Artist and Designer.
It's no secret I like letters, languages, how they sound and what they mean. And the idea of channeling that, through one alphabet appealed to me. And if absence is a concept, exit is its entrance door. That's why it had to be in this lot. Saída (Exit) can also be about a way out for something better.
And thinking about the graphic design role, and how important it can be in case of emergency... How the look and place of a simple exit sign can change everything. As said in the book I was then reading, " The designer (...) must be concerned with being immediately understood by the public, his visual message must be received and understood fully and without the possibility of misinterpretation." 
In the context of signage, and in an emergency, a type design, its layout, a pictogram, and the sign placement, have the potential to make a difference between life and death.

Urano em Touro © Rita Draper Frazão 2018

I did Uranus in Taurus when that planetary transit started, in 2018. 
Before telling a little bit about my drawing, it might be useful to share some cosmic background information. 
Uranus has an orbit with a vertical inclination, making an angle of 98º. This means that it's the only planet in the solar system that goes sideways around the sun, making him a sort of a planetary eccentric.
Planets in the solar system are named after ancient mythology deities. So, in this case, long story short, Uranus was a deity that arrested his children, and in return he got their rebellion. 
In Astrology, Uranus rules the air sign of Aquarius, often recognized as being unpredictable, free, bright minded, original and innovative. So, by all means, every reference points out to the unexpected nature of Uranus.
That being said, Taurus - which is ruled by Venus - is kind of the opposite, since Taurus generally seeks beauty, comfort, pleasure, safety, money, justice and peace. 
When Uranus crosses Taurus (an earth sign), it can symbolically mean the ground is about to shake in surprising ways. Our structures, and what we thought was safe and granted, urges now for freshness and creativity. It claims for big collective changes.
From the pandemic to political and economical conflicts happening now, all fit into this.
In the other hand, feet is what we use to feel the soil, the earth. And, to feel grounded requires to have your feet on the ground. The expression to stand on your feet exists for a reason. 
In opposition to that, that's why I chose to draw feet, as hanged clothes in a clothesline without any horizon reference, hence no ground, no space notion. Summing up, a way of absence and a direct reference to our current times in a page of my diary.


Little Monsters © Rita Draper Frazão 2012

The tittle refers to Charlotte Gainsbourg's song with the same name. 
I was inspired by water drop shadows in a window glass. Shade exists whenever there is an object and light. 
It is also what helps us perceive volume. 
What originated these shadows - the water drops - is absent. They were the ones that gave form to this abstract composition, and still, given this side note, I think its original form can still be sensed. 
The way I interpreted it, this song is about solitude, among other things. And this abstract matter seemed, to me, an appropriate language to evoque fragments and dissociation, without the color distraction factor.
Loneliness: a sort of a little monster in our society nowadays, taking (an absent) shape here.


Go © Rita Draper Frazão 2020

Made with fumage technique, Go reminds me of ghosts and old skeletons. 
It is about turning something that once was heavy matter into something light and ethereal. It tells something about letting fears go, in order to allow new beginnings take place.
Fumage technique is, to me, also a great way to relate to the absence topic, since there is no direct contact (touch) of any pencil or brush with the paper or canvas. 
Do you agree that due the pandemic, touch is or was one of the senses we miss the most in our daily life? Here's a direct reference to that!



New Works


Running through my presented diaries in this exhibition, I am now ready to share more about the new pieces I have made, based on the pages of the diaries previously mentioned.


Identity eyesight with Ipseity in space


Ipseidade no espaço © Rita Draper Frazão 2021

Ipseidade no espaço (Ipseity in space) points out to the theme of identity.
In this canvas, I have chosen to represent an eye, which could also be a planet in space (or whatever you want it to be). 
As the painter, Wassily Kandinsky claimed in his Concerning the Spiritual in Art book, I also believe that a purpose and a strong intention make a difference in the outcome of an art piece.
Painting each stripe - that allude to all human eye colors that can exist - I thought of specific persons I know (with a certain eye color) and whose energy I tried to imprint in each band. 
Here, the black pupil is silver, and refers to the idea of ​​the eye as the mirror of the soul. The dark blue background relates to the immensity of space. After all, we all also have our inner world, our universe and it's precisely human richness and diversity that are at stake here.
Ipseity is a term used in philosophy to identify what's characteristic of a particular individual. The idea of using such word in this title, came to me while reading Spinoza's Ethics. And somehow, the nature in being and the being in Nature relates as much to that classic as to this work too. Also, one needs space for the personality and relationships to develop. Considering the various ways of expressing ourselves through writing or drawing, I also had in mind left-handed and right-handed people, which is why this painting was painted with both hands. Also present in my mind have been the various ages, genders, nationalities, ethnicities, sexual orientations, religious beliefs, health conditions, social strata and personalities. This work is about you, me and all of us.
A kind of hypnotic effect invites the viewer to dive into this eye: this unique inner world that each and every one of us has within, and that forms, in its aggregated world population, the planet earth we know. Tolerance and curiosity: those might be passwords to enter a deeper dimension and human evolution and planetary sustainability. That is what this work is about.

Connection, Hands and Ars longa vita brevis


Ars longa vita brevis © Rita Draper Frazão 2021

The title of this painting, Ars longa vita brevis (something like Long art short life, in Latin) is a statement from the Greek Hippocrates, medicine's father.  
As previously mentioned, I have correlated in this set of work, Connection with hands, as they advocate something that we have been deprived of, for a while - touch. Hands are symbolic of connection, affection and communications between people: holding hands, petting someone's hair and even saying goodbye. Besides, hands allow us to express ourselves in writing of any kind: in calligraphy (also an expression of our identity), typing (on a computer, tablet or mobile phone), sign language, drawing, writing music, mathematical calculations and so many other languages ​​that typically involve or require hands. They are a medium to facilitate communication.

Ars longa vita brevis detail © Rita Draper Frazão 2021

Therefore, I wanted to include them in this canvas, but in a way that would allow and encourage touch and interaction between the canvas and the public. I pierced the canvas with the measure of ten fingers, aiming that the person who sees this painting could touch and grab this work, through these holes.
Actually, I also remembered those sketchbooks I had as a child, in which I could only perceive what drawing was there, after connecting several numbered dots with a specific sequence. Hence the symbolic representation of hands with this system. In a way, it also alludes to the universe and the spontaneous nature that children have, that I find so important in the bonds between human beings. 
Those dots, could also symbolize constellations or the acupuncture points in Chinese medicine, where the issue of touch is key. And of course, “connecting the dots”, a central concept here.


In fact, putting their hands in the canvas, matching the holes, was exactly what some kids did, while seeing this. The viewer is therefore invited to participate in the “conversation of this canvas”, creating a narrative through the movement with the eyes (the shape of the hands is only formed in the brain of the viewer, it isn't really there) and being invited to touch the canvas. 
Art can serve to elevate the spirit and make us think, but it should also serve to be close to people and not just to be on an untouchable pedestal, only reachable to some. I believe that art can be for everyone. In the sense that, whatever our walks of life, we all have the ability and the right to enjoy and benefit from art. One won't learn that from school. We all know how to feel. We just need to be open to do so.
At the same time, the meaning of life is also key in this piece (and hence its title). What is important and what remains in us when we leave: the love that connects us to the people we care about and vice versa. That's why the cardinal directions appear, with a typeface I designed for this purpose. Metaphorically speaking, it's also through cardinal points that we know where we are, and in this case, symbolically, where we stand in life.


That's what led me to the base color of this painting, inspired by this rose quartz. Some say, it's one of the love stones (and gem stones and jewelry design are another passion of mine and part of my identity, thus some reference to that matter had to be here present).
But reproducing that exact same color wasn't easy: making and mixing colors can be a real science and it was the most complex thing to do in this piece. It required it not to be white, still pink, but a very light shade of pink. And most of all, it required that once the paint was dried, it had the exact same tone as the rose quartz. And voilà! The theme of universal love deserved my commitment, and here's the end result!


Absence and Otherwhere


Alhures © Rita Draper Frazão 2021

Alhures (Otherwhere) refers to the subject of absence. Elsewhere, foreign connections, travel, non-presence, leaving, etc.
The question here was, how to represent something specific without the object itself being there?
That was what led me to represent a projected shadow of feet in the air (and not the feet themselves). They are also the part of the body that we use to walk away, to leave. And as this was about absence (void, no ground), I wanted them to be in the air.
The black part was not painted black. I picked an indirect technique used in one of my diaries (an absence metaphor): fumage, made with the smoke of a candle. So the ink didn't touch the canvas. It was through a physicochemical reaction to the heat that the black color was produced. This technique could have been done in many ways, but I intentionally chose to do it with a candle, as it implied fire (expression of transmutation) and light (a key element here).
In the beige tone, in the background, I thought about how, sometimes, some sorts of beige are used as light skin color and wore as absent when, for example, a transparent fabric is used over a skin-colored piece, or how in makeup, the tones of skin originated a product called foundation
Beige is also one of the most difficult colors to make from scratch, because it includes up to five different colors in its composition! 

Alhures in the dark © Rita Draper Frazão 2021

Colors appear when they are reflected and black, technically, is not a non-color, as it absorbs light. It's a fact that refers to the laws of physics. This brings me to another particularity of this work and the other meaning in it.
In his Dharma Bums, Jack Kerouac said It's only through form that we can realize emptiness. But I find the opposite as valid as that quote. We only perceive absence when something or someone was present, visible or close. 
Since it's in the presence of light that we see shapes (the feet, in this canvas) in its absence, the background becomes the shape, by glowing in the dark. Now, what is perceived, as form is what once was an apparent void.
It's also in the dark that we can glimpse other things, new paths, in small positive escapes or evasions such as dreams, for example. As well as, through the locomotion of the feet, we can, metaphorically speaking, choose to go to another place, to a better place, which can often surprise us!
A close dialogue between what's on display (the entrance and the form) and what's apparently invisible (the background and a positive way out to something better). The background, the void and the absences become forms, with present physical matter, thereby radically changing the initial premise.



Process


Now we'll enter another part of my work shown. 
Painting, drawing and writing are ways for me to think visually, to process information. Besides the fact that, when I did the next paintings I was focused in the Identity, Connection and Absence sub themes, they also have a lot to do with my conceptual reasoning and artistic process. A lesser known part of my diaries as an artist.

Affirmation and Conjunct Horizon


These two paintings are a diptych, with some layers. The starting point for these two works were cardinal directions and the lettering stencil I used for the typography in Ars longa vita brevis' canvas. 
Thinking about cardinal points, immediately took me to the time when I was studying music, and the way I was taught to mark a quaternary beat. I learned to snap my fingers and move my hands in a 90º gesture (like a square), as the rhythm unfolded. 
And, as in music a beat doesn't live without its pulses, space orientation isn't possible without cardinal directions. Further more, space orientation also exists when one is marking a beat with the gesture I've described. That movement produces vertical and horizontal lines in the air, and as the these two canvas' concept is correlated, vertical and horizontal lines are present in both (with the lines and the collage).
The typography elements relate to cardinal points, communication and speech. 
Sometimes information is presented in a chaotic way (like the tangled black lines here).
I also thought about the different sounds that can be produced when touching different textures: what we hear when we run our fingers over a smooth surface or what we hear when we touch a rough surface is completely different. A blind or a shut eyed person could have an additional sense of these compositions, by touching them. 
After all, this body of work is also about inclusion and tolerance, minding different forms of human identity and beings.

Afirmação © Rita Draper Frazão 2021

You might've noticed I used plenty of quotes, from several authors, in the texts about some of my works present in this collective exhibition. Quotes and statements also serve to identify someone's thought and identity. Therefore, I did a painting about that, Afirmação (Affirmation). Here, the vertical lines allude to the beginning, the time of departure, an affirmation, a being, and, ultimately, an identity. The pink and reddish colors call for attention, as if someone were to say: Here am I. Here I present myself. I affirm I am. I am here. N and S stand for Norte and Sul, North and South.


Horizonte conjunto © Rita Draper Frazão 2021

Whereas in Horizonte conjunto (Conjunct Horizon), horizontal stripes address a state of being at the same level, the journey, and connections, the relationships. 
The soft color palette (green and blue) symbolizes the balance required to connect, to relate, to have something in common, to be at the same level, and to feel empathy for one another. 
O and E stand for Oeste and Este, West and East.


Work in Process


Work in Process © Rita Draper Frazão 2021

Since diaries were the theme of this exhibition, and a diary is an object of the greatest intimacy, I was also interested in exhibiting something that, in painting exhibitions, is not normally displayed. In the context of an Art exhibition, a finished work is what we are used to see and artifacts that relate to the artist's practice are generally out of the public eye. 
A deeper sharing, like including such type of stuff, also reveals other layers of one's/my identity as an artist. 
In this sense, I wanted to include Work in Progress here.
This work goes back to the entire process of executing the new pieces made, which took months to prepare.  It was the last canvas to be completed, as it was made following all the other canvas.
It has elements of all the works: letters, paints, wax (candle), canvas pieces, paint that glows in the dark, and the texture here is achieved through thick overlapping layers. Touch appears here as one of the most elementary forms of connection. 
The present foot, refers to the idea of being ready to go. Symbolically, the entrance (texture, touch, connection) and the way out (the feet) to something new.
The joy and movement in this painting and the relevance of this piece to the overall and final result of these works, is also linked to the philosopher Nietzsche's phrase: One must have chaos in oneself to give birth to a dancing star.
A new chapter is about to start...

Before it does, I need to thank Sá da Costa, all artists involved (Carlota Mantero, Margarida Cunha Belém, João Rebôlo and Pedro Noronha), Rita Taborda Duarte for the texts, all the public that attended, Udi Fagundes that played at the opening, and to all the ones that helped me to make this possible!

I would also love to know what new meanings identity, connection and absence gained in your life or in you, lately? How come do you feel that might've have changed, for the better, the way you see the world and the way others see you? Please comment bellow :)

domingo, 2 de janeiro de 2022

Viva


Happy New Year!

In the first day of 2022 I had the weirdest dream: I was shot in the chest and didn't die from it. I woke up pretty disturbed, but the images and what I felt was so strong, I wanted to paint it. There was a big message behind it.

Maybe a large number of people were eager to see 2021 behind their back. Some of us went through really tough moments, lately. Some of us learned and are learning how to rise from the ashes. If, for some reason you are going through a less easy phase, know that I did this to make you smile!

And after the bullet's hit us, the hole has been done and, besides the pain, or along with it, a new chance to see other colors in us, in life and in the world, can emerge. 

After all we have the gift to be alive! 


Making of


I have spent the whole day doing this work, and today, on the very first new moon of the year I am ready to share it with you!

The title Viva, is a Portuguese word that means alive, cheers or hi, depending on the context used.

So, the first idea that came to my mind was to burn paper reminding a bullet hole. Fire and some sort of destruction had to be present. And that is why it's reverse side is painted in black.  

Here's a picture of the making of the hole.




There are always two sides to every story


Black reminding dark, what we seemingly can't see.



A shot in a, until then, blunt white, empty and uncertain.
A detail below, where you can see the effects of the burned paper.



Quoting Aeschyluswisdom comes along through suffering.
This work is related with being able to be alive and feel joy and gratefulness for it. Something that, in the rush of life, we often don't stop to think about, right?

The idea that, that same suffering allowed a glimpse of something else, is something I wanted to explore in this page overlay, as one can see here:



Here's a detail of the burnt paper over the colors.



After all, through all these colors I wanted to express the idea to live with happiness, thankfulness and freedom of choice.






(As in my dream I was shot and proceeded alive and kicking) I believe there is always a way to be happy. That is my true wish for you!

What are your wishes for this year? 
Please comment below and share this with a friend you know that needs a boost of color and a positive message in their day :)