I started doing this work (Look at me!/ The birth of painting - Photography, 2023) last January to find a way to continue making art while caring for the children, and I'm planning at doing another sequence of it this coming January again. I proposed to myself to carry a tiny painting in my pocket and my cannon while going for walks to take Ulysses to nap and Helena to play downtown. Then I started to find these small paintings at home, between the toys, in the daily mess that the house becomes when one has small children. At that time, Uly was around six months old, and I was thinking about how a painting starts and where I would notice that a painting would begin. We love to take for granted that a painter starts painting when they brush with paint on canvas. Some painters who want to differentiate themselves as super professionals like to think that they start a painting when they prepare their surface. Some go to great lengths to create complex stretched panels or canvases with unconventional shapes. All valid and beautiful, of course. Never forget: I’m all for every artist’s way. My point is that to me, the acts of painting don’t start there, with the thing that will become the object-painting itself. It is always an arbitrary decision to decide where anything begins.
My paintings these days start in my search for my present moment. Not in a zen perspective – although I would love to experience more of the zen in my life, and I keep my Buddha there right in the dining room to remind me of this. My search for my present moment is a deep search for my children in my past. Ever since they were born, I noticed they were already with me in many moments throughout my life, even when I was a child. Ulysses was there the day that my father gave up all chances for a happy marriage and became violent towards all the women in the house, especially my mother, of course. That memory, one of those formative memories that nowadays we like to reduce to the word “trauma,” became a compilation of mental images seen through a crystal full of broken inner parts since Ulysses was born. And that’s only one of the many moments of my life before children that completely transformed since giving birth. With Helena, one moment stands out, which was an evening waiting for the city bus at the university in Brazil after going to find information about how to do a student exchange program in Turkey. This moment, which seems I could have forgotten entirely, is an everyday thing, dreaming of new possibilities and looking for opportunities in different worlds. I remember the air, the colors of that day, the smell; the thickness of this memory has the same feeling of hugging Helena today.
This work brings up my difficulty in looking at the child, of responding to their demand for attention while everything in me, the past – and the future, of course, all the plans, desires, all that became so uncertain since they were born // I don’t have time to write it down now, maybe one day I go back to it – keeps resurfacing in a new and sometimes surprising way.
A painting is born when we look at life, whatever “looking” may be.