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  • Writer's pictureDeviprasad Rao

Inner explosion called Lisbon Impact

During the interview with my curator of the LISBON IMPACT exhibition and my representative in Portugal, Ms. Sofia Muller e Sousa, I was describing her how I have been impacted by the creative dimensions of the density of several cities in the world in recent years. It is true that I often feel shocked and surprised by human creations and the progression of civilization, especially in the field of architecture, design and town planning. The very experience eventually led me to conceiving the idea of creating an exclusive body of art works under the series called ‘Den-City’.

Initially, I was puzzled with the selection of a city. Instead, I simply started creating cities that are driven by my own fantasy, but which lacked depth. Later, I started thinking of famous cities such as New York, London and Paris. I tried creating couple of works in that direction. I succeeded in achieving the output that I was looking for, but I dropped my effort as a result of my realization that it is easy to choose a city that is followed by the whole crowd. Instead, I wished to choose a city that can invite me, intrigue me, seduce me and open my creative potentials irrespective of its merit in the world's popularity ranking.

In search of a city, one day I came across an article published in New York Times titled, “How I fell for Lisbon” by Frank Bruni, a well known American journalist. Ever since, all my attention has intensely been following Lisbon. I was impressed with Lisbon’s history, culture and especially its redevelopment after the devastating earthquake in the18th century that destroyed a large part of the city and thus, reshaped its present. I felt it would be the ideal city to render my style of work and the theme I wish to execute.

As part of my personal study I witnessed Lisbon from land, air and water. It was very difficult to catch the real essence of the city and execute it on a plain canvas as it had multiple dimensions that runs through the seven hills, surrounded by a water body as well as a dense and modern suburb. In my first attempt, I miserably failed to perceive the city. I could not understand how to express through my work. Perhaps my expectation as an artist of creating body of work based on city was the biggest hindrance. I realized that there was a need to change my attitude towards how I witness the city. I dropped all my expectations of an artist and decided to simply witness the city as an innocent tourist.

Eventually I repeated my task of seeing the city, obliviously, this time as a tourist with no travel guides. I entered into the city by air from the Atlantic, drove into the city through several entries by road and did multiple boat cruise journeys over the Tagus River from various points and from the other side of the river. This way I witnessed it from the exterior and formed my own contour of Lisbon.

In the process, I aimlessly wondered and wandered, walked and travelled for several hours and days and let myself be seduced by the city and its charm across its dancing streets, lanes and stairs of the seven hills. Within a short time I fell in love with Lisbon due to the way the city revealed itself to me. I grasped its aesthetically unique character, its density, curves, corners, dynamic and static elements, pastel and vivid colors. The most exciting factor was the light that I never perceived the way anywhere else before. The quality of light in summer, winter and spring had unexplainable distinctions. Experiencing all these together the child within me was completely overjoyed.

As I was experiencing Lisbon with such utter joy, unconsciously, my ‘roaming studio’ was also opened. My first studio was at Fusion Market in Marti Moniz. Later on it was moving from one hill to the next hill, riverside to street side, tram to tuk tuk. Eventually, an inner explosion of Lisbon Impact was engulfing wherever I lived and stayed and travelled. The result was hundreds of photographs, video clips, drawings, few dozens of water color miniatures and canvas paintings (of course, over the period of two years).

When a selected number of 210 works were exhibited in Museu do Oriente (Museum of the Orient) in Lisbon last winter, in a show titled ‘LISBON IMPACT’, instead of being happy and joyous, I was numb and could not believe I was its creator. I was shocked by the exposition of aftermath of the inner explosion called Lisbon Impact. I was detached from my creation that very moment and tried passing by my own works in the South End exhibition hall of Museu do Oriente as a tourist. That very moment, I heard my inner voice saying, “The journey has just begun, Devi! Lisbon has more to reveal! One day you must return to explore, experience and express more and in a new way!”

Now I know, Lisbon is calling again!!

(Note: You may view Paintings, Miniatures and Drawings of LISBON IMPACT series on this website)

(Copyright 2021, Deviprasad C Rao. Author is an Artist, Curator, Writer & Artist Facilitator. Founder of Devamitra Artists Collective based in Zurich, Switzerland. He can be reached through this website



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