It has been four years since Portugal became my roaming studio. Portugal embraced me with open arms and nurtured my creative zeal that eventually resulted in the creation of three major bodies of work titled “Lisbon Impact”, “Lisbon Calling” and “My Journey to Portugal” utilizing the key concepts of my “Den-City” series of paintings. “My Journey to Portugal” is a recent body of miniature water colours and acrylics on canvas that are based on various cities, towns and villages of Europe’s west most country!
Travelling beyond Lisbon I discovered the amazing beauty of the architectural heritage of Portugal. A decade ago I had witnessed Antonio Gaudi's architectural marvels in Barcelona, and have ever since been attracted to architectural marvels of rest of the world. However, contemporary architecture doesn't shock or surprise me as much as does historical architecture which must have been built with a comparative lack of technology and logistics.
As I travelled on - city by city and town by town - I realised that each city and town in Portugal had a definable character of their own which was evidently visible in its unique architectural design of castles, cathedrals or monasteries. I witnessed a mix of decadent, medieval, pre-modern, modern and contemporary architecture in these places. What excited me was that all this architectural heritage was huddled between clusters of dense terracotta tiled rooftop Portuguese villas or buildings that had muted colour toned walls and multiple windows and doors.
With no formal art training I have been always challenged to prove my credentials as an artist. It has been 17 long years that I have been walking on this chosen path with the single aim of evolving and progressing with every passing day. Stating that as my motto, this time I bring a fusion of abstraction and realism into my works. In this body of works I attempt to describe cityscapes and landscapes by creating illusions of realism that would steer the onlooker to abstraction. I have also tried keeping an element of playfulness in the execution of each work with naive yet practiced patterns that are filled on top of coloured surfaces along with my signature style lines and dots to define elements of cities, towns and villages with their vital architectural references and perspectives.
In select works I avoided colouring the entire space but instead juxtaposed the few iconic places of a selected city in a suggestive manner and then I let the white space play by itself. To make it more interesting I defined invisible elements by drawing lines of dots moving up and down, right to left and crisscrossing them. Later I added rectangles, triangles and uneven shaped dark marks in select places to balance the whole composition. It is an intuitive process of my own with the aim to be innovative, progressive and unusual.
My canvas works are on the other hand are not detailed with patterns but dense with lines, dots and forms with a variety of colour tones. They appear more abstract than the paper miniature works but still retain the fusion of realism and abstraction. When it comes to canvas I have deployed my harnessed skills of ‘action abstraction‘ with dripped lines on top of forms to define the elements of city. Eventually I end each painting with controlled sprinkling of dots in various parts of the composition to create density as well as an unusual perspective, space and movement.
In this first collection of “My Journey to Portugal”, I have depicted most of the central and northern cities of Portugal such as Lisbon, Sintra, Obidos, Porto, Braga, Coimbra, Guimaraes, Peniche, Leiria and a few others. Collectively, I tried to document the historical heritage of Portugal with the present day state of each city and town in their growing modernity.
This exhibition is part of bilateral cultural agenda of India and Portugal presented by Portuguese diplomatic missions in New Delhi and Goa as well as a curtain raiser for the finale of the series held in Lisbon, Portugal in 2019.
(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 www.deviprasad.com)