In every street, and around every corner. Up and down old stone steps. You can find little restaurants, bars, and patios everywhere in Lisbon. Mouthwatering smells and faint sounds of jazz. It is pretty clear that life in this beautiful old city is to be enjoyed with good food, fine wine, and music. It is here where I am about to meet Joaquim Lourenço: a colorful personality, and a true artist at heart.
After spending the day with him, I understand why answering “Can you introduce yourself” was not easy for Joaquim. He enjoys doing many things: poetry, photography, woodwork, drawing, painting, and teaching. He embraces the experiment and to try something new. When he talks about being an art teacher, his face lights up. Clearly, he enjoys this day job. But he unmistakenly also is an artist at heart. He tells me: “Being a teacher is the outside of me. The artist is my inside.”
He sees the world a little different than most, expressing those views through his artwork. “There are no deeper meanings to my paintings, yet I feel the urge to share certain things that caught my attention. Putting it out there for others to enjoy. When its purpose, the reason why I made the work, is fulfilled, I start a new one.“ Although Joaquim loves to explain what inspired him to create the painting, and why he used a certain color, he leaves plenty of room for his audience to interpret his work. Joaquim likes people to know that his paintings are not random; nothing just happened. There is an underlying process that can take months before he starts a new work. Joaquim is fascinated with the female body and funny details in otherwise ordinary settings. They are his source of inspiration. Piles of clippings arise, binders full of sketches, and try-outs. He flips through them often; analyzing what he drew or cut out and why. “When I can continue to relate to what and why I drew at the time, when I feel the click again, then I start with a big canvas.”
Joaquim’s colorful art
Materials are tested, and lines are explored. Joaquim is not necessarily aiming for exact representation, yet looking for shapes, lines, and volume. Or the contrast between a body and a background. Trying to find the best way to communicate what he wants to share with his audience. For instance, his painting “Executiva” came to life solely because of a button on a sleeve; an image he saw in a magazine. While the black lines express a certain persona and outline the button (of course), her jacket has the same color as the background; pink. Because it isn’t about the clothes.
Every blob of color is very deliberate. He studies colors the same way he studies painting techniques or materials. Through art history, scientific approach, emotions, and what a specific color can add to his work. Color is clearly a big part of his message. As are the black lines: in all Joaquim’s art, there is always the drawing.
His inspiring story
Heavy into sports as a kid, with a dream of becoming “a big-shot sportsman”, Joaquim’s life was forever altered at age 13. Due to a spinal condition, the prospect of paralyzation from the waist down was staring down at him. Sports? He could forget that; never, no more. After the diagnosis, several surgeries followed. Bedridden for months on end, and with a lot of time on his hands, he picked up paper and pencil and started to draw. He loved comic books and began to draw his superheroes: Captain America, Spiderman, the Hulk. A natural talent, with a very personal approach, the feedback he received was very positive and encouraging. Joaquim never looked back. His successful surgeries and rehabs behind him, at age 47 he is now working on his Masters in Drawing at the Fine Art Faculty in Lisbon. A resilient, optimistic man, with many plans and dreams for himself.
Joaquim is proud of his work, and truly enjoys what he does, but is not attached to his paintings. He prefers life the Buddhist way, without attachments. He simply wants people to enjoy his work. Do you like a certain work? He’d gladly give it to you if only regular financial burdens of daily life would allow him.
Not afraid of dreaming big, his goal is to become recognized internationally in the world of art. People to recognize a painting as a typical “Joaquim”. “I want to evolve and go wherever my work is leading me. And I’d love to take on higher studies and become a professor at the Fine Arts Faculty. Teaching. Creating art. Until the day I die.”
After a long day, we finalize the interview. Joaquim, happy, can go out for a smoke.