Simply Wonderful: Luiz Cavalli

August 18, 2011

"There are always people who do not understand a simple painter."

The other night during dinner, my husband looked me in the eye and asked, "Why do you like to paint?"  It was a simple question, one I've thought about quite a bit.  It was one of those moments in life when someone who has closely watched your evolution calls you to the carpet.  They ask for an answer or statement that somehow magically boils it all down to a simple truth.

As he looked at me, waiting for my answer, my mind went blank.  The first thing I could think of was, "I just love it."  He looked at me, eyes squinted and filled with more questions.  He and I are wired differently. All the things I wanted to say about painting raced through my head, but I sat there knowing they would likely sound silly to him. 

Maybe I was wrong. Maybe it was simply me who thought the answers lacked the complexity to fully explain my addiction.

I took a stab at explaining and enjoyed the conversation.  I was happy that he wanted to understand, and my sudden inability to explain was frustrating. I got mad at myself.  Truth is, I was already mad at myself over the painting.  Eariler that day, my mentor and friend, Bob Hogge, told me (kindly) that my last painting "wasn't the best of my more recent work."  He accurately described it as looking a bit like a page out of the JC Penney catalogue.  I wasn't happy with it to begin with so this didn't surprise me.  What upset me the most was that I'd let it happen.  I'd gone a bit backwards.

I wish I could be more like my guest today, Brazilian artist Luiz Cavalli.  Luiz and his work exude simple happiness and forward movement, the concepts that seem to define his life.  Even the chairs he loves to paint look as if they could move us through life, always toward an exciting place in the middle of exactly where we belong.  Nothing is stagnant. Nothing goes backwards. Luiz enjoyes creating art that portray his inner disposition, and in turn, his art makes us feel better. 

So what the heck's wrong with me?  I question too much, running through circle after circle in my head.  It's as if there's a convention going on with multiple speakers and tracks all zooming along at once. The neverending schedule is complex; during the breaks, decisions about where to go next trump taking the time the decompress.

It seems that I'm never satisfied with simple, even when simple is beautiful.  Maybe some of the simple things in life are actually so complex that we can never fully describe or explain them ... maybe like God, truth and beauty as well as all the deep, guttural emotions that drive us into action.  That powerful I-want-what-I-want-when-I-want-it sort of urge that is a reality for which, at times, no explanation can suffice.

So maybe in the end, Luiz' work is more complex than it may appear.  Perhaps why it appeals to so many is its ability to capture that unexplainable, complex space where true happiness and forward movement exist in each of us ... if only we can find it.  Afterall, if pure, unadulterated joy and happiness were so gosh darn simple, there'd be a heck of a lot more of it.

Note: Luiz' interview questions and answers below are provided in both English and Spanish.  We both apologize for any misinterpretations between the two versions.  We think they're close!

Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte ,
Georges Seurat, 1884-1886. (Pointillism)


Have you always know you would be an artist? How has your artistic life evolved? (Você sempre soube que sería um artista? Como sua vida artística evoluiu?)


I realized I had a bit of talent by age 17 when drawing in high school.  I started with pointillism in pen and ink. Soon I began selling my drawings to pay for school.  I studied at the Technical College of Design Communications. Then I eventually started working in advertising in the media ... working with professionals in radio and film and with television production agencies.  During that time I never drew or painted until 2003.  Then at 47 years, I began painting again with acrylic on canvas.  After three years of living as an artist, I began doing solo exhibitions and participating in conferences in Brazil and other countries.

Percebi que tinha um pouco de talento com 17 anos quando na Escola IADÊ de desenho que equivale ao Colegial....comecei a desenhar com canetas Nanquin Técnica Pontilismo em bico de pena...Ai comecei a vender meus desenhos para pagar a escola. Desenhei até a idade 20anos...Mas com 18 anos comecei a trabalhar em Publicidade na area de Midia Eletônica...Produção de comerciais para TV...com a profissão de Radio TV e Cinema produtor de agências....Ai então nunca mais desenhei e pintei....Só voltei a Pintar com 47 anos em acrílico sobre tela...isso em 2003. E a 3 anos que vivo só dos meus trabalhos....Fazendo exposições individuais e participando de coletivas no Brasil e em outros Países.

How would you best describe your personality, and how your art relays that to the world? (Como você descreveria sua personalidade, e como relés desua arte que, para o mundo?)

I am a tranquil and happy person.  I think that my art conveys happiness.

Sou uma pessoa tranquilha e feliz. E acho que minha arte transmite felicidade.

With regard to your current creative focus, was there an "ah-ha" moment you can tell us about? (Com relação ao seu foco atual criativo, estava lá um "ah-ha"momento em que você pode nos dizer sobre?)

I just love to paint bicycles, chairs, beach scenes, and people.

Gosto muito de pintar Bicicletas ,Cadeiras,Cenas de Praia e Pessoas.

You paint quite a few chairs and bicycles. Can you tell us a little bit about what draws you to these objects and why you feel compelled to paint them? (Você pinta muito algumas cadeiras e bicicletas. Você pode nos contar um pouco sobre o que atrai a esses objetos e por que você se sentir compelido a pintá-los?)

Well, since I was a boy I loved the bicycle design.  Then I began to paint the bike in my pictures ..... and today I think I'm one of the artists who has painted the most bikes.  I feel that the bike has a sense of being free and happy with life, with a lot of movement.  It also helps humanity because it does not pollute. The chairs also are always with me.  It is an object that is always in our liives, and I the seat gives life a certain movement.

Bem desde de menino desenho bicicletas....e quando comecei a pintar surgiu a bicicleta em minhas telas.....e hoje acho que sou um dos artistas que mais pinta telas de bicicletas...Sinto que a bicicleta tem um sentido livre de ser e feliz com vida....Com muito movimento e ajuda a Humanidade não polui. As cadeiras tambem sempre estão comigo...é um objeto que sempre está na nossa vida....estática e eu tendo dar vida as cadeiras com um certo movimento.

Do you believe some of the various attributes related to being highly creative have caused you aberrations (issues) in life, helped you deal with life's aberrations, or both? (Você acredita que alguns dos vários atributos relacionados a ser altamente criativo ter causado aberrações (questões), em vida, ajudou a lidar com as aberrações da vida, ou ambos?)
I think art and painting showed me that life is simpler than you think, and art helped me gain a lot of true friends. Life became easier and happy.

Acho que a arte e pintar me mostrou que a vida é mais simples do que a gente pensa...e com a arte ganhei muitos amigos de verdade. A vida ficou mais facil e feliz.

In what ways does art sooth or inspire you during difficult or challenging times? (De que forma a arte sooth ou inspirá-lo nos momentos difíceis ou desafiadoras?)

Really, it was very difficult to quit advertising.  I had a good salary and the living conditions of art, but today I'm able to live art.

Realmente...foi muito dificil ...largar a publicidade com um bom salario e viver só da arte...mas hoje estou conseguindo viver da arte.

Have you ever had to deal with people in your life failing to understand your creative personality, interests, or drive? If so, can you tell us about it and how you've dealt with it?  (Você já teve que lidar com pessoas em sua vida não compreender a sua personalidade criativa, interesses ou dirigir? Se assim for, você pode nos dizer sobre ele e como você lidou com isso?)

There are always people who do not understand a simple painter, but I have had no major problems with people. It seems that art is more for the interaction and shows.  But I really just like the paint on canvas. Never give up! 

Sempre tem pessoas que não entendem um simples pintor. Parece que Arte está mais para o Interatividade e Instalações...Mas gosto mesmo é da tinta na tela. Não desisto nunca. E não tive grandes problemas com pessoas.

Have you developed a specific creative process that enables you to meet your artistic goals? If so, can you tell us about it. Where do most of your ideas come from?  (Você já desenvolveu um processo criativo específico que lhe permite alcançar os seus objectivos artísticos? Se assim for,você pode nos dizer sobre isso. Onde é que a maioria de suas idéias vêm?)

Well, I started painting my own pictures.  I looked at a picture I took of paint.  I have had several screens that were made of pictures of me.  I photographed a lot when young, so I looked at those pictures and painted them. And so it began.

Bem comecei pintando as minhas proprias fotografias...Olhava para uma foto que tirei de pintava. Tenho varias telas que foram feitas de fotos minhas....Fotografei muito quando jovem...Então olhava minhas fotos e depois pintava. E assim começou tudo.

What do you believe places an artist apart from his or her peers? So many are highly talented, but what makes one stand out as truly gifted?  (O que você acha lugares um artista para além de seus pares? Assim, muitos são extremamente talentosos, mas o que faz uma destacam-se como verdadeiramente talentoso?)

I'm not sure if the translation of this question is correct.  But as far as talent ... I think a person is born with it, and it's a matter of spreading the work and showing it to others.

Esta pergunta a tradução não ficou boa...Não entendi direito...Mas com relação a talento...acho que nasce com a pessoa...e é uma questão de divulgar e mostrar o trabalho.

What is your primary motto or mantra in life? Why is this important to you?  (Qual é o seu lema principal ou mantra na vida? Por isso é importante para você?)

My motto is to focus on happiness and the joy of living.

Meu lema é a felicidade e a alegria de viver.

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