May I ask?

I am curious about people. When I find someone interesting, there is a spark, I try to turn that spark into a fire. My greatest pleasure would be to get that one phrase, or hear the one sentence, that reveals a part of someone that even their most intimate confidant had never heard before. Like, "Wow. Did I just say that?"

There is a lot of poetry in truth. And people are so beautiful when they are being open and honest.

Monica Eastin

Friday, August 29, 2008

DreaM Girl: Artist Andrea Ribeiro

Buy my art

“Wow! You are gorgeous. Wow!” This was the first sentence out of my mouth to the Artist Andrea Ribeiro. Shocking really, to see someone so beautiful. I suppose what took me by surprise was that during the days that preceded my interview I had familiarized myself with her work but not her face. I had no idea how stunning this Brazilian beauty was until I logged onto my computer (we conversed via Skype) and saw her for the first time. “Wow!” I kept repeating myself like some awe struck teenager suddenly confronted by an A-list celebrity. “You are just gorgeous!”

She wore a tulip pink pashmina that fell loosely around her shoulders. Only an artist could know how perfect the pink complimented the natural bronze of her skin. Large circle earrings hung down to her jaw, and as they swung in rhythm with her laugh, I thought to myself, here is a woman with style.

After the initial shock of her appearance had passed, and I stopped repeating my rather star struck mantra, Andrea replied laughing, “Nossa! Nossa! No, No.” Her laugh turned in my ear like a sweet peach corkscrew. I had forgotten how delicious the Portuguese accent is, and her Diane Keatoneasque self-consciousness only made her beauty that much more alluring. There is something refreshing and innocent about a woman who is still made shy by compliments. My telling her that she was, “Oh. My. God. Gorgeous,” caused her to give me a look like a child that had just discovered the surprise of Christmas morning. “Nossa!” She kept repeating, the blushing apples of her cheeks now warm in color like wine.

“First of all let me ask you Andrea, Why are you an artist?”

“Well, like you said, I am. It’s not something you choose to be, you just are, you think arts, and the first movements are artistic ones. I have drawn since I was very young, since I could manage the paper and the pencil. I use to draw people, and people living in houses, well, they were probably more like caves then.” She laughs with surprise at her own joke. Suddenly I feel like I’m directing the Brazilian version of Annie Hall. Andrea interrupts herself, “Please stop me if I talk too much, I tend to do that when I am anxious.” Her long brown hair slightly sun kissed in the front drapes her shoulders, a waterfall of hair and smiles.

“No, you go right ahead Andrea.” I could listen to you all day I think to myself. For her art, Andrea uses a combination of digital photography and sketching, although she admits without hesitation that her favorite pieces are the ones that come from sketches first. “Like Thanees Dream?” I ask her. A piece that I found to be very special, a portrait of young woman that looks to be dreaming.

“Well as you may know, Thanee is my daughter. And I made that piece while she was in a coma. So I drew her, and even though I may have drawn people before, it was not personal. I never drew anyone that I loved. She was the first piece of personal work that I sketched and more importantly, that I kept.”

“So would you say this was the most transformitive part of your career, as an artist, during the time Thanee was in Coma?”

“Yes, well, it just happened, everything with me is very intuitive. Sometimes I feel like I am not totally incarnated, and I am not prepared to deal with the realistic side of life. I think I am half dreaming and half present.” As Andrea speaks I quickly learn that her hands move in perfect correlation with her words. She moves them about in circles in front of her face. “But after Thanee’s Dream I gave myself over to art.” This time she makes a motion as though she were plucking ripe fruit from a tree.

“I know that there have been other influences on your art, primarily your boyfriend, Gallo, who is also an artist. Tell me about how he influences you today.”

A laugh and a then a silent head nod from her leaves me wondering if I have gotten too personal.

“He has been a great influence, the first work I posted was Trapped, and that was during a time when I was mad at him.” She laughs like he is in the room, there to reminisce with her, but of course he is not, the couple have lived apart for seven years now. “Usually when I get mad I do some kind of work and I express some kind of anger, or irritation through the work. You know, it is so funny, it works so beautifully.
I get so mad and then I just can’t talk to him and then I start to draw and before I am done with the work I begin to understand how he feels, and then I can see his side.”

“How do you keep your inspiration after the storm of your passion subsides?”

“External things inspire me, I react to the things around me, and there is no shortage of that. I cannot go after inspiration it comes to me, it is a natural thing. The last one I made of this series is Swimming on her night and it's Gallo's favorite of them... it depicts the passion... it depicts the woman's blood embracing her man... the fusion of masculine and feminine... the one. that's us... Gallo and I. One. Another series inspired in our love is the Soul Mate series:

“You mentioned that you have friends, one who is an anthropologist?’ Were they in some way the inspiration for your next piece Serene Warrior?"


"I have read that some think the piece gives a sense that there is a loss of innocence for the subject, in this case a little warrior girl. What do you think?”

“It has nothing to do with a loss of innocence. They are just different. Indians they are different than us. And since the tribes are passive, you never hear about wars with them. But, the ones that do engage in war are really doing so to defend their territory. And when I did that girl, she had that serene look while wearing war paint. Yet she was a child! And indeed, she is indeed a warrior; just being able to survive makes you a warrior.

Andrea continues after pause, “Mostly they (the Indians) are just peaceful and serene even though they are warriors. The Indians have a lot of wisdom. They are in touch with the earth, they have earth wisdom, and there is a real peace that comes with that.”

“I have never heard that before... “‘Earth Wisdom’”

As I started to look into the background of Andreas home, it was like a mosaic of her life, pieces of everything all tightly together to reflect her ‘earth wisdom’. When I asked her about her home she, par for the course, had a generous laugh and story for me.

“Well in Chinese horoscope I am the rat! And they make a nest of everything and they collect it. But a lot of things here belong to Gallo. So it is a mix of his things, mine things, our things, it is home. I suppose now, it looks like a pit bull, you know when you visit someone and they say ‘oh this pit bull is so nice’ and then the owner goes away, well that is the feeling my home will give you, it can be haunting.” Andrea, now laughing at her pack-rat-like ways makes me giggle in return. This is not a woman who takes herself too seriously, she is acutely aware of her shortcomings.

On the one hand it is evident that she has a deep and reflective side to her, like when she mentions certain people having ‘earth wisdom’, how the Indians flow with nature not against it. And yet she doesn’t take herself too seriously, her wisdom doesn’t seem to trump her humor, and as I learn, her laugh is very easy to provoke. When I ask her about this contrast she explains that this is something she gets asked about a lot.

“We are all multifaceted.” She explains. “Everybody is. If you talk to your husband, you deal with him in some passion, in some way, and then you are with your best girlfriend, and you are different to her, then you talk to an old woman, and you are different there too. For me, I can transit between the layers so easily. I guess some would say I am bipolar, I would say to them, “Fine! I am multipolar!” Andrea laughing now, “No really, it is not that I go from extreme happiness to extreme sadness, it is just that I am able to be sad and come out of it just like that.” She snaps her tan fingers. “We are reaction that is what we are. I never know what my work will be in the end, but it keeps changing, it is a mood, like me, that’s art.”

Let me ask you Andrea, “Have you always been a night owl, and work late into the night?”

“Yes, I always, since I was a child tried to stay as late as I could. When I was an adult and working with the movies, I use to have to stay up for days at a time. But, now I know that we need to refuel our soul with sleep.”

“How does your dream life affect your work?”

“I would say that I am a daydreamer. It is not (for me) what happens when I am sleeping it is what happens when I am not.” She hesitates. Then adds, “I dream of Gallo sometimes.”

Well it is no secret that many of Andrea’s work is influenced by her lover Gallo, like Til’ You Arrive and Loneliness. So I had to ask her, “How does the distance between the two of you affect your art?”

“Well most people think I am crazy for having this relationship, being so in love. And now I am in a situation like this, and it just goes beyond words, we are so intimate, and so close, I have never felt this way, so connected to anyone before.” Andrea hesitates and looks into the camera like someone who spots a distant ship in the horizon.

“Let’s talk a little more about your art, what has been a reoccurring theme in your work?”

“The only thing I was interested in drawing was people. And especially couples. Mainly, women. I have always loved to draw women. Because women are so beautiful, and they are the whole universe. They show in their body forms and in their eyes, they show everything. All those deep emotions and difficult emotions that we go through, it’s because we have so much life inside. You know? We are capable of bringing the kids, and raising them. And especially, I love to draw them naked.”

My ears now perking up, not so much at the thought of nudity or erotic art but at the idea that women, portrayed naked, are truly beautiful. I find this thought both obvious and deeply profound. Women, in all their shapes and sizes (not just the commercial beauties) are truly lovely.

Andrea adds, “And you know.” Her voice slightly trailing off, quieter now. “ I use to have my drawings destroyed.”

“What? Why?”

“I could not express who I was, so I kept it all inside, and I the only way I could express was to draw. And I would keep a notebook from my stepmother, full of my drawings. In my case, I use to keep a lot of emotions inside, because all of my life happens inside, and though I am expressive with my gestures and words, I keep my inner feelings hidden, few know. And when my stepmother would find my drawings of naked women, she would rip them all up. I got use to hiding everything.”

“I can’t help but wonder Andrea, if in some way the sense of rebellion, continuing to draw as a child even though you knew if you were caught it would be mean big trouble, has been a big motivator for you?”

“Certainly, yes. I learned to hide, which is not always so good. But, I couldn’t stop what I wanted to do, which was to draw, so in that sense, it helped me to know who I was.”

“And how have you managed to go from such a private state of self expression, especially in your case where you were forced to hide your art, to a more public place, where you are able to share it with the world?”


My voice erupts in nervous laughter. “So he is the reason you are coming out of your shell?”

“Absolutely. Yes. If it weren’t for him, I would have never shown my art. I never thought I could. But, he is so open, and so brazen with his own work; he gets me to a place where I am not so shy. I learned that it doesn’t matter if my work is better or worse, it is my opinion. Gallo is so strongly masculine, I say that his feminine side is his communion with the earth, the real true life. But overall his attitude is completely masculine, the total Mars. In my latest series when Mars meets Venus I am showing not only my encounter with Gallo, but the feminine in men. It's a virile figure with wavy feminine forms around him... flowers, colors... the masculine meets the feminine... Mars meets Venus....”

“Well thank you Andrea for choosing to share, I am very grateful for your work.”

“Nossa. Nossa. I am so happy to know…thank you.”

More of Andrea Ribeiro's art can be seen at: DreaM / Art Thou / andreacreations / 23eggs
/ kitty23 / tropogirl / redfrog / personalrender

1 comment:

arnild´s space said...

How deliciously refreshing is this interview, this getting to know Andrea!