Por Hélder Ramos


Esta semana continuamos com a série de artigos e entrevistas aos quatro artistas luso-Canadianos que irão expôr no Sem Saudade: Contemporary Art by Canadians of Portuguese Heritage, patente ao público de 18 de Maio a 29 de Junho, 2002 no Cambridge Galleries em Cambridge, Ontario.

Joe Lima é um artista plástico que nasceu em São Miguel em 1963.  Os pais são da aldeia da Ribeira Funda, no norte da ilha.  Em 1967, a família inteira emigrou para o Canadá e ficou radicada em Woodstock, Ontario.

Eis a entrevista, seguida de uma descrição do trabalho de Joe Lima, incluido no programa da exposição, escrito pela directora artistica, Anna Camara.

Info sobre Sem Saudade:1-519-621-0460 ou na internet: http://www.gallerycambridge.on.ca.




S.P. How did you become an artist?


J.L.  At an early age I had a great interest in painting and drawing and after high school, I enrolled at the Fine Arts program at Fanshawe College in London, Ontario. At 24, I moved to Montreal, where I studied Visual Arts at Concordia University. I have been a practicing artist for 19 years.


S.P. Did you get any encouragement or support for your chosen field from your family?


J.L.  I was encouraged by my Mother to pursue my interests in the arts. Her support allowed me the freedom to explore and research the nature of my art.  My influences are greatly linked to Portuguese folklore and narratives, (religious festivals, parades and gatherings). The images relating to these stories would play a great part in developing my art, and nourish a desire to express a separate identity in the Canadian landscape. 


S.P. How has your upbringing affected your work? That is, when you mention a "seperate identity" within the Canadian landscape, how would you describe it?


J.L.  At an early age I was extremely affected by what I call Portuguese images. Images in the church, images at home. For example the religious festivals had so much drama and color that was so different then anything I saw in my Canadian environment. The festivals and gatherings also revealed a sense of pain and sadness. A pain that I now feel related to something that was lost and unobtainable.  A great deal of storytelling took place in my upbringing. I felt a need and a desire to know more about something my parents left behind in their country. I felt no desire to understand the place my parents had decided to move to. Although I adopted certain privileges of North American society, my ideas were constantly referring to a small distant land, mysterious and waiting.  This would greatly influence my creative output.


S.P. What are you working on at present?


J.L.  I am beginning a series of large parade frescos. This is a commissioned work for a private collection in Montreal. I will probably be going to Portugal in September to do research for a mural work in that country.


S.P. What will you be presenting at Sem Saudade & how does it fit into your "oeuvre" (body of work), thematically, technically, etc.


J.L. For the exhibition, “Sem Saudade” I am presenting 4 frescos (Landsite paintings), and 4 portraits. These works represent a series of frescos, which reveal images collected during my recent visits to Portugal. During this period I was rediscovering specific sites and places of personal interest. These sites evoked a sense of desire for something that is lost. Most of the Landsite paintings and portraits are lonely, empty and silent. The work revolves around a relationship between human conditions and specific sites.


S.P. Where do you see yourself going, as an artist?


J.L.  It’s hard to say what direction one goes as an artist. For me it’s about exploration, developing ideas and techniques that I consider important to my work.  I also feel that it is important to work outside of one’s familiar surroundings. I have a studio in the Azores were I work when I am there. This allows me the chance to discover new sites and subjects for my work.

Untitled Portrait 2002 - Pigmented plaster on wood (fresco)



Joe Lima: Selections from Untitled Portraits (1995-1996) and Red Landscapes (2001-2002)

by Anna Camara


As with Toronto artsist Marie de Sousa’s I Could Be You, the most striking thing on first viewing Joe Lima’s portraits is how unmistakably Portuguese the faces look. Despite an infinite variety of particulars, these faces offer ready-made, genetically coded identities. His subjects are Portuguese strangers caught out in somber crowds and people that he knows well. Untitled Portraits began when Lima received a commission from the Government of Quebec to paint murals of Portuguese religious festivals. At one of these events, a serious fight led to bloodshed and, seeing the painted blood on a statue of Christ and the real blood on the faces and clothing of men, Lima was suddenly aware of blood as a colour. He wanted to render - sometimes in narrative sequence - the unaffected pain that Lima says he observed in the faces and bodies of his subjects.  Using the body as an allegorical map to “interior mysteries….  uncertainties and pain”.

Lima traces his interest in fresco painting to his training in Lisbon as a sculptor, after which he sought the portability of paint while retaining the scale and three-dimensionality of sculpture. The problem was resolved by making “walls within a frame”. He is a formalist, attracted to the meticulous process - by the fact that the painting takes place within the wet plaster at the same time that it reflects light from its surface. The work is done by sections, each requiring quick applications of paint; many layers that cannot be fully seen or understood, as Lima puts it, “Until it is finished. Like a story.”


The apparently quiet scenes in Lima’s Red Landscapes, with their fleshy, pocked surfaces - exterior views constrained by interior perspectives - seem, in correlation to the portraits, as uneasy as allergic humans in a hayfield. Narrative figures largely in Lima’s development. His mother told compelling family stories about the Açores and the past but insisted that he not glamorize the past and the poverty of the island, São Miguel. Nevertheless, her stories formed mental images that Lima, raised in Canada, transposed into memories. Some of his earlier landscapes act, like fictional memoirs, as reconstructed or reinvented memories. When he returned to his birthplace in 1992, Lima made immediate connections between familiar faces and their native surroundings; between people, their histories and their backyards. Lima maps unconscious paths and symptoms alike - both in sites that he has visited or remembered and in figures that bear lines, scars and vis.!