“My Brain” Meet Rui Marques

“My Brain” belongs to Rui Marques. It is his logo, represents his brain, and is also intended to bring awareness to autism in the Algarve.

I first saw some of Rui’s artwork at a spring fair in Porches, where Rui and his family live. What struck me about Rui’s paintings was the vibrancy and richness of colours. His paintings vary from images of animals or scenery to the abstract and almost Klimt-like colour and detail. I was in awe! I was also impressed at how his parents, Elsa and Rui (senior), and sister, Patricia, were there at his side to support him and his artwork. 

Rui, now 22, was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) at the age of two. Elsa recounts how he appeared to be a normal baby but then showed signs that caused concern: he would fixate on an object and his speech simply did not develop. It was difficult to get the proper diagnosis – and when they finally did, it was severe ASD. Rui’s parents were determined to do everything they could to help their son, including finding a good doctor. 

And they did. Dra. Guiomar Oliveira, a doctor in paediatric neurodevelopment at the University Hospital of Coimbra. Once a month, Rui and his parents travelled from Porches to Coimbra for his treatment and therapy until he was 18. With the help of Dra. Guiomar, Rui attended a specialised schooling programme in Ferreiras, where he was able to develop some basic skills. Elsa and Rui (senior) are very grateful to Dra. Guiomar. With her assistance and their efforts, his ASD diagnosis has improved from severe to normal. 

At a young age, Rui demonstrated a genuine liking and interest in painting. At the age of seven, he participated in a local art exhibition and was placed third. The other participants were 13 years and older. His first painting depicts him and his sister. As his mother explained, “Painting calms his mind.”

Rui’s mother is tenacious when it comes to finding ways to support Rui and his creativity. She made an appeal to the President of the Câmara de Lagoa to allow Rui to continue in the after-school programme at the Escola de Artes Mestre Fernando Rodrigues three times a week, even though he is no longer at school. Rui is very fond of his mentor, José Francisco, whom I had the pleasure of meeting. José exudes patience and kindness and likes to work with students who have learning or neurological challenges. 

Apart from the local support of the Escola de Artes in Lagoa, Rui has the support of a non-profit organisation in Portimão called Teia D’Impulsos. Their social outreach programme FICA  (Ferias Inclusivas para a Comunidade) gives children and young adults like Rui the chance to be involved in a variety of social activities. 

I last saw Rui and his familyat the recent Feira da Juventude at the Fatacil in Lagoa, where Rui had his stand with his signature artwork. Elsa told me Rui met Carolina Deslandes, a well-known Portuguese singer, on the first night of the event. It was very emotional for Rui’s parents to see their son embraced by Carolina and it is thanks to her that Rui’s Instagram following has leaped. Her support for Rui’s artistic endeavours was, in part, based on the fact that her eldest son also has autism spectrum disorder. 

My interview with Elsa ended with her saying that, more than anything, she wishes a cure could be  found to give her son the chance to live a more independent life. She worries about his future because he is dependent on his family.  It is, for this reason, they are safeguarding his paintings for now – to give him some security later on in life.

Rui’s artwork can be enjoyed at various upcoming local fairs, including Fatacil in Lagoa from 18 to 27 August.


Autism is a neurological condition that is characterised by difficulties in communication and social interaction and associated with repetitive behaviour or characterised with a singular focus on an object or theme. 

For more on Rui’s artwork and story:

Instagram: @mybrainpt

Facebook: @mybrainpt


Teia D’Impulsos: teiadimpulsos.pt

Arts School in Lagoa: www.cm-lagoa.pt/viver/cultura-e-cidadania/escola-de-artes-de-lagoa


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