Julian Putley visited the 2023 Art Expo Algarve in the Portimão Arena and discovered an exciting and diverse range of artists.
The first Art Expo Algarve, an art exhibition organised by John Ganhão, brought together over 150 national and international artists under the same roof. In the future, it could well become Portugal’s largest contemporary art fair, such was the diverse group of artists of different genres.
The three-day event was a resounding success, with artists of many persuasions presenting their exhibits to a never-ending flow of interested observers and potential buyers. The different mediums on display included oils, acrylic, pen and ink, watercolours and various combinations. There were sculptures, too, with decorated mannequins and underwater creatures cleverly created using waste materials.
Gregor from Gregorio Arte began his career as an artist in Zambia and later in Angola. In those early days, he was contracted to design album covers and record labels. Now, many years later, he resides in Praia da Luz and specialises in oils crafted with knife and brush. His subject material ranges from brilliant seascapes to Portuguese cultural compositions and the baroque buildings of the Moorish era and later. His studio overlooking the varying moods of the sea with beach and cliffs provide him with almost daily inspiration. His small shop at Souvenir da Luz displays his latest creations.
Another artist with roots in Africa is Lorraine Randall. She moved to Portugal some five years ago and brought with her a wealth of talent that has been running in the family for generations. She works in oil and loves to bring animals to life, just the way you would see them in the bush or jungle, capturing the very essence of the bird, big cat or even elephant.
The most unusual and eye-catching exhibit was provided by Alberto Patrucco, originally from Turin, Italy. His career in art began with forging or shaping metals with heat and various tools. From these early beginnings, Alberto decided to use this art form to create a wide-ranging inventory of underwater creatures, mostly exotic fish, using obsolete and unwanted materials. His display of colourful exhibits was crowded with interested onlookers. His message is that ‘one man’s waste is another man’s treasure’ and that recycling is the answer to some of the world’s biggest problems.
The winner and award recipient for the best display went to Ana Archer, a Brazilian whose artistic career began as a fashion designer. When she moved to Rio de Janeiro, she was influenced by Carioca artists and began to develop her present style of applying primary colours in acrylic to large canvases. “A work can take several weeks,” she explains, “but my best creations flow from a continuous vision.” Now residing in the Algarve, Ana’s work can be found in collections in Europe, Brazil and the United States.
Toni Dade specialises in botanical art: seeds, flowers, plants and trees through the seasons and their path through life. She lives in southern Portugal and during country walks, she observes the landscape, abundant as it is in nature. Her work is extremely intricate as she records the plant’s stages from seed to decay. Her medium is watercolour, ideal for the close detail required for her work, which has earnt her many awards and fellowships amongst her accolades. Toni offers weekly classes at Escola de Artes de Lagoa as well as retreats and workshops.
The biggest attraction at the exhibition was the work of MARAMGONI. This celebrated Brazilian artist not only posted a brilliant display of his art but actually painted a work-in-progress to an awestruck crowd. His technique is unique and his use of light creates an ambience specific to the mood of the picture. Scenes in a city like London, Lisbon or Porto are accurate in the minutest detail. His shading and highlights almost put you in the picture. You can feel yourself sloshing through rain-soaked streets or turning up your collar on a foggy evening; it’s that realistic.
Only a handful of the many talented artists are mentioned here, but everyone I talked to said they were delighted with the turnout and are looking forward to the next event in September 2023. This highly anticipated future event will be for both established and emerging artists, galleries and artist collectives, to exhibit and sell high-quality artworks directly to the public. Gregorio of Gregorio Arte mentioned that he is particularly interested in the upcoming date because the expected clientele will “have a more experienced eye and appreciation for art”.