Soul as the canvas
Romero Britto has an abiding gratitude for art. “My obsession with colours has transformed my life.
"It has changed a childhood of pain into a future of joyful accomplishments and has replaced sadness with cheerfulness. What more could I ask for?'' the Brazilian artist says.
Over the next two months, Britto's sculptures will be on display outside the Gate Village in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC). His paintings and more sculptures can be seen at the Opera Gallery in DIFC.
Colours and painting caught Britto's fancy when he was 8.
“I never thought my hobby would become my profession. It was a daring thought that never crossed my mind,'' he says.
He initially wanted to be a diplomat and studied international law. But as he became more involved in painting, he realised that a career as a diplomat was not what he was interested in.
“An attachment to colours led me in the direction of art. I followed my inner voice and decided to become a full-time artist when I was 22.''
He left Brazil and headed for the United States, where he has been living for the past 23 years.
His affair with colours has provided him with opportunities to visit several countries, learn about other cultures and languages and meet people from around the world.
Britto aspires to spread happiness and joy through his works.
“I bring hope, optimism, love, peace and cheerfulness — not images of fear. Maybe this is because I had to face harsh circumstances in my childhood,'' says the artist who was born in 1963 in Recife, Brazil, into a poor family.
“I rebelled against my situation and was determined that I would shape my life the way I wanted.''
He believes willpower can do miracles. “God has given human beings the potential to constantly learn and improve.
Life is nothing but choices. We are given the freedom to knock at any door of life and build ourselves,'' the artist says.
Britto says he has always dreamt of turning pain into joy. To this end, he set up the Britto Foundation in 2007 to support individuals and organisations that promote education and humanitarian initiatives for children.
The universe is Britto's inspiration. “I believe existence in this universe has a purpose. My role as an artist is to authenticate the importance of that existence in the world of fantasy and dreams and also in my own world — the world of colours,'' he says.
Yellow is one of the colours the artist likes most.
“It represents the Sun, life, vibrancy and energy. It means so much to me, relaxes me and makes me feel good.''
He is also fond of red, blue and green. His liking for green is born out of his love for gardens.
“The grass, trees and the flowers provide positive energy and are sources of ideas,'' he says.
Besides colours, love is the other source of “positive energy'' for Britto. The message of love is a common theme in his works.
“Love combines the meaning of life and creativity. It makes you a remarkable member of society,'' the artist says. “Love also motivates — it can transform you into a person that future generations will consider an example.''
Talking of the works he considers highlights of his career, Britto names an installation of a 45-foot-tall pyramid in Hyde Park.
He expects to complete another installation in North America in the next couple of years.
He was also asked to make a sculpture that will be placed in front of O2, Berlin's newest stadium.
Britto says his visit to Dubai and Abu Dhabi offers him a great opportunity to show his work and interact with lovers of art.
“When I first visited Dubai, I came with 40 other artists. Now I'm represented by the famous French gallery Opera.''
He is elated that the ruling family of Abu Dhabi has bought several of his paintings. “I'm extremely happy with such appreciation. I highly value the status of art in the UAE.''
Asked whether his paintings are expensive or can be easily acquired, he says: “My art is available to all because I want everyone to enjoy it. I have works ranging from $250 to $1 million.''