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BIO


Artist Statement – J.Leo
 
I cannot really explain why I do what I do, it just happens. All that I can tell you is that I notice or think about something in the daytime and when I dream at night it all comes together; I see the work in gloriously vivid Technicolor. All I now have to is create the painting or sculpture. As I work I adapt it somewhat but essentially it is the dream. There is no effort involved it just flows out of me, as I said it is what I do.
 
My earliest memories are of my father. He was an artist whose passion was sculpture. As a two year old I was completely fascinated by how he could create something out of nothing. I spent hours sitting with him just watching him in action. His work often took him away so I attempted to recreate this magic in his absence; this is how I started and I retain this feeling to this day. 
 
My style seems to have been influenced by Africa, where I spent my formative years. I lived in Angola on the coast and as a child spent much of my time exploring nature which was all around me.  I think it is this that gives me my unique style, strong clear light, vibrant colours, the sheer vastness of the open spaces in Africa, natural themes. 
 
Surrealism just happened without me knowing I was doing it. I remember, as a six year old, sitting against the wall outside my father’s bedroom window, listening to him playing his violin to relax after a hard days work. His habit was to lean by the window so as I looked up all I could see was his bow moving in and out of the house. This was my first surreal experience, a magic bow, dissociated from my father, making music by itself. That Christmas I drew a nativity scene at school with a jet plane leaving a vapour trail across the sky, instead of a star for the wise men to follow. My teacher battered me for this, an experience repeated often as criticism of my style, but it is me and I continue.
 
At about the age of 20, while still living in Angola, I picked up a copy of the Match magazine. Dali stared out at me, an eccentric looking man with unusual art. I had never seen or heard of surrealism but suddenly here was someone who was eccentric like me and painted like me but unlike me was accepted. At this point I felt I was not alone and a great wave of relief and joy washed over me. I cannot see that I would have stopped painting without this realisation but it gave me confidence to know that others were doing the same thing.
 
My mother and father had a terrible relationship which certainly affected me. I also have an elder brother who continually tried to mould me in his image but always failed as I am what I am. I was battered by the males and suffocated by my mother with overprotection. The only one who possibly understood and appreciated what I do never told me, I say this from what my mother reluctantly told me about my father years later. Art was and still is my solace, a place where I gain a certain peace and satisfaction from the uncertainly and insensitivity of human relationship. This passion for creation was in me as a young child and will likely never leave.
 
Art isn‘t a way of life for me, it is my life. I am only truly happy when I am creating. I paint fine art and sculpt but I also gain satisfaction from creating anything with my hands. I am a trained fashion designer and have made props for films and theatre. I have also designed shops and furniture / murals for people’s homes. To me the world is an art studio and creating is the point, anything will do as long as beauty is part of the result. I have tried to change my style for commercial reasons but this has never worked. Many times I have begun painting with the intention of copying others work but I just can’t do it. As soon as I start I flow back to my own ways, anything else is not satisfying, painting by numbers, painting without feeling and passion, not my way. 
 
Some like what I do and some don’t, I cannot help this. What is important is that I like my work and the process of making it, it is my passion. As I said it is just what I do.
 
 

 BIOGRAPHY

 

Born in Portugal, Moimenta da Beira, and raised in Africa (Angola), of Brazilian father and Portuguese mother.

Self-taught artist. Worked as artistic painter at Cinematography Company (Cinangola) in Luanda, Angola. Later, took a course of packaging design at International Fair of Luanda by the hand of French designer, Mr. Cloud Ternard.
 
In Luanda, created some cover design for the G.T.E.E., technique brochure of J.A.E.A. (Junta Autónoma de Estradas de Angola/ Main Roads Board Council of Angola).
 
Works temporarily as advertising designer in a local agency.

Follows a course of theater performing as scenery decor's, and made some works at this field locally, at Clube Experimental de Teatro (Experimental Drama Studio), and in Johannesburg, South Africa.
In 1975, after several trips to South Africa, moved to Johannesburg, in order to make a course of Fashion Design, and finished it later at the Dressmaking School with 90% grading.

In Johannesburg, took a temporarily job at Devilliers and Co. as a packing artist designer.

Also worked in some fashion atelier as fashion designer and printer on a pattern material. During this period, made some experiences of fashion photo model.

In Johannesburg, made a training course of Silk Screen Techniques, by the hand of Greek technician Mr. J. Kalinicos, at his atelier.