Luis Geraldes Book
A Personal History
I am a bouquet of wild flowers, blending scents of various natures.
Studio practice does not fall out of the sky ready-made or emerge in a vacuum, but directly and indirectly the artist draws upon the stock of personal experiences, memories and feeling for subject matter. The products of imagination are indelibly linked with life. This section presents a brief personal history and outlines the salient experiences that have influenced and shaped my artistic imagination.
The second of four children, I was born on May 15, 1957 of Portuguese parents, in a small village of Beira Baixa, Portugal, Western Europe. At the age of four years of age I journeyed with my mother, older brother and younger sister to join my father in what was then the Portuguese colony of Angola, Western Africa. I lived here until the age of eighteen. My family settled with twenty two white families in a one street hamlet in Quissakel-Quanza North, a small countryside mining town about 300 km out of the capital, Luanda. Here we lived surrounded by various townships of local inhabitants.
My formative years were lived shifting between two cultures. With the openness and acceptance of a young mind I absorbed the rich and complex culture of the underdeveloped African village. At the same time I practiced and lived the culture and beliefs of my Portuguese background. Living in a white settlement while maintaining both the beliefs and practices of a Christian country and absorbing the traditions of various African tribal practices, I was involved at many levels with varied and divergent spiritual influences.
As a young boy I used to spend Sunday mornings attending Catholic services and in the afternoon watching tribal dances. I marvelled at the magic rituals performed by the fetish people, and walking through the black townships I observed the scenes of village life.
It was here, that I discovered the power of shape, colour and line. Native houses were covered in strong geometric decoration or protection from evil spirits. What could be considered belonging to an ‘other’ world, had strong foundations and purpose in earthly human desires – the need for shelter and security.
I became familiar with the visually and spiritually strong and vibrant designs and symbols applied on the outside walls of the mud brick houses. The stylised images of animals and humans of central and west African masks, and colours used to decorate even items of everyday use have left an indelible impression on my imagination.
Also with x-ray drawings and symbols engraved in rocks, and small sculptures that the townspeople used, to represent the power of the deceased.
The exterior walls of the huts were covered with intriguing designs: triangles and diamonds, filled with earth colours, and featuring primitive magical figures. As I became familiar with village people, I learned the secrets behind such designs, shapes and figures that protected the families of the village from bad spirits. I also saw the egg shaped cooking pots raised above the open fire places, steam floating up flavoured with the aroma of wild leaves in the quiet of the early evening. Here was the physical sustenance for the village people, the life-giving object that gave rise to the appearing/disappearing egg shape in my later paintings – the cosmic egg that symbolizes the new life.
The traditional villages exposed me to living art forms that were a natural and functional aspect of African life. Seeing the simple structure of the traditional buildings, led me to realise the power of the line. The huts were constructed with poles and grasses that made definite lines and patterns, while serving the function of shelter and security. They appeared as cubist designs, showing boldness and strength and became a feature in my later adult work.
Luis Geraldes : www.facebook.com/geraldesart
To be continued………….