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Profilic portraitist Mario Henrique on his new Ballerinas Series

Mario Henrique is an artist based in Cascais, Portugal. A prolific portraitist, Mario is fascinated by the unpredictability of the human behaviour: the brief glances, the impermanence of facial expressions, the sudden movements. Making use of uncommon and “rough” materials, like cardboards, reversed canvases and hardware tools, he paints abruptly and spontaneously. His approach relies on drippings, splashes and paint throws, so that the physicality of the painting process is transparent in the final piece. 

Listed in various private collections across Europe, America and Asia, he has exhibited in galleries both locally and abroad, and was awarded an Honourable Mention for his participation in the Brasília Biennial of Contemporary Arts 2016. He was also featured in Saatchi Art’s Inside The Studio and is currently represented by the prestigious Bill Lowe Gallery in Atlanta, GA (USA) and Corno Gallery in Montreal (Canada). Mario owns a studio/gallery at the Marina, in Cascais (Portugal), where some of his paintings are publicly exhibited.

What different ways did you use to explore the spontaneous and abrupt body movements of ballet dancers?

I try to convey the idea of movement through spontaneous brush strokes, thrown paint and scraping techniques. I usually have some looped videos of ballerinas dancing or just plain photos as reference, and start from there. Ballerinas are very interesting subjects: they’re sensual and apparently fragile figures, but immensely strong and powerful at the same time.

Who/what inspires you usually? And how long did you take to master this unique process in your art?

To be honest, I always thought that inspiration is somewhat overrated. I try not to rely to much on it - it’s more important to be self aware and mindful of your surroundings. I like to think that my work comes from discipline rather than inspiration. I’ve been painting for all my life, so my process is a natural evolution of my approach to this form of art. I don’t feel that I’ve mastered anything, there’s always room for improvement.

Why do you want to create the "Ballerinas Series”? When will it be released?

My latest Ballerinas Series is number XV. I usually paint a Ballerinas Series between other portrait paintings, which are more contrived and detail oriented. After painting a more meticulous piece, like a large portrait painting, it’s good to be let loose and create more spontaneous and abrupt pieces.

Do you always aim to "be fast and spontaneous when you are painting"? How fast did you take to complete one piece of oil painting art (from start to finish)?

I’m very fast and impulsive when painting - that process should be reflected in the painting. Usually, it takes me about a week to complete a portrait painting, with short sessions each day - I paint in layers, so I have to wait for a layer to dry before moving on with the next one. So I usually paint on 2 or 3 canvases at the same time, with short sessions each day, and try to finish the pieces within 3 to 5 days. For the Ballerina Series, the process is much faster - usually I paint an entire series in one single session, which takes me around 5 to 7 uninterrupted hours to complete.

Why do you think spontaneity is important? Which tools do you use to achieve this effect?

It’s not that I’m impatient, I'm just interested in conveying the idea of movement in my work; you should be able to feel the physicality of the painting process, and try to guess how each brush stroke was made, when observing my paintings. I use simple tools, mostly from hardware shops (rough brushes and palette knives, construction scraping tools, etc.).

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Profilic portraitist Mario Henrique on his new Ballerinas Series Reviewed by JaamZIN on 7:17:00 AM Rating: 5
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