Ugandan artists who have joined illuminations

Update to the Millerntor Gallery

Mari, are you well? How is the COVID-19 pandemic affecting your life?


I'm fine, safe and healthy, thank you for asking and I hope you are doing well, too. But thousands of lives have been affected by the pandemic in Brazil and we have many other issues that have also been affecting the population, such as the horrible presidency, unemployment and social inequality, for example. It's really a very sad moment in the history of our country that we are facing.


You live and work in São Paulo. Since when are you in this city?


I was born in the city of Tupã, in the countryside of São Paulo, but I have moved to the capital 15 years ago.


Is there something special about the atmosphere of places like São Paulo, that makes them inspirational for you as an artist?


São Paulo always impressed me, for a long time I was afraid to move to here, but over the years I got used to it and found my place here. I started to feel part of the city when I started to do graffiti through the downtown streets. São Paulo has given me many opportunities since the beginning. It's a dual feeling of living here, the city gives a lot to you but it also absorbs you a lot. There are many inspiring places, and I like to see the urban scenes, although there is a lot of poverty and a lot of pain involved, living here is like a catharsis for me. But nothing compares to being near to the forest, connected, bare feet, and whenever I can I take refuge in the middle of nature.


As an artist you have been traveling to Peru, Nepal, Germany and South Africa. Where do you have the feeling of being at home?


I feel at home close to my family, wherever they are, and this includes my friends for sure! But this question is interesting, it makes me to think too, because I feel that I connect in some way everywhere I go, managing to transform the atmosphere around me into a home. I like to talk to people, interact, hug, I really appreciate a simple exchange of sincere eyes. And in every place I pass, I know that part of me stayed there and much of it come with me. Traveling is a constant movement of contraction and expansion.


When did you start painting?


8 years ago I painted my first graffiti in an unpretentious way.


Do you remember a kind of a defining moment, when it felt safe to you to live with the idea of ​​being an artist?


Wow, it took me a few years to recognize myself as an artist. I was peeling myself like an onion! I have always had my drawings just for fun, since my childhood. Going to the street and painting a wall was really a scream of freedom, before that I felt suffocated within a life that no longer fit me. I worked for many years in a bank at the financy market, I graduated in advertising and marketing, at the time I started painting I worked in this area on an internet news portal. Then I started giving voice to my wishes, and everything changing afterwards. But the really decisive moment where I faced myself and started to recognize myself as an artist was in 2014, when I left my job to make art my life.


Mari, many of your works you create in the public space. Is “street art” or “mural art” a proper definition of your art? Or would you prefer "visual art"?


I believe so. In the end, this is basically the same thing. Whether painting murals, using sprays or brushes, painting on canvas, making digital art, it's always a way to express yourself artistically. I consider myself a visual artist, as I like to explore different ways of creating, covering all visual possibilities. Graffiti, street art, muralism ...


Have you been influenced by other artists?


Yes, without a doubt many inspiring women were references for me, from Frida Kahlo, Georgia O’Keeffe and Tarsila do Amaral to Nina Pandolfo, Alice Pasquini, Katia Suzue and Tikka Meszaros.


Your artistic work is very colorful. You’ve said once, you believe in the power of colors. Have colors a particularly strong affect on us?


Yes, I believe it because colors are really powerful, as being therapeutic as well. Colors have the power to raise the vibrational frequency of environments and people. Combining colors and working with them is a super natural process for me, and I intend to use them in a way that can raise the vibrations of love, joy and harmony.


Many of your paintings show the face of a women with closed eyes. Is there something special about the women with closed eyes?


In my pictures the woman with the closed eyes is present, feeling, being part of the whole universe. If we think that everything we see with our eyes open is part of a great illusion, we can only see the truth when we look inside, and for that we need to close them, to find all the answers we are looking for.


Does this apply to your painting experience, too?


If I referred to the creative process, yes, every new painting experience is part of an evolutionary moment for my being, whether it expanding my consciousness, my motor skills, my feeling.


As a human being you are deeply convinced that you are connected with the great mother and her elements. How does this connection influence your art?


I feel very honored and blessed by life, and as a being from the land, I love, honor and respect the great mother, we are the fruits of it. Each day I learn a little more to connect with her, and I am grateful for how much she inspires me to create, in its most diverse forms. Whether drinking water, lighting a firewood, or a candle, talking to the plants along the way, feeling the wind touching my face, nourishing me with vegetables and minerals (I love the crystals) and closing my eyes and seeing all the colors and sacred geometries and spirals of energy behind all of that. There's a phrase that I love a lot, it is part of a song. It says: "Fire brings me action, air releases lightness, water is the source of emotion and the earth is my firmness."


Mari, you have once said, in your art it is all about love. Could you describe the feelings and thoughts, which you want to express in your art?


Love is the basis of everything, basically that. It is a hug that involves a range of feelings, memories and emotions creating an aggregator of light that connects everyone as one.

One of the things I love most about painting is that each person who connects to my art, sees it in a different way, but in the end they are all right. Because I paint to really make you feel, and the feeling of each being in particular.


Which of your paintings do you love the most?


They all have a story behind, a lived moment, a process, a phase of my life. I must say that I love the one I'm still going to create, and I don't know yet. Now, if I can tell which experience I loved so much, and has a special place in my heart, I can say that it was painting in Nepal. It was the first time in my life that I traveled so far from home, to be part of that beautiful social project of Viva con Agua, taking my art and inspiring people, with such a different culture, I was really delighted with every moment I did experience there, I am still thrilled just to remember the moments, painting on the streets of Kathmandu, interacting with people without even speaking a word and happening a huge connection. It was wonderful and very special!