A classically trained painter, Diogo Navarro is a master of landscape paintings, some depicting stormy weather and others warm sunsets. What distinguishes his eye is deconstructing the traditional formula to create his paintings. You see, the assemblages; his most famous series, are all created by introducing new elements to the painting, like sand, metal wire and newly found objects in the location he is painting the minimal and almost abstract impromptus.
Meeting with Diogo was like meeting The Little Prince. The Portuguese artist cannot escape his ancestry, that includes his great grandfather King of Portugal, Dom João VI who travelled to Brazil to save the cultural heritage from being destroyed by rebels against the royal family. The poet Vasco Navarro de Graça Moura is also a close relative.
Navarro was born in Mozambique and later brought up in Portugal. Mozambique is the place that holds the keys to his inspiration; the exotic background of his childhood, the smells, sounds and colours. Just like in The Little Prince “adults are never satisfied with where they were and what they were after; only the children among them ever bothered to look out the windows”.
Three years ago Diogo returned to Mozambique to rediscover his younger self and reflect on his roots. The outcome was a group performance painting; a collaboration with two local painters and a musical performer laying down the tempo of the painting. The serendipity African words: Kaya, which means house, Buya: return and Kwela: climb to the top; appeared on the canvas and for Navarro it was a sweet reassurance of his artistic journey.
Buya Kaya, 2013
Acrylic on canvas
207cm x 256cm.
The Face Series is inspired by the traditional clothing the women of Viana do Castelo (in Minho; a former province of Portugal) wear, especially Navarro’s grandmother where she was from. The vibrant colours that the traditional clothing have, have caught Navarro’s eye and he transposed his interest of pattern and colour into portraying a mysterious face as the subject. Navarro is always working instinctively without any preparatory work, his brushstrokes create a movement that shape the female face. He also uses golden elements in the paintings, which distinctively feature in Celtic culture. Even though he is incredibly skilled, he has consciously decided to give the work a naïve neo-expressionism appeal.
Diogo Navarro in his studio with three paintings from The Face Series.
The Portuguese painter is always interested to give back to his community and he has greatly been involved in visiting Artist Studios in Mozambique as well as fundraising activities. His latest activity includes a collaboration with Touch A Life Care Center in Ghana, where he created a number of group paintings with the children as well as independently. All works were auctioned in Portugal to support the education of 95 children for a year.
The paintings were taken back to Portugal to be auctioned.
Interesting facts about the artist:
- he only paints at night
- when painting, he listens to the radio
- the first work he sold was a drawing, at the age of 7.
Acrylic on canvas
150 x 400 cm
Acylic on canvas
200 x 500 cm
Navarro’s works are represented in many private and public collections including the Portuguese Embassy of Vatican in Rome, Italy; Embassy of Portugal in Kinshasa, Congo; Embassy of United States in Lisbon, National Museum of Natural History and Science in Lisbon, as well as Palácio Nacional da Ajuda in Lisbon, Portugal.
Upcoming exhibition opens October 21st
at Fundação Dom Luís I
More about Diogo Navarro, here
For business inquiries please contact: Kasar.Akhtar@gmail.com
All imagery copyrighted; Diogo Navarro’s archive