Nostalgic Suburban Scenes Laced With The Memory Of Violence

Henrique de França, born in the early ‘80s and currently living and working in São Paulo, is an up and coming master in capturing the past in a simple and contrasting present moment. His back-catalogue focusses on urban violence, juxtaposed yet overlapping social spheres, and individual memory, and is extensive in scope and close-to-the-bone for urban dwellers.

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Muted watercolours – framed in a vignette of light redolent of candid nocturnal photography – describes the fall-out from undisclosed eruptions of violence or economic downturns. Passive bodies strapped to gurneys with arresting brushstrokes of white link his paintings to the striking chiaroscuro illustrations he shares with us here, with his most recent project: The Torpor Series. The prize-winning artist blends sharp lines and real space in these images, ones presided over by the lengthy shadows cast (with equal power) by the objects within the image, and the memories the images arouse.

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The Plus: What was it that made you begin illustration?
Henrique de França:
I have been drawing since I was 4, in school, like any child. But I enjoyed it so much that it felt natural to stay home drawing all day long instead of playing outdoors.

TP: What materials did you use, and what attracts you to using them?
HDF:
I have experimented with a lot of mediums whilst in college, but coming down to pencil and paper for me is like staying true to drawing, and trying to make the most of it with so little is fascinating.

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TP: What inspires the narratives behind these illustrations?
HDF:
The themes I’m working with in these last series are mostly inspired by the time I lived in the countryside from 7 to 8 years old. Until then, I was growing up in Sao Paulo city, so it was a big change. But it doesn’t mean it’s autobiographical. I use these memories to discuss contemporary drawing and Brazilian society.

TP: How did you develop this stylised, surrealist look?
HDF:
Like I said, I experimented with a lot of mediums in college, and it took a lot of time, even after college, studying and reading to understand what I really needed as an artist. It was a long process of “cleansing” to get rid of things that were unnecessary to what I wanted to say with my work.

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TP: Children feature a lot in this series; why is that?
HDF:
I like confronting generations to reflect upon past and present.

TP: The images seem nostalgic; can the same be said about the practice of monochromatic ink illustration?
HDF:
I think it looks nostalgic because of the resemblance with old photographs, which is intentional in my work.

TP: What are your hobbies, apart from drawing?
HDF:
Swimming and cinema.

TP: What next?
HDF:
Keep on drawing.

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