Tamara Alves’ art is doused with melancholy, from the gaze and posture of the subject to the pallor of her palette. It is restrained in the same way that Japanese culture celebrates, outwardly noble and sober, but hinting at something far more fearsome within, something that comes out in dreams and unconscious thought.
With the ghostly presence of an ethereal form, Alves’ murals and large-scale art can be seen around the streets of Portugal, befitting the country’s concept of saudade. They’re contemporary, conceptual and cosmic, otherworldly presences that seem at odds with their urban environment - almost like they should be viewed accompanied by a rainy day hip-hop loop from YouTube.
There’s a strong sense of atmosphere in her works. They’re infused with a great deal of autobiographical thought that she uses to try to rouse us, her audience, from a slumber. Numbed by pings, likes and endless consumption, we are becoming human in the shape of each other, defined by what the outside world sees, conforming to what is and isn’t socially acceptable. Alves doesn’t want this performative type of humanity, she wants the rawness innate to us all - the kind that makes us individuals.
In many ways, though, it’s almost impossible to escape this idea of the public versus the private - what the world sees of an individual against what they experience. Alves is an artist, linked, yet also removed, from her art. However, her art appears as an external manifestation of the many thoughts one might face in day to day life - doubt, fear, alienation. There is a point at which the two cross, but they don't always shake hands, just pass by without paying attention to the other.
Although her works - from watercolour paintings to murals - require a lot of thought and deft execution, they’re almost like a subliminal process that bubbles away, coming out on the wall as an instinct more than a planned product. Because of that, nothing is ever perfect. That would miss the point completely. Perfectionism is the pursuit of something very conscious, which would detract from the value of the roughness and expressionistic feeling that all of Alves’ work showcases.
Whatever the subject appears to be, it is painted with emotion, honestly and wholly, a process that has developed and come to fruition in many disciplines, from music to literature - and now in Alves' art. It’s allowing your hand to move and your heart to dictate. Never being in search of The Truth, but your own individual one and fully embracing the person that's forged in the process.
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