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Posted by portugalpress on August 07, 2018

Big is beautiful

Ana Archer is a Brazilian artist who was born in Linhares, in the state of Espírito Santo in Brazil, who has exhibited her work in London, New York, Houston and Brazil. As one of 10 children, Ana grew up on her father’s farm, in a time before telephone lines, electricity and tarmac roads had arrived in the region. “When I was a small girl, the wet earth was my canvas, and a sharp stick my brush. I would sketch dresses in the wet sand of the yard where we would lay out the coffee beans to dry after harvest,” Ana explained, smiling at the memory.

Ana dreamed of living in a big city as she grew up and managed to save up enough money to move to Vitória, the state capital, when she was 18 and found a job designing ball gowns for the wealthy clientele of a clothing boutique. “The owner of the shop was very kind and gave me books and art materials so that I could paint and draw in my free time,” she recalls. “It was not easy living away from my family, but after three years I had saved enough money to return home and open my own small store making and selling arts and crafts, and hand-painted T-shirts for the tourists in the summer.”

One day an Englishman walked into Ana’s shop and after mustering up the courage, he asked the pretty young artist out to dance, in his broken Portuguese. The couple dated for some time and moved to the small village of Itaúnas, where they married, built a house and raised their two children. Eventually, the family moved to Rio de Janeiro, where Ana painted alongside some of the greatest Carioca artists at Ateliê Baluarte under the guidance of Mestre Luiz Badia. The years of painting T-shirts on demand for impatient tourists with quick-drying fabric paints had set her in good stead to create canvases at an astonishingly fast rate, to the surprise of her colleagues.

It was in Rio that she experimented with different styles, from Impressionism to Pointillism, Fauvism and Modernism, always driven by the desire to express colour for its own sake.

“My inspiration has always come from my dreams,” Ana states. The artist moved to Houston with her family in 2011, following husband John’s work commitments. With two young children and a very basic knowledge of English, she struggled for a while before opening a gallery in the famous Sawyer Yards Arts District. The competition was intense, with over 70 artists competing for the attention of visiting art lovers and collectors, and it was no easy task to begin with, but soon she began to see familiar faces popping in from time to time and started selling to local and national collectors and bringing in commission work.

It was when Ana met local mover and shaker Jerry Hooker that things really started looking up. With his expertise in urban design, architecture, and interior design, the pair devised a plan where Ana would create some large pieces to dress contemporary homes that Jerry was staging for sale. “The agreement worked very well for us, as I had the opportunity to display and sell the pieces to potential buyers and Jerry had some original, bespoke art to dress the houses,” she explains. “There was one time when he directed me to a double plot to look at a new build he was getting ready to stage. I was so excited as the hallway was massive. I walked around the house, took a bunch of pictures, went home, rolled out a huge canvas and began painting, inspired by the colours, lighting and the sheer scale. The canvas came together quickly, and I took the painting to show Jerry only to find that I’d gone to the wrong house, the commission was for next door! You can only imagine how shocked I was. Luckily, the house next door very similar in style but the entrance hall was nowhere near as big and impressive as the neighbours one. Nevermind, I thought, I can fix this. I cut the painting into three and mounted it as a triptych,” she laughs. “It looked great, in the ‘new’ house.”

The Carvoeiro gallery recently opened on Rua do Barranco No 11, and sells a variety of pieces ranging from some small works that people can fit in their hand luggage to the larger pieces that she can arrange to hang for you locally or ship overseas if required. If you get the chance to pop your head in the studio at the back, you might be lucky to witness a work in progress. What she really loves though are large format pieces. Show her a big wall, and she comes alive with inspiration.