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Posted by portugalpress on April 17, 2017

Atelier dos Cavaletes is the culmination of the life’s work of German painter, Tom Bund

Some painters have a well-defined style, which they use to portray a wide choice of subjects. German painter Tom Bund says he too has many subjects, but no specific style. His canvases never follow the same beat: some are big, others are small, some are colourful, others a mass of black and white lines, some are unadorned, others are covered in plaster and then painted over with charcoal. As he explains, his work is a sheer reflection of what he can do with his hands after developing a concept in his head: a habit that has stuck with him since his hard-working days in advertising.

More than developing a style, Tom says it is crucial for a painter to observe others and the world. This is one of the main lessons he will be teaching his students at Atelier dos Cavaletes, an art school he is opening this summer in Aljezur.

Atelier dos Cavaletes will cater for children between the ages of six and 16, as well as adults: “[Teaching] it’s something I love to do. The drawing process starts with observation. We all know how to draw, it’s a matter of using our hands.

With children, I ask them to draw ‘bichos’ (animals) at a large scale, like a fly, for example, and we go from there. With grown-ups, they need to learn a little bit about perspective: how it works, how it affects round shapes. Practice makes perfect – I can only take them so far,” notes the painter, who currently splits his time between the Algarve and his cosy home and studio in the Sintra hills.

Tom comes from a talented family of artists: his father was a draughtsman, signwriter and watercolourist who at some point made a living replicating paintings by Rembrandt and Vermeer, while his uncles were musicians and composers.
With such an inspiring background, he was unsurprisingly drawn to music and art from an early age: “I can’t remember not drawing,” he says.

His love affair with art involved becoming a musician and playing tuba in a band, but his career began at the tender age of 14, when he became a sign painter. He eventually enrolled in university in Berlin, studying foundation drawing and fine arts, graphic design, typography, photography and also film making.

From then on, he carved a successful career in advertising, working in many places around the world. Portugal was one of those places and Tom moved to the country in 1979 to open an advertising agency in Lisbon. His first visit to the Algarve was in the 1980s, when he was invited to be part of the jury at the Portimão Short Film Festival.

But, in spite of his success as a creative director, Tom never stopped drawing and painting on the side, as well as teaching others to do so. One of the reasons why he ended up buying a house in the south of the country, more precisely in Silves, was the fact that his art “sold really well in the Algarve”. He has exhibited his work all across the region, as well as internationally in countries like Dubai, Germany, Brussels and the UK.

Always inspired by his daily observations – he claims he loves to watch people mingling or simply talking or eating – a big part of Tom’s work is influenced by the Portuguese way of living.

From portraits of pensioners in local cafes to traditional folk dancers, his work is embedded in the quaint aspects of the Portuguese day to day life.

Another of his themes is, of course, jazz – one of his biggest passions. His style, as mentioned before, is inexistent, as he works with a wide range of media to showcase his message and incredible creativity: for example, for some of his work, Tom used simple brown paper to cover his canvas and add a new layer of texture, and lately he has been focusing on negative space, meaning the space around the objects.

However, no matter how different his pieces can be, they all have one thing in common – a story behind them: “I cannot just paint a pretty picture; what I like is the story behind it. I can’t paint abstract paintings because of this: I need a story,” he explains.

A multitasker, who often paints multiple canvases at the same time, Tom is also a fast painter, taking between four to five hours to finish a canvas. While he has not had an exhibit at a gallery for about three years, he often shows and sells his work at a friend’s restaurant, on special foodie evenings, in Azóia, Sintra. He also takes commissions for portraits and is an avid user of Facebook to promote and sell his work.

His move to Aljezur this summer, where he is currently building a home and his art school, is the culmination of a life’s work and of what Tom enjoys the most: painting and teaching.

Maybe this is why, when asked about his expectations for the project, his answer is as concise as striking: “To have a great time.” For someone who has been doing it his whole life, it couldn’t be about anything else.