Cecilia Ferreira was born in 1978 in South Africa. At the time, neither she nor the country realized they were destined for crisis. The artist classifies herself as a contradiction, a self-inflicted dilemma and an introverted exhibitionist. She started drawing when she was very young. With her parents as constant stimuli, she pursued her art intensely and by the time she was in high school her art became her lifestyle.
The artist found herself growing up in a conservative society in a racial crisis, and the confusion of these times reflected in her rebellious nature. High-school activist against racism and fighting for freedom of speech in her school, Ferreira found release for an unstable adolescence through her art. She was always at the top of her art class, even though her other grades were low and her reaction towards learning disinterested.
Her cartoonist father and musical mother always encouraged her to pursue an art career, and ended up paying for her tertiary studies. Ferreira’s versatility and her need to explore many themes and techniques left her more interested in experimentalism than in academism. As a fine art student, she constantly felt misunderstood by her lecturers, who tried to label her art for academic purposes. Her influences during her study-years were the German Expressionists. The subject matter of Otto Dix and the colours of Max Beckman was what she strived for. In her final year of study she leaned towards De Kooning’s rage full brush strokes.
Despite the disputes and not seeing eye to eye with her teachers, she managed to complete her studies in 2000, majoring in Printmaking and Painting and achieving a distinction in Figure Drawing. She participated in numerous collective exhibitions in her home town before she decided to leave a close knitted network of friends and family behind and moved to Portugal with her husband in 2001.
The step out of her comfort zone to a foreign place led to a deep introversion and her art started taking an even darker route. Her fascination with Lisbon city led to many drawings, which she started selling in the streets to tourists. She used her talent for caricatures by doing funny portraits of tourists in the streets of Cascais. Her first participation in a collective exhibition was in Galeria Passe Partout where she exhibited six large oil paintings with the theme ‘Lisbon People’. On the side she was a chalk board artist and poster artist for restaurants. She also wrote and illustrated two children’s books.
Fed up and angry with the slow moving nature of the art world in terms of climbing your way to the top, without an important contact or without money to fund your own exhibitions, she started discovering the internet. Finally she could show her work to the public without the bureaucracy of street galleries and curators. Using the Internet as means to have exhibitions on line, her work can be viewed on numerous sites and on her own blogs of digital photography. This new focus also led her to work with digital means instead of traditional fine art methods.
Lately, Ferreira has been obsessively taking photographs. Her favourite themes are the streets of Lisbon and the human figure. Having little scope for models, she started exploring her own figure as a subject. Her amateur digital photography is still kept on a ‘fine art level’, with very little alteration on the computer or obvious alterations. The artist likes using the computer as an expressive tool just like she would use a brush or pencil. She sees herself as a “digital art brutist”, not having any formal training in photography. She plans to have a solo exhibition soon.
“One has to say yes to humanity just as it is”-Otto Dix
My art has always begun with people. I see people as characters; all people are noticeable to me. Everybody plays a role: his or her identity demands it. I choose to observe people quietly as if I am the audience and they are all on stage. The less attention on me, the more I can openly stare at humans and take in all the aspects about their persona to create subjective portraits in my mind.
I view the human race as animals and I try to uncover the veil made out of social rules and civilization in order to see the raw human nature underneath. Humans are made out of raw emotion; we are just covered up by frills such as manners and socially correct behaviour.
I find unconventional beauty fascinating. I find the absurd and the bizarre beautiful. People are constantly exposing their real nature through body language and expressions, without them even realizing it. Body Language is noisier than one thinks. People do not always realize how much they reveal by simply sitting, walking or talking in a specific way. It is there and then when I need to be present as an artist, when the truth is revealed, when I can see the neuroses and fears in people that lie in us all.
My art does not bind itself to only one style and limited techniques. I am an experimentalist by nature. I work in any medium in any style. Just like the world, my art has many facets. I like to portray the darker side of life, since it is in the shadows where people tend to be themselves. Spot-light-beauty bores me, though I find it slightly funny.
Conventional beauty is unnoticeable to me and I search for beauty in boldness, distortion or comical features. Reality and my imagination feed off one another constantly and therefore I find my inspiration in life and then process it in my mind to create the images I do. My subjective feeling toward reality distorts it to such an extent that it feels unreal, whereas my imagination is based on so many borrowed visuals from reality, it seems real.
I am an expressionist. I cannot create a work of art without brutally expressing and releasing my own emotional baggage in the process. Like the German expressionist I use bold line and colours and I believe that art should not only depict the seen world but should also convey my emotional reactions towards it. I believe I can make my own, subjective statements about humanity by the exaggeration of form and colour and by depicting figures in an honest manner. By ‘honest' I do not mean depicting them physically correct or by portraying them realistically, but by revealing things about them they do not like to show. I also try and employ this method in my digital photography.
I work in an honest style, subordinating realism to expression. I use bold, vigorous brushwork. I abandon naturalism in favour of distortion and exaggerations of shape.
I like to produce slightly shocking imagery to immediately move the viewer out of a comfortable place. Humans in general do not like being confronted by their own issues and emotional flaws.