A few days ago, we connected with Portuguese painter and architect Luís Miguel Teodoro Vitorino, who prefers to be called M.V. Salvador.
M.V. Salvador's paintings astounded us. His paintings and colored sketches are incredibly detailed, almost to the point of illuminating the microscopic. Every work of art of his is colored with passion, and set apart by his unique vision and perspective.
There is the revered Virgen del Rocío portrayed in two different ways; one is its brilliant and bright magnificence, and the other in equally reverential and detailed black and white:
Then there is M.V. Salvador's poignant take on award-winning photojournalist Muhammed Muheisen's UNICEF Photo of the Year from 2017. If one were to look at the original prize-winning photo, and compare it with M.V. Salvador's take, one would notice the heartfelt manner in which M.V. Salvador has captured the emotions behind the photograph and truly brought the struggle of the child (even more) to the forefront. M.V. Salvador does this in a way that can not be ignored, or merely seen in passing.
Then there is this black-ink portrait of a woman. We love how he brought the entirety of the woman to life by embedding flowers and patterns all over her clothes, and even across her face, in such a beautiful, but real manner. It is as if she is Mother Nature herself:
While M.V. Salvador creates and infuses his works with beauty, he is also clearly not someone to see the world, people or situations through a rose-tinted lens. He presents a strong understanding of reality, with all its shades. He captures struggles, and emotions of all hues, with enormous empathy for his subjects. He sees the beautiful sun, and sunflowers, but he also sees the pain of living; and he captures it all side by side on the same canvases.
Take a look, for instance, at these drawings and paintings of flowers. In all of these, one can see the pleasure and beauty of seeing a flower (that too, flowers that famously always points to the Sun, the source of all light.) At the same time, we see mature moods and environments coloring the atmosphere in which the flowers are present. We also see the flowers being captured from unique angles, like from the bottom by the stalks, looking up at the Sun with the flowers. In one of the drawings, M.V. Salvador also seems to "turn up the heat" and makes a beautiful summer's day with sunflowers look even warmer, to the point of (perhaps) looking very hot. It is through his unique portrayal of the environment, and the way he colors his subjects, that M.V. Salvador reveals complex moods and atmospheres; as well as complex experiences of seemingly small, fragile, youthful, fleeting, grand and memorable impressions of life.
Finally, we also see stunning abstract art. Each of the works of art below look as if they have come to us from a different world. We also note a special connection of his art with trees. In fact, every work of art of M.V. Salvador has deep, unshakable earthiness; almost as if they have been carved from wood. There is beautiful detail with extensive use of whorls, and general interconnectedness between components that are depicted. His art also gives off the feeling that if we ever saw inside a tree, we might find one of M.V Salvador's works of art.
When we first connected with him, he shared with us something personal: he had lost his baby at only 30 days. He told us that ever since that heartbreaking episode, he had decided to sign every work of art of his by his baby's name: Salvador.
But as we all know, to understand a person, one must see them in different lights, and hear their story, as much as possible, from their own words.
Here is an attempt by Lakshmi Art Press to learn about the journey of incredible architect and painter M.V. Salvador through a written interview.
Lakshmi Art Press: Could you please tell us a little about your childhood and early experiences? Where did you grow up?
M.V. Salvador: I was born in Lisbon, Portugal, on February 18, 1970. As my father was in the Portuguese Navy, my life until about six years of age was in the Alfeite Navy Base, inside a house surrounded by the forest and close to the Tagus River by its S margin.
Forest, to me, means silence; a peaceful space for solitude that ultimately gave me curiosity, discovery, and a lust for understanding my surroundings. Under those trees I discovered texture, brightness, reflexes, shadows, light, density; all of which I could then employ for a wide range of creative expressions. All of this directed me to the essential base of everything: matter and shapes. The trees also greatly captivated me with their natural, biological characteristics, and it is from studying those trees that I can now emphasize roots, smell, and resin in my art. It was over a cloak of shamrocks and a light ceiling of shrubs that I first mapped my emotions aesthetically with the use of colours, geometry, and perspective.
Some emotions seem “lost” in that long gone childhood; to which I go again and again, through art, in a continuous search for the recovery of that sense of peace and fulfilment. From that time, I do remember moulding pine tree pieces, their needles, leaves and resin. This being said, art has been a part of my life since as far back as I can remember.
Lakshmi Art Press: Could you tell us about your journey as an artist? How did you get interested in art?
M.V. Salvador: I consider this as a crucial mark in my connection with art: the fact that when I was seven years old, my family moved into an urban realm that gave me the opportunity to start my musical studies; the piano. It had a tremendous impact on me. Later, at 10 years old, I also entered a military college as an intern student, where I further developed my music abilities by joining the local orchestra and getting introduced to a multitude of activities from fencing and taekwondo to rowing and horse riding.
I do associate this period of my life with my first consciousness of the eternal. It was the first time when I considered the meaning of life, e.g. who we are and where we go. I started to form an early perception of "balance", both in nature and in deed. The “wisdom” of my surroundings and the experiences that I lived back then were the bricks of a person that I, although unaware, was indeed building.
With my introduction to Philosophy, Chemistry and Physics, I started to think or believe in an imaginary “balance of all balances” in which everything was unchanged, unstoppable, and leading to infinity – the perfect and the apotheotic state of peace with no time or space since there were no phenomena to be measured nor quantified. For many years, and in fact even today, science seemed to me the most natural and obvious way to explain everything.
My understanding of life changed completely when I found the “balance of all unbalances." I decided to imagine life as a piece removed from perfection, making the word "perfection" lose its meaning, and stopped the association of this word with balance, since it almost always implied downfall or an inability to appreciate life as it is. This interpretation allowed me to include, in a single spatial perception, all laws of Physics, all mathematic theorems, all religions and faiths and all forms of art around a single and superb universe of fulfilment.
All of the above made me someone of artistic sensibility. Inspired by the conductor of juvenile orchestra from college, I wanted to apply to the National Music Conservatoire and thought about it as a future profession when I was 13. However, this wish was denied to me because back then there was a prejudice against such professions as compared to military careers; the latter also being the path that my parents wanted me to take. That imposition caused so much frustration in me that I immediately abandoned music for more than thirty years and only returned as an adult. But without the possibilities of a younger student. Today, I play long, slow and never repeatable musical phrases, mainly on the piano, most of which arise from my “mechanical” memories rather than from any additional technical training.
Lakshmi Art Press: How would you explain your current artistic style when it comes to impressionist painting?
M.V. Salvador: My graduation in Architecture, a decision that I made later on, was a bit of an escape from a military career to a profession that allowed for art as well as for practical considerations to be taken care of. However, the knowledge and drawing techniques that I learnt gave me many tools for art, which I still apply to my paintings today. My style is a natural outcome of formal training and background as an architect because it really enables me to deal with the creativity and artistic freedom in its most elementary essence. What I lack in terms of a formal beaux-arts’ education is compensated for by the vast sense of freedom that I feel when in front of a white canvas. It is also obvious that this implies a permanent concept renewal, long observation, and reflective periods, and lots of hard work.
Gallery: M.V. Salvador's architectural projects.
Lakshmi Art Press: What would you say are the challenges of being a person who practices art? Do you think that there is something in artists which makes them unique?
M.V. Salvador: Art in itself is a permanent challenge. I would say that for an artist, one should be coherent with each approach and the way in which each “message” is framed while, at the same time, staying true to their identity without betraying an essential leitmotif: the pursuit of beauty. In this search, and apart from all the weight of conceptual and technical importance, when I am painting, I do feel that I am creating something that “claims” to be revealed. In this sense, painting, for me, is a way of projecting sensations from the inside out. However those sensations are also in a constant struggle, and often in opposition, with my creations as they develop.
Lakshmi Art Press: Is there something in artists that makes them unique?
M.V. Salvador: Those who cannot feel wonderment will not enter this realm. An artist must follow and search for the strange, and the beauty that lies behind it. The artist is someone who wishes to actually see the “object” before it is shown. To guess and imagine without the obviousness of a fact, to express into creation – and therefore share it with those who see – something that only existed in their mind. The altruism of art lies in this simple fact: share with others something that is absolutely unique before being transposed into any kind of support.
Lakshmi Art Press: Who are your major influences as an architect, painter and a person?
M.V. Salvador: Naturally, I gather influences from many sources and personalities, however, if I had to select one person for each category, I definitely would choose Yves Le Corbusier as a supreme architect, Vincent van Gogh and Paula Rego are two of my most important painters and Nelson Mandela as someone unique in history and certainly a personality that helped to shape a better world.
Lakshmi Art Press: Whose works do you admire the most? What inspires you?
M.V. Salvador: Whenever I visit the Musée d’Orsay I find it harder and harder to name a single piece. When surrounded by so much beauty any choice would be unfair. I am always inspired by life…
Lakshmi Art Press: You shared with us the touching story of your baby, Salvador, and we are truly sorry for your loss. First of all, how are you? Secondly, do you have a message for others who may be grieving? How have you been coping? And how has it changed the way you view your work, or art?
M.V. Salvador: Because we have been talking about painting, all that I am able to say at the moment is that the name Salvador, with which I sign all my works, is a tribute to his brief passage through this life. It is my attempt to spread his name and let it be known. I am not a mystical person. However, I do believe that this allows him to see through my eyes, to feel through my heart, and to create and fulfil himself through my hands and my colours.
Lakshmi Art Press: What do you look forward to as an artist?
M.V. Salvador: What I will do is whatever I long to do and wish for. I will continue to improve and surprise myself through my own paintings. And I do hope that my paintings shall be discovered and “lived” by as many people as possible.
To see more of Mr. Salvador's paintings, please see his Instagram profile: