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André Carrilho

MARCH 22, 2013
Many of you are familiar with the illustrations of Lisbon's own  ANDRE CARRILHO. I've seen his caricatures in the New Yorker for the past several years. I enjoy the distortion of his figures and the way he blends standard practices of caricature (imagine a ménage à quatre between Ralph Steadman, Al Hirschfeld, Steve Brodner and Kristen Ulve) with a cool/hot helping of digital playfulness. I personally think he may be withholding his full talent or I just haven't seen enough of his work to think that this represents his full potential. However, I'm sure, in the realm of commissioned illustration, Mr. Carrilho has surprises in store yet to come.
The portrait to the left is of Billy Holiday.
Recently, when prowling flickr I was immediately attracted to these pen and brush drawings of the rooftops, also of Lisbon. What's the connection? They were done by André Carrilho.
by André Carrilho
by André Carrilho
by André Carrilho
Besides being a digital figurative illustrator, André Carrilho is also part of a worldwide semi-organized group of artists who practice "urban sketching." Moleskine notebooks in hand, they blog their work as groups and post on flickr and probably many other places. Artists organize "crawls" in different cities and do the time-honored artist practice of sketching and taking note of what's in front of their noses (and then follow this with socializing and more sketching).
Why? In André's own words: (from his flickr profile)

"I'm a professional illustrator that decided to go back to basics and try to draw without a "undo" button.

Here you'll find a selection of sketches that are:
• done mostly on location. They may be finished by memory, if the circumstances demand it, but I'll avoid as much as I can using photos as reference.
• done with techniques that make corrections or erasing difficult (ink, watercolor). What you see is what I first drew. I can add, but I can't take back."

He has used this method of working (I don't want to cheapen it and call it a "style") for a pictorial about one of the worst fishing disasters in Portuguese history.
by André Carrilho
If you go to Carrilho's flickr blog, you see that he adds work to it daily. There's just a steady stream of  images done in all manner of places: bars, concerts in the evening, city plazas and construction sites by day. There are older beautiful watercolors of exotic ports of call and rich and gritty ink drawings of the taverns before the fado singers show up. I've never been to Lisbon but this is how I imagine it somehow: posing and elusive, proud but with dirt under the fingernails. Somewhere, an old train lumbers along doing something essential yet somehow toy-like all the same.
Fernando Pessoa, arguably Portugal's poet laureate, touches on Lisbon's sultry yet acerbic gravitation and maybe hints at the way artists like André Carrilho can seamlessly pour forth work that spans obvious dichotomies:

“It is sometimes said that the four greatest Portuguese poets of modern times are Fernando Pessoa. The statement is possible since Pessoa, whose name means ‘person’ in Portuguese, had three alter egos who wrote in styles completely different from his own. In fact Pessoa wrote under dozens of names, but Alberto CaeiroRicardo Reis and Álvaro de Campos were – their creator claimed – full-fledged individuals who wrote things that he himself would never or could never write. He dubbed them ‘heteronyms’ rather than pseudonyms, since they were not false names but “other names”, belonging to distinct literary personalities. Not only were their styles different; they thought differently, they had different religious and political views, different aesthetic sensibilities, different social temperaments. And each produced a large body of poetry. Álvaro de Campos and Ricardo Reis also signed dozens of pages of prose.”  —from Goodreads

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