This week we met up with Lisbon-based contemporary artist Margarida Fleming in her studio to discuss all things art, Lisbon and life. The self-taught oil painter from small town Portugal creates breath-taking portraiture, all containing one common focal point, the eyes. 'The eyes are the key to ones soul' said one little known playwright; and in complete concurrence, Margarida's work captivates us by creating soulful characters through layered brush strokes. We sat in her studio and chatted about the art scene in Portugal while shooting some pieces from the Summer 18 collection...
Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like? I was born in a small town that is know for it's thermal hot springs, S. Pedro do Sul in the north central part of Portugal. It was there I learnt how to paint at home, I taught myself through experimenting with different techniques. I've had a strong relationship with art since I was a child, I was always very passionate about creating and exploring different artistic techniques.
Your work frequently features the feminine face, can you tell us why this is such a strong theme in your paintings? The faces I paint are very unique with varied themes; some are more strong and confident, others are sad and fragile. However, they all have one commonality which is the mysterious realism seen within their eyes. I try to convey a life-like interpretation of their souls through an unspoken expression. I believe women have sensible and harmonious physiognomy and I paint their faces to portray their different personalities and strong characters, all represented within their eyes. The women I paint also have many attributing elements that complete the complex image, such as their hair, clothing, jewelry and poses etc.
What do you consider your biggest achievement thus far, personal or career wise? I would have to say my biggest achievements have been the encouraging praise I've received from my peers. I've also been humbled by the recognition I've seen at various exhibitions as well as the positive reactions and feedback from noteworthy people within the field.
Is there any social issue (in your industry or otherwise) you wish was more talked about and could change? Art in Portugal has become increasingly valued and I've seen an increase in many new artists launching their careers. I'm excited to witness more and more art events, initiatives and cooperative works. I'm beginning to see the younger generation has increased their interest in art, however, I believe Portugal does not yet have the purchasing power compared to other European countries to support a thriving art industry. I'd love to see more internal support from the state to foster young artists and ensure our country continues to develop it's creative backbone. Although we have a very rich culture, but we still aren't financially thriving, and we need to ensure we promote and prosper the countries artists.
You mentioned you started studying to become an architect, is there any other career path you were tempted by if you didn't pursue design and art?
I think I would always have been involved in some sort of creative field or another. Architecture, Graphic Design and Art, are all areas within my interest.
What do you wish to see happen in the next 5 years? For me I only wish to follow my natural intuitions. In the next 5 years, I will be taking pleasure in my creations, learning and exploring new things everyday.
Who has been the biggest influence on you in your life so far - positive or negative? My biggest influence in my life would for sure be my mum. However, in my art, I would have to say my biggest influences would be: expressionist artist Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, and a few modern artists such as Andy Dixon; Matthew Stone, Loribelle Spirovski and Glenn Brown.