Desenho Cru – Raw sketching

tavern, mustard, mayonnaise, chili sauce, beer, art, studio, mirror

In 2012, Desenho Cru was created as a one-night monthly gathering of artists and performers, in the unusual stage of a gay bar in the heart of Lisboa. It was actually named after the bar. The drill is simple: the performers perform, and the artists sketch them. Creative spirits in both sides of the (imaginary) fence are free to deliver their own art in whatever form they feel is best.

Veronique, performer, performance, Desenho Cru, model, mirror

Now, the Desenho Cru sessions are held in a small studio in Martim Moniz, another heart of Lisboa – the multi-hearted city. I attended my first Desenho cru in the beginning of february, weeks after coming back to Lisboa. It’s a fantastic group experience, where concentration levels are high, but everything feels somewhat different from a regular sketch meeting.

Veronique, performer, performance, Desenho Cru, model, mirror

The intimacy of the moment is enhanced firstly by the narrowness of the space, where fifteen to twenty people elbowed each other for some arm movement space. If more were to come, they would have to sit on the floor.

Veronique, performer, performance, Desenho Cru, model, mirror, José Gomez, guitar, music

Secondly by the unusual nature of the performances – and those are entirely dependent on the performers themselves – it’s an artistic lottery. You get what they bring for you. First-time performer Veronique, tense at first, on account of the thirty-something eyeballs on her, finally let herself and some garments go, and played around with postures and the mirror she had leaned up against the wall. I’d say she managed quite well.

Desenho Cru, mirror, José Gomez, guitar, music

The andalucian José Gomez brought his guitar and some electronic equipment that, for some reason, started to fail him right in the middle of his act. The gadget recorded a sample that he would play, and then it would playback on a loop, while he added some more samples to the texture of the song. A one man band, fretted unfortunately by faulty equipment.

Poland sketches #2 Food in Warszawa

Pork, food, Pod Samson, Poland, Warsawa, beer
Pork! It’s pork!

Excerpt of my text in Diários de Viagem 2 (Travelling journals 2) freely translated from the original Portuguese:

“Sketching allows for different scales, compositions, assembling of notes and thoughts. And above all, maybe the feature that pleases me the most, it’s a pretext to sit and take a breath, watching, interpreting for a while, everything that goes around. Might be a problem while travelling in groups: “Isn’t it ready yet?” one might hear eventually, resulting in us being forced to keep on moving with an open sketchbook in our hands, waterwashes still wet (it’s a time-consuming chemical process, the evaporation of the water, especially in near-zero temperatures).”

Pork, food, Pod Samson, Poland, Warsawa, beer
More pork.
hot chocolate, chocolate, Wedel, breakfast, croissant, bread, honey, jam, butter
E. Wedel, a century-old chocolate maker of Warsawa serves richly-flavoured breakfasts in a proper victorian atmosphere.

 

 

Poland sketches #1 Train to Warszawa

train, Katowice, Warsawa, Poland, travel, traveller
Compartment carriages are the best!

Excerpt of my text in Diários de Viagem 2 (Travelling journals 2) freely translated from the original Portuguese:

“It was pretty early that, in my mind, the act of travelling was coupled with that of sketching, at least since I had the habit of reading and re-reading my father’s decades-old copies of Corto Maltese graphic novels. When they started publishing them again a few years ago, they included a few dazzling watercolors of the romantic soldier of fortune, set in exotic atmospheres and locations. It further spurred my will to travel and sketch, to record in line and color that which I see, taste, smell, hear and feel, the people that I meet, or that I don’t meet, but for one reason or another, compelled the pen to scratch the paper of yet another page of a sketchbook.

Travelling and sketching are two of my favorite activities. The first, fed by the mystery of the unknown and the curiosity that the other awakens, drives me to walk the globe, finding similarities and oddities, the different aspects of the human experience, that help me build a mosaic, an idea of what in the world are we doing here.

The second takes care of recording what I feel about all the things I come across while travelling. Sketching is an interface with the outside world and that which results from distilling the I and the other together. Maybe the second is the answer to the big question of the first: to find our own way of merging with the world.

A few days trip to Poland doesn’t seem to fit next to the esoteric and romantic wanderings of the sailor, and it’s certainly not the key to the secrets of the human experience, but I think that even in the shortest trips or the least exotic locations, sketching serves the purpose of interpreting and assembling tiny bits of wisdom and knowledge to the pool of oddities and patterns that makes us unique.

Further on, for more prosaic matters: sketching while travelling is a fine way of filling 3 hours of railroad travelling. It’s a better ice-breaker than wódka. It’s an excellent long exposure camera, capturing all the things that are happening around the sketcher, with more clarity and verve than a camera (or a cell phone for that matter).”

train, Katowice, Warsawa, Poland, travel, traveller
Cheap beer and wódka welcomes travellers to Warsawa late night. Pijalnia is a franchise of polish wódka bars that doesn’t feel like a franchise.

 

Classical ballet

The awesome cooperation between Urban Sketchers Portugal and the Dance School of the Conservatory (EDCN) allows for sketchers to attend some of the classes and doodle the classical ballet and contemporary dance students in action.

ballet, EDCN, dance, classic, dance school, class, students, Conservatory

Taking advantage of this very intimate hours of these youngsters feels very weird at first – like an invasion of a private moment and space. But soon after the concentration levels are high, everyone just minds their own business and focus on what they love best – the students, the sketchers, the dance teacher, even the pianist who’s setting the tune for the whole act.

ballet, EDCN, dance, classic, dance school, class, students, Conservatory

It’s an extraordinary weekly opportunity for sketchers to grasp the shape and movement of bodies in their finest moment. Although it is very challenging at first, the exercise pays off in the end. It’s also an excellent visual memory stimulant, to save in the mind’s eye a single pose, or a single movement in the myriad of elegant steps and twirls these students undertake for the three hours of the duration of the class.

Windowsketching in Elvas

sketching, exhibition, Elvas, UNESCO, shop, window

Elvas, the archetypal Portuguese border town, was the stage of an Urban Sketchers Portugal meeting in the spring of 2013. Soon after, it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

sketching, exhibition, Elvas, UNESCO, shop, window

Although, a very important city and military outpost in days long gone, and despite the recent UNESCO status attribution, Elvas is still subject to the desertification process that haunts the country’s inland regions. As such, lots of stores are closed, abandoned, covered up in newspaper, waiting for better times.

AIAR is a regional Association that confronts these challenges head-on, using the rich local culture and capitalizing on the UNESCO status. They had a simple but effective and innovative idea: to use the hundreds of sketches produced by the dozens of sketchers in those busy days of the meeting, to decorate the streets of Elvas, using the windows of the closed down shops as frames. The widened sketches now give a purpose to the deserted façades, and convey a sense of hope in that the less sketches there are on the streets, the more lively commerce will be.

sketching, exhibition, Elvas, UNESCO, shop, window

I didn’t attend the meeting in 2013, but I had the opportunity to contribute to the street exhibition with a sketch made this summer. Christmas in Elvas became a little sketchier thanks to AIAR.

(Catch up on the whole story here)

Thank you Patrícia Canastreiro for the photos!