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Luís Bastos: “Awaking the mind is the main role of the artist in the modern world”

Updated: Mar 24, 2023

Luís Bastos the artist from Portugal who, through abstract art, discovered a way to connect with the absolute source of all existence. Louis believes that every person has art inside, and proves this through his own experience. The artist was able to awake himself to the source of creativity, which for 40 years was within himself dormant.

How does abstract expressionism give Luís Bastos the possibility to wander between material and spiritual worlds? How to use knowledge of psychology to make someone vibrate and evoke different emotions in the viewers? Moreover, how to practically be an artist and live with art via collaborating with online galleries, read this and more in a very deep conversation with the artist.

Luís Bastos

Yuliana Arles: You, as a self-taught artist, started your career relatively recently. How did you awaken a long dormant artist in yourself? Can you tell us about the beginning of your artistic path?

Luís Bastos: First, thank you so much for inviting me, Yuliana. I am on this journey living a particularly beautiful, interesting and at the same time, challenging moment breaking some of the preconceived and limiting ideas that I had and that lived in me in permanent conflict and in a counter cycle. And just as certain emotional events can negatively alter our lives forever, they can also do so in a liberating, unblocking sense. Every human being has art inside them, for some to access this form of expression may be easier than others, for me, it has always been easy.

As a form of affirmation and professional achievement, I will say that what I found in my artistic activity allows me today to be more calm, awake, more aware of myself, which in a therapeutic way it gave me the possibility to rescue myself from my essence this capacity/need that makes me feel free and balanced, and that helps me to listen to the silences that come from reflection and contemplation, thus making me a better man.

Yuliana Arles: Your work is a vehicle for expressing your feelings and emotions. Tracing the development of your artistic career, you can see that of all the techniques in painting, you assign a special role to abstract expressionism. Why did you choose the language of abstract forms to convey your inner world on the canvas?

Luís Bastos: Well, first, I want to explain a little bit about the way I observe and reflect on my existence. When I try to put myself in perspective on the most diverse themes, I always find it difficult to choose a single, concrete, and precise clarification. I observe in myself a constant duality in my analysis, which is inherent and sometimes complicates any process of choice, but which awakens this intrinsic curiosity to know more.

Unable to attribute the concept of absolute or solely good or bad to something, life, or death, black or white, abstract, or concrete, gloss or opaque, I conclude that nothing exists without its opposite, in a constant balance, chaos and order are in one a whole being. It is a somewhat ambiguous way of being in the world, but that is the way I am, and the maxim “know thyself” has never been more appropriate than in the times we live in.

I am a Pisces, and my favorite symbol is the Yin/Yang, so the energetic charge that these two symbols carry is a prerogative of everything I said above, so abstract expressionism gives me the possibility to wander between worlds, or that is, between truths and their opposite, between the material and the spiritual, while I build my artwork.

There is a natural biological correspondence, almost as if it were a physiological need that arises at certain times and has emotions as a particular source, emotions that many of them are memories of events, some that may even be dormant in my unconscious and that in a cathartic way emerge.

A catalyst that is always present is music, and that somehow facilitates my access to this creative stage that produces an ignition in the soul that culminates in gestural, impulsive, intuitive, perhaps even primordial, primitive art. It is precisely in these moments that I feel aligned with the essence of life. It is something special and unique. These are the calls; these needs that for about 40 years I was not predisposed to feel.

Yuliana Arles: Oh, it is a very interesting perspective. Furthermore, in your artwork, you are not afraid to experiment with the color and use all of its possibilities. Bright explosive colors or dark melancholic tones. How does the process of choosing a style, technique and color scheme appear for the next painting? Do you pre-comprehend the concept of the future artwork, or do you act spontaneously?

Luís Bastos: This question is remarkably interesting, but in a simple but never linear way I would say that 20% is in advance a mental projection, 80% is pure creative energy. In the beginning there is an emptiness and so that everything is balanced an emptiness cannot exist alone, the perception of emptiness is only possible if content is present, they are Siamese concepts, born of the individual and of all its complexity.

In my activity, the content, in this case, the artistic one, is expressed mostly in gestural, informal art and as being extremely emotional and intuitive, it is quite natural that my art reflects my personality and my way of being in the world.

Yuliana Arles: Your paintings also are characterized by a variation of techniques and manner of execution. Has artwork of certain artists influenced the development of your art?

Luís Bastos: Undoubtedly Yuliana, I am not immune to my surroundings, and I am constantly influenced, and it is good that it is so, it is enriching. As it is obvious in my work, I am a fan of Action Painting, in particular the dripping technique largely spread by Jackson Pollock, of which I am a great admirer. But essentially, I work from the inside and rarely try to recreate reality or how I see it and as the focus is often emotion it is also natural that the themes are also very personal, it may even seem self-centred, or selfish, but that is how it is.

In terms of development and particularly in my art, I think that because I am self-taught and have not had much training beyond basic visual arts and a special taste for experimenting, I have been able to choose without major formats in the creative process, given that the whole of my professional career has given me an enormous amount of experience in the transformation of raw materials.

Yuliana Arles: The painting "Let's dance" is distinguished by brightness and eccentricity, as well the distortion of the form emphasizes its emotional expressiveness. Sharp, clear lines indicate the confidence of the artist's hand. In your opinion, how much time do you need to devote to art in order to develop a firmness of hand?

Luís Bastos - Let's Dance
Luís Bastos - Let's Dance

Luís Bastos: It is a beautiful piece, and it is a more technical question, no doubt that practice makes us more precise and knowledgeable, but I believe that knowledge is within reach of any human being and that we are still learning/developing these skills that will allow us to act more easily in accessing the wisdom of the collective unconscious.

A natural aesthetic sensibility and a certain “golden proportion” in the “eye” we are equipped with, are what differentiate us from other people, what makes us unique.

There are two activities that can regenerate new brain cells, new neurons, new synapses, one is physical activity the other is repetition. In the way I work, I need to be aware of the signs from the interior, the instinct, so that when inspiration comes, I'm in the studio, which in practice is 7 days a week, an artist is an artist 24 hours a day 7 days a week, he is always ready to work and always ready to evolve.

Yuliana Arles: As far as I know, you are fond of psychology. When creating your paintings, do you consider what impact they will have on the emotional perception of the viewer? Does knowledge of the psychological aspects of the human soul help to express the spectrum of certain feelings and emotions through the textures of color spots, lines and strokes?

Luís Bastos: I love psychology, it is a good question, and it makes perfect sense. If we think of art as the maximum representative expression of what it is to be Human in something concrete, static and formatted, we will be devaluing its origin, its source, that is, the provenance of what can be called artistic activity, in which all of it is always a fantasy in its essence. Because everything that exists and that is conscious was unconscious beforehand, it is born in the world of ideas, but it is rather an emotion, something that makes us feel before thinking.

Let us reflect on a live performing art, where the moment for contemplation does not exist, and it is evident that emotions are the ignition, the root, the nourishment for the show and for the performance. But these same emotions come from the unconscious.

Now for a lot of people it's hard to accept that we have an unconscious part of us that makes many decisions and exerts a great manipulative power in our lives, but when we accept and try to understand why this happens, we become safer and more balanced decision makers.

Luís Bastos Art Studio
Luís Bastos Art Studio

Yes, my interest and knowledge about these psychological aspects is what allows me to try to express to the viewer/observer, love, anger, anguish, despair, joy, ecstasy, etc...

Let us suppose that I want to momentarily create a reaction of disgust in the viewer to lead the gaze to another golden point. I could use an opposite color combination, for example a green with a violet and by doing that I am conditioning the viewer to look at other interesting points on the canvas. But still I might want to tell something using this repulsion factor, it could be something that goes from repulsion in one place to another more harmonious.

So this knowledge is very important but mainly there has to be an aesthetic sensibility that allows the balance between emotional expression and the duty to present a decorative piece that has commercial value and that obviously satisfies and awakens emotions in those who observes.

Yuliana Arles: In your estimation, what is the main role of an artist in the modern world? Do you, as an artist, have a specific mission?

Luís Bastos: Well, let us imagine for a moment that we all live on an island, all professions, and activities. The artist would be on the edge in search of the unknown, trying to catch a glimpse of something that does not exist and thus bringing knowledge to the center of the island.

I do not believe there is a specific role for an artist, but I believe that each artist ends up having several roles within society. Functions like awakening the mind. In my specific case, each of my paintings tells a story, of something I felt and mirrored there, in the colors and in all the energy I deposited there during the process. And in each sui generis interpretation, there is the possibility that various mechanisms are awakened in the observer, among them the one to exorcise internal ghosts, to glimpse the light again, and to clearly see something that previously seemed cloudy.

I have the presumption of making someone vibrate in the observation and contemplation of my canvases, as I feel when I am doing them.

Yuliana Arles: What are you working on now? Will the audience be able to see your artwork at any exhibitions in the near future?

Luís Bastos: In my studio, there are many pieces completed, but also many to be completed. I believe that each canvas has its own time, and sometimes they need to breathe, time to look at them in another way, with another perspective. Due to some demand for my best-selling series, the Synapse series, I created a new work that is currently only for sale to my private collectors. I have another started with 160*200 cm also from the Synapse series, an abstract expressionism with 160*200 cm, that is incredibly happy and fun, and others that will be finished with time.

Luís Bastos - I love you Mom
Luís Bastos - I love you Mom

Due to the pandemic, many exhibitions were cancelled and although there are some contacts for future exhibitions, we do not have anything formalized yet. I also highlight a fact that greatly conditioned my agenda, which was my mother's prolonged illness and death in May 2021.

Yuliana Arles: Your paintings have already been bought by art lovers from different countries, such as the USA, Canada, Germany, Austria, Spain, Switzerland, Australia, Italy, etc. You also cooperate with various online galleries such as Singulart. Can you share your experience of cooperation with online galleries? What kind of support can an artist expect from such collaboration?

Luís Bastos: It is true Yuliana, the online market has changed the way we are in the world and some physical galleries had problems, some adapted better, others not so much Others saw it as a business opportunity, in a market niche with several lesser-known artists and collectors willing to see alternative artworks.

In particular, Singulart with whom I have had the privilege and pleasure of collaborating. In terms of support, they are fantastic, very dynamic, very original, and I think this is even the company's asset, they make a difference.

Yuliana Arles: Well said, an individual attitude towards artists is a great advantage in the art business. Let me ask the last question. What a piece of advice could you give to aspiring artists and people who are still only dreaming of connecting their lives with art?

Luís Bastos: There are many creative beings who simply have not found the opportunity to be able to believe that it is possible. Fortunately for me, there was still time to rescue this capacity/need to create, but I had to confront myself and realize that there is no other way, no other life to be an artist and make a living from art.

Resilience is an important factor, perseverance, and self-belief, because probably there will be not so good times, with no sales, with uncertainties that arise when we create demons and undermine our thinking, however the fact of doing something that I love and that I need to do, overcomes everything, and gives me the strength to continue. But realize that, even in those “not so good” times, you can continue to sow, innovate, and continue to create.



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