Art in Brazil: Sonia Madruga´s Rio de Janeiro Art in Watercolor
Authentic Brazilian Art is not something easy to find, especially when you are looking for refined esthetics and unique patterns. Art of Brazil can be very stereotyped, especially when we look into depictions of popular references like the Brazilian Carnival, the beaches, the Amazon, or other devotions. After an intense search for art from Brazil in galleries and ateliers, I was initially frustrated not see what we were looking for. Ironically, my encounter with Brazilian watercolor painter Sonia Madruga took place at after long searches in the Internet. Suddenly, I saw a watercolor from Sonia who portrayed one of the icons of the Brazilian Carnival festivity, the couple which represents a samba-school: “The Flag-Bearer and the Samba Host”. (See further down this watercolor.)
Below, Brazilian art at its height: "Yemanjá" Watercolor by Sonia Madruga, a symbol of faith, peace and syncretism.
This iconic watercolor is also available is Giclees, with an incredible presentation, see quality below in an HD video.
I was thrilled to see not only an exclusive special edition depicting the Brazilian carnival expression, but most of all, that her esthetics matched everything I was looking for in terms of colors, lines, movements and materials. Immediately I took conscience our encounter was in pure synchrony, and therefore I had a mission. I felt compelled and mesmerized to show her art abroad Rio borders, so people all over the world could also sense the pleasure I experimented, when seeing her watercolors and giclée prints. When I finally saw at her atelier the paintings, her limited edition giclée depicting Rio de Janeiro as examples, I was sure something supernatural was about to take place: Definitely, it was a Providential encounter.
Amongst Sonia Madruga´s recurrent themes, we will find Rio de Janeiro landscapes, Brazilian Carnival culture, the Divine and spirituality, the love for Peace, and last but not least, a special cherish for cats. This article will tentatively try to describe the journey of this fantastic artist, which has produced certainly a remarkable collection of watercolor in Brazil´s new art scene, through the showing of some her paintings, critics by art especialists and collectors, and sparkles of her own words.
Let´s start this voyage by reading a few words of Sonia Madruga, when decided to have a full commitment to Brazilian Art. “For more than 20 years I was a fashion designer. Later, for six years, I travelled to 35 countries in all the continents of this planet. After 2002, I embraced the watercolor as my professional expression.”
Below, we see the most well known Rio de Janeiro icon, Christ The Redeemer, welcoming and blessing the population.
The name of this colorful watercolor by Sonia Madruga is "Christ in Open Arms".
After Sonia´s commitment for art in Brazil in 2002, she adopted the watercolors as her principal expression. She participated in several specific workshops, like the State University of Rio de Janeiro´s Observation Design and Live Model with Otávio Avancini and Alberto Kaplan for watercolor techniques. Later she took part of 18th Edition of Professor Charles Watson Intensive Workshop. Her fascination with watercolor and its modern paper techniques became evident when she decided to probe deep into its mysteries. She travelled then to Spain and to the Cairo museum in Egypt, to understand the history of watercolor from primitive paintings in papyrus to contemporary effect on different kinds of papers’ textures.
She wrote the Brazilan art book-album of watercolors called “Paths of Gibran” – “Caminhos de Gilbran”, edited in Portuguese and French. It was also published on her personal site www.soniamadruga.com. The Brazilian artist later opened her studio with a permanent exhibitionn and art gallery. From 2002 until July 2008 Sonia held six solo exhibitions in Brazil and participated in several conferences related to Rio de Janeiro art, giclée techniques, and the evolution of Brazilian watercolor. In September 2008 , during the release of her watercolors in Giclée at the Artexpo Las Vegas, USA, Sonia Madruga signed a contract with the Ward-Nasse Gallery in SoHo, New York. Later, Sonia´s art is laureate is in a public contest organized by the City of Rio de Janeiro specifically for Brazilian artists and artisans.
Art Critique by Roberto Menna Barreto , famed author in Brazil, entrepreneur, fine art collector:
“Sonia Madruga doesn´t even have to say she is a “Carioca” (term used to describe those born in the city of Rio de Janeiro) both because of her personality and her career intrinsically identified with the city of Rio. For 20 years, Sonia served as women's fashion designer and her innovation with materials and concepts, established new standards in Rio city´s living and fashion scene. Already at this stage, her encouragement for the fine arts emphasized and underlined her work; either by supporting the record breaking public attendance of the Rodin exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts in Rio, or working in partnership with fashion artists of the new concepts of “Wearable Art”, in her collections. Sonia then traveled the world totally committed to the adventure of self-knowledge. With many stories to tell, she finally encountered her mission in the challenging watercolor art technique, her innermost form of expression."
This delicate watercolor was the first contact I had with Sonia´s art. It impressed me because of its lines and a non-stereotyped vision of an important icon of the Rio Carnival, the samba-host and the flag-bearer of a samba-school.
The name of this colorful watercolor by Sonia Madruga is "The Samba Host and the Flag Bearer"
The first complete and organic work actually occurred in June 2002. From 2002 to 2008 participated, the Brazilian artist participated in numerous exhibitions and achieved an impressive record of 10 consecutive gold medals, awarded by the City of Rio´s Fine Arts Institute. In Paris 2009, her art of Brazil was honored by the “Academie des Arts et Lettres Française ” with the “Dargent medal” (Silver Medal). The Rio artist developed an amazing color and shapes technique, within a contemporary language and, like all genuine art, non-transferable. It is clearly art painting done with pleasure. Without any kind of hesitation, what strikes the eye at first sight is the color variation exuberance, combined with her contagious joy. A closer look though, one soon recognizes the competence of a truly unique technique, which is surprising because it was achieved so rapidly. “
Leda Maria – Art Curator - Ward Nasse Gallery - Mar 2009
“What to say about Sonia Madrugas art? In my view her work has a touch of Matisse in her use of color and a little bit of Lautrec in her daily life scenes - all full of joy and very engaging. Sonia´s work is strong and exudes energy while remaining very feminine. Her compositions are original and unique and, unsurprisingly, her inspiration comes direct from the source: from her travels around the world.
Bridget de Moura Castro, musician from the United States, in respect to the watercolor she painted especially for CD “Ave Maria” album cover, from the record label LArt. – May 2007
"We are all delighted with the very beautiful cover for the Ave Maria CD. It has so much life, strength, love, colour and a wonderfully imaginative use of space that depicts a truly living message of spirituality... Not only my friend the singer, Claudette, was enchanted and moved by the painting, but all our friends who have seen the CD cover were very moved by it. We send you our congratulations; our admiration and pleasure in being able to collaborate in what we hope will be only the first of many other projects."
Claudette Leblanc, soprano, from Canada, also with respect to the watercolor she painted especially for CD “Ave Maria” album cover, from the record label Lard. – May 2007
"I was so impressed with the art on the cover that I sent it on to a friend who was equally as impressed, who sent it on to a mutual friend who at this moment is in New York. This person is an International Art Dealer in New York/Toronto/UK and Dubai. What a gifted Artist!!”
I love the colors and graphic esthetics of this art, with the Holy Spirit well placed in the middle of the watercolor.
The name of this Brazilian watercolor by Sonia Madruga is "Festivity of the Divine".
Selected List Exhibitions & Participations
2002 to 2005
June 2002 - Air watercolors Sonia Madruga, 2002. – “The River Watercolor-Transitions”, Sonia Madruga, the work was chosen to be the symbol of workshops UERJ (in the second half of 2002). Posters were produced with this watercolor and workshops for its development, and posted in all the museums and cultural centers of the state of Rio de Janeiro.
June-July 2003. - Travel to Spain, Lebanon and Egypt: watercolors research on the Prado in Madrid; research in the Cairo Museum on watercolors, painting, Lebanon, the series in honor of Gibran Khalil Gibran and write the book (to be published) FLOWER OF THE EMPEROR (in Portuguese and French). Her watercolors debut on Emmagoss Gallery in Beirut.
February 2004 - Delivery handmade copy of the book-album of watercolors that he wrote about Lebanon in hands, Mr. President Emile Lahoud of Lebanon, on a visit to Rio de Janeiro. Rio
February 2005 - Citibank - Bar – “FULL CARNIVAL. Rio
May 2005 - Travel to Pirenópolis, Goiás, which results in the series “FEAST OF DIVINE”. Pirenópolis, Goiás
November 2005 - Participates in the Annual Auction of Fine Arts International Newcomers Club of Rio de Janeiro (INC) at the Sheraton Hotel, and has sold her three works presented. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
2006 to 2008
April 2006 - Collective at the Copacabana Fort, in the Temporary Exhibition Hall Historical Museum of the Army. Rio de Janeiro.
June 2006 - Collective exhibition at the Cultural Center Theophilo Massad in Angra dos Reis where he received the gold medal in two categories involved - Contemporary Paintings and Watercolors. Collective exhibition at the Military Museum Linhares, RJ, again winning two gold medals in the categories of Contemporary Paintings and Watercolors. Receives the title of Commander of Arts by the ABD. Angra dos Reis, RJ.
This Rio de Janeiro Carnival watercolor presents the famous curves of the samba dancers.
The name of this colorful watercolor by Sonia Madruga is "As boas" or "The Curves"
December 2006 - Cover CD for the appointment, with Sebastião Tapajós, opening the celebrations of nine years in the Music Project Museum. Seal L'Art. Reproductions of the watercolors in Pictus Sonia Madruga, Shopping Gávea, Rio de Janeiro: clocks and paper and canvas reproductions authenticated by the artist.
May 2007 - In the exhibition of the "Divine Waters" - Celebrating the arrival of Pope Benedict XVI and the canonization of Frei Galvão, 11-20 May at the Castle Wine.In this exhibition, highlighting two watercolors, one in honor of Frei Galvão, and watercolor AVE MARIA Gratia Plena, produced especially for the CD cover Ave Maria, the label L'ART, whose launch coincides with and celebrates the visit of Pope Benedict XVI to Brazil. Visiting hours: from 12h to 23h, with free admission.
June 2007 – “100 years of the Church of St. Alphonsus and Art” - - In celebration of the centenary of the Church of St. Albans, organ concert with Bridget de Moura Castro, book signings CD Ave Maria, seal L'ART. The original watercolor, Sonia Madruga, who illustrated the cover of this CD, received the visiting public, on display at the main altar.
July 2007 – “VOTE Campaign CHRIST” - 30 days every day - July 2007 - VOTE Campaign CHRIST. Every day for 30 days watercolors and photographs that attracted hundreds of visitors from Brazil and several countries.
December 2007 - Participation in group exhibition at the Military Museum Linhares. Completing the cycle of 10 consecutive gold medals in four years, with several elected by the public as the best work of the hall. Meeting this circuit exhibit was a tribute to Maria Helena da Cunha, my mother. Rio
February 2008: “Mega Carnival Flags in Rio´s Sambadrome”. - Otavio Avancini Project for the School of Samba Pimpolho Mirim, the Rio Grande; participated in the two mega-painting flags with 5.5 m x 5.5 m each: Vila Isabel Samba School & Salgueiro Samba School
March 2008: “International Women's Day”. - Meeting at the workshop brought together women of different generations, with the theme: Successful Women and Their Issues. Exhibition of watercolors in honor of the woman.
This Rio art watercolor part of the "Carnival" series is one of my favorites. It combines several elements of the magival festivity: The Brazilian Flag, the icon figure of the samba dancer, the Sugar Loaf, Corcovado Mountain with the Christ Statue, delicate stars, and other "hidden elements." A masterpiece!
The name of this colorful watercolor by Sonia Madruga is "February in Carnival"
March 2008: Watercolors by Sonia Madruga “Gibran Exhibition in 125 years” - LOCATION: Club Athletic Hall of Mount Lebanon - Lebanon Av, 2267 - Ibirapuera - Sao Paulo - SP, March 28 to April 09. Tribute to Gibran by artists, painters and sculptors from various sources-immigration Portuguese, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Chinese, Greek, French, German, Latin American and also of Arab origin and Sonia Madruga represents Brazil. São Paulo, SP.
September 2008: Las Vegas Art Expo - Participates in the art fair in the U.S. and signed to the Ward-Nasse Gallery, Soho, NY, USA
2009 to 2011
January 2009: Year Watercolor and Villa Lobos. - The Watercolor “Memories” of Sonia Madruga is the CD cover for Bachiannas Album, seal L'ART, with pianist Luiz Carlos Moura Castro, celebrating Villa Lobos Anniversary.
April 2009: “BRAZILIAN BEAT” - Ward-Nasse Gallery NY - Curator Leda Prado, conference, 11-26 April - 2009. SoHo NY - USA.
May 2009: Cultural FIESP - Ruth Cardoso - UNESCO Beirut named World Book Capital for 2009. / "Byblos, the oldest inhabited city in the world, was the first school that mankind has memory, having been founded by the Phoenicians invented the alphabet, the foundations of universal culture. Byblos in the book industry has prospered so much that its products by the today have names derived from it, such as: Bible, library, bibliography, etc.. This grand event also presented historical documents and expressive names in their respective fields: Gibran Khalil Gibran, Amin Maalouf, Raduan Nassar, Milton Hatoum, Paulo Coelho Antonio Houaiss Evanildo Bechara, Aziz Ab'Saber, Father Emile Eddé, Paulo Daniel Farah, Roberto Khatlab, among others. Artists, painters and sculptors of international pay tribute to immigration with their works. Sonia Madruga accepted the invitation and has two works painted during her visit to Lebanon in 2003. São Paulo, SP.
Below, the powerful and striking watercolor "St. Jude Thaddeus", in a Brazilian Arstistical perspective
May 2009: at Paris, Sonia Madruga receives award from the Academy of Arts, Sciences and Letters of France. - The artist receives the Medaille d'Argent by all of her work. Official ceremony of the French Academy of Arts, Science and Letters at the Palace Dauphine, Paris, France.
May 2009 : Exhibition at Galerie Everart, Paris - France. - From 11 to 26 May 2009 the artist participated in the Hall "L'Univers brésilien." Co-curated by Diva Pavesi and Alexandros Papadopoulos Evremidis. Paris, France.
Jun 2009 –“In the waters of Buzios” - Flory Menezes Gallery, 168 Rua das Pedras. Sonia Madruga solo exhibition, featuring 38 works, 22 watercolors and a tribute to Brigitte Bardot, painted with rainwater from Paris. Exhibition extended until SET-2009. Buzios, Rio de Janeiro.
June 2010: “Call of Art - Mail Art Exhibition” -. Syntagma Square, Athens, Greece 325 artists, 608 works from 45 countries participating in this show. Curator Thomae told - Athens, Greece.
August 2011- “II International Meeting of Watercolors in Paraty” - 25 to 20 Aug - Sonia Madruga involved presenting two watercolors with the Divine as a metaphor. The two watercolors of the Divine are distinguished among the six best works of the meeting in Paraty, Rio de Janeiro
September 2011- “IMMACULATE” - Sonia Madruga is a guest painter to curator Marcelo Frazão to expose the opening of her Immaculate Gallery.
May 2011 - ” A DAY FOR PEACE” at Centro Cultural Casa das Rosas, individual Exhibition of watercolors by Sonia Madruga. Avenida Paulista, 37 - Sao Paulo. In presenting the exhibition”Waters of Peace”, in the event which brought instrumental music, dance, storytelling, poetry and videos of Prem Rawsat. Sao Paulo - SP.
Sonia Madruga supports internationally with her art project WOPG, cause of peace of Prem Rawat, and donates part of her sales to parish works in Rio de Janeiro in favor of the poor and the sick. Several of her original art watercolors were auctioned in Catholic support groups.