Former graffiti artist Ricardo Passaporte seems to find joy in everyday life. Interested in branding, advertising and commercialism, he first made a name for himself in Europe with paintings inspired by the famous German discount supermarket chain Lidl. However, a quick look at his website indicates that animals are currently a concern for him. “Sometimes they are. It depends on the mood,” he told Creative Boom.
Depicted in bright, airbrushed colors – a nice little nod to his tagging past – Ricardo’s animal images have a playful sense of composition. They are sometimes seen occupying unusual spaces and doing ordinary activities. Just grab the board of a cat ready to take a spin at the pool table. It’s all part of an art style he calls “naive figurative?!”
Yet despite this apparent – and deliberately constructed – naïveté, Ricardo has an eclectic set of influences that have shaped his style. These include the Belgian Francis Alys, who first trained as an architect, and Walter Swennen, known for his radical and associative approach to painting. The integrity of these artists, among many others, inspired Ricardo. “With marginal artists, I feel them [to be] purer,” he explains.
Perhaps part of the brutality of Ricardo’s style comes from the fact that he did not study painting originally. Like his inspiration Francis Alys, he began by learning another discipline, but in his case, it was a master’s degree in fashion design. “At that time, I thought I could learn a lot more [with] fashion design than in a Portuguese painting class,” he reveals.
Art also seems to run in his family, so maybe it’s an inherited skill that didn’t require him to take formal classes to begin with? “My grandfather was a painter and my great-grandfather was a photographer, I think that’s why,” adds Ricardo. “Or at least it was a good boost.”
Considering dogs of all breeds, from poodles to Dalmatians, appear regularly in Ricardo’s portfolio, it’s surprising to learn that they’ve fallen out of favor with him as a subject. Once a subject he found fun to draw — one of his exhibits was even titled “If Dogs Don’t Go to Heaven, I Want to Go Where They Go” — it seems their charm has faded.
“Now I’m a bit fed up,” says Ricardo. “I’m just going to give them rest for a while.”