Bettina Moraes

I found a unique and uplifting collection of art in a very special place. My good friend, whose words happen to be the inspiration for Journal 8’s motto (The beauty of life lies in the details), is the daughter of Bettina Moraes. Bettina is a Brazilian artist and my chará, which means name-twin in Portuguese. I have looked at her paintings and illustrations since I first visited my friend’s apartment when we both still lived in Philadelphia. I was immediately taken with an ephemeral artwork, which she had appropriately installed in her kitchen. Delicate, diaphanous white paper etched with inky brushstrokes, reminiscent of Japanese calligraphy, danced playfully up and around the walls. An artfully arranged assortment of elegantly airy sketches embodied the sense of movement and lightness present in Eastern characters. However, Bettina’s characters were figurative symbols. Each individual drawing was a whimsically rendered everyday object: a whisk, a wooden spoon, a bowl, a salt shaker. Each element was blown out, simplified, and expressed with quirk and a light spirit.

I was encantada even before experiencing Bettina’s use of color. Bright, daring, contrasting colors of paint are applied like pieces of a collage. The same deconstructed and whimsical domestic objects of her drawing reinvent themselves though paint in heavy line and vibrant color block. The effect is joyful, feminine, and in my opinion, folkloric. Whether the objects are pictured overlapping in collage, or isolated like an introspective portrait, each one seems to hold a story. They present themselves like symbols of some hidden truth, some rumor, some wisdom, some mythology.

Whenever I visit her daughter, I always stop and look at Bettina’s colorful teapots, saints, chairs, plants, and lemon squeezers. They ceaselessly draw me in, always revitalizing and always intriguing. I invite you to take a moment with these images: take in the colors, the objects, the lines. Do they stir something in you? Do they tell you a story? Do they transport you? I often find myself tracing the objects, inventing their history. They are fodder for fiction.

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