October 2, 2014

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Icon: Romero Britto

Artist; Miami; age 47

Art Levy | 4/1/2011


[Photo: Brian Smith]
» I was studying law, hoping to be a diplomat. I wanted to travel the world and be an ambassador for Brazil and learn about people and countries and everything. But then came a moment that I realized it was not through this that I would find happiness. So I gave up the idea of being a diplomat and I gave up studying law. I quit everything and I said: 'You know what? I'm going to just paint.'

» I grew up in a family of nine, and my mother was a single mother. We lived in a part of Brazil called Recife, and we lived in a very poor part of the city. It was very difficult, very challenging. I was a child who didn't understand where the food would come from, where the money would come from. I started painting to bring light and color into my life.

» Color is a universal language, like music is a universal language. Yellow and blue are yellow and blue anywhere in the world.

» With the way globalization is today, people can see how other people live across the world, and this makes some people feel left out. They feel jealous and then they want to take things from the other people because they feel like they deserve it. That's when the problems arise.

» A lot of times, people go through difficult times and they become angry. I went through difficult times, but I'm always trying to see the best in the world.

» When I create, I put together shapes and colors and then I use the shapes and colors to create a kind of vocabulary that everybody can understand.

» When I was a kid, I loved watching soap opera television, and I dreamed that my life would someday become like that. It was so different from how I actually lived.

» There is some negative stuff happening around the world, but I still think that there's more beauty happening, and I focus on that beauty. When I look at my work, I feel happy. I feel content. I don't have to drink a bottle of anything. And hopefully people who see it have that same feeling of joy without having to fill themselves full of alcohol or drugs.

» Miami influences my work definitely. The people. The weather. The atmosphere. The special energy about the place. The water. The sky. The light. The city has such vitality and happiness.

» When the people who gravitate to darkness and negativity criticize me, it doesn't mean anything. Their words I can't hear. I just keep doing my work.

» I think there are more people who understand what I do than people who can't, so I'm not focusing on what the art critics say. At the end of the day, the people fill up their walls with what they like.

» It's not difficult to run a business when you love what you do. I love what I do. I'm excited about waking up in the morning, and I'm ready for the challenge. Plus, I have very good people around me. I have a loyal staff.

» I have a great opportunity to walk and talk and feel and see, but I'm here not that long. In another 50 years I'm going to be gone, so why not do something interesting? Why not fill my every day with colors? To have this opportunity and not do anything, that would be such a waste.

» The mothers will tell you, having a baby will hurt a lot, but she loves the child. That's how I love my paintings. I love what I do, but sometimes the process of creating hurts.

» It would be a wonderful thing if we could somehow forecast our lives as we do today with the weather, that we could know a little bit ahead of time what we will become. That way, we wouldn't waste time doing things that would be a waste of time. We would just focus on the right thing, but unfortunately we don't have that yet. We don't have a manual to tell us how to be a human being, how to be a husband, a wife, daughter, son or friend. So, sometimes, we make mistakes, but I'm happy to be here learning from my mistakes.

» I like to look at art with a positive image, something you can look at on the wall and not feel scared and want to run away. I leave the horrible paintings for people who feel dark inside, to enjoy seeing themselves reflected on a painting.

» There's this beautiful thing about happiness that we all want so much. The world wants it, and that's what our struggle is all about. Sometimes, happiness gets confused with power. That's the biggest problem we have.

» I like to drive. When I'm driving, I'm thinking about who is ahead of me, not who is behind me.

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