Romero BrittoAhmad Minkara M'07
Through his vibrant colors, joyful themes and commanding compositions, Romero Britto has become one of the most important living Artists in contemporary Pop Art. Upon inspection, there is an almost magical quality to Britto's story. The eighth of nine siblings growing up in an impoverished home, Britto's humble beginnings led to his personal vision that everyone should enjoy and live with art. This definitive belief influenced his artistic style and subject matter and is often described as Neo Pop. Britto creates a completely new expression that reflects his optimistic faith in the world around him while alluding to influences of early and modern masters. The global art community has embraced Romero Britto with private and corporate commissions, exhibitions and museum shows. This overwhelming success has reinforced Britto's belief that "art is too important not to share". As a result, Britto has given his time, talent, and funds to hundreds of worthwhile philanthropic organizations. The realization of this dream come true is ongoing for Britto, who maintains a studio open to the public for anyone and everyone to enjoy his art. This natural inclination for Britto to express himself visually became apparent to those around him from his early childhood. Born in 1963, in Recife, Brazil, Britto often painted images from his active imagination on scraps of cardboard and newspaper. Britto's large family nurtured his developing skills by providing art books for him to study. "My Mother raised us by herself and I remember being alone a lot of the time with papers and paint. I would sit and copy Toulouse Lautrec and other masters out of the books, day after day." That this pastime became the crux of Romero's vision is no surprise. He said, "As a child growing up poor in Brazil, I was introduced to the darker side of humankind. The result was that I started painting to bring light and color into my life." By the age of fourteen, Britto received honors at his first public exhibition held by the Organization of American States. Although encouraged by this early success, the modest circumstances of Britto's life as well as his strong respect for discipline led him toward more practical, academic pursuits. Britto received a scholarship and went on to study law at the Catholic University of Pernambuco. However, law and government created a lifestyle that seemed too pessimistic for this Artist, who is constantly in search of happiness in everyday life. Thus, after two years, Britto made a life defining choice to explore his natural inclination for art. Immediately, Britto traveled to Europe and found success at one man shows in both Germany and England. However, the works of American Pop Artists, captivating in their candid displays of popular culture, drew Britto to the United States. Thus, by 1989, Britto made Miami, Florida his permanent home where, the diverse cultural landscape and tropical beauty remind him of his native Brazil. Almost immediately, Britto's art was identified by private and corporate collectors for its ability to express his positive and energetic outlook on life through his art. Gerard A. Houghton stated of Britto's London show in 1999, "His work overflows with an exuberant vitality and self-confidence seldom seen in western art since Cubism". In a multitude of mediums and endless themes, Britto's work seems inspired by the primitive ideas of the early modern masters combined with the approach of his Pop contemporaries. Simultaneously present are the exotic flavors of rhythm and culture gifted to Britto from his Brazilian homeland. As such, Britto's style today has become well known for his unabashed representation of life celebrated through vibrant colors and hard-edged compositions. Revealed in peaceful, playful, sensual, and perpetually joyful themes, Britto's people, animals, flowers, and sunsets reveal the enthusiastic potential of everyday experiences. "To achieve such airborne emotions, Britto has invented his own pictorial language. With brilliant colors, harmonious shapes, and pleasing patterns, his art is an art that demands to be taken on its own terms," says Eileen Guggenheim of Britto's art in the Museo de Bellas Artes in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Britto's daring combinations of color, size, pattern and prospective are quite deliberate. The varied thickness of Britto's black outlines enhance the depth and form of his subjects. His precise stripes and polka dots create textures that further describe the subject matter as three-dimensional characters and places. Most distinctive is Britto's own signature as a design element in each of his canvases since 1992. These elements combine to create a style that is fresh and invigorating and can be understood by all. Often described as Neo Pop, Britto's art has moved beyond the philosophy of Pop Art as a reflection of popular culture toward an art that has become a pop icon. Britto's art does not only hang on our walls but is incorporated into those everyday items that we enjoy - couture fashions, postage stamps, and PepsiŽ cans! The potential impact of his art on others is powerful and at the same time humbling for Britto. "My inspiration continues not only for the person who commissions my paintings but for the laborer who reaches into his pocket for his last few coins to purchase a Pepsi and perhaps smile at my painting on the can." This truly contemporary vision continues to grow and develop. While Britto primarily creates with acrylic on canvas, his work also includes grand sculpture in both aluminum and wood. The dynamics of three dimensions allows Britto to further explore his talent and communicate to his audience. His "Welcome" sculpture in Miami Dade's Datran Station will be not only Britto's largest sculpture at 40 feet tall but also Miami's largest public sculpture. At his studio, Britto Central, Britto demonstrates other new artistic explorations on man-made, functional objects of plastic, glass, aluminum, and ceramic. Corporate collectors are enamored with Britto's innovative approach to fine art. Shortly after Britto arrived in the United States, Michel Roux, founder of Absolut Vodka's Absolut Art Ad Campaign, happened by Britto's first studio in Coconut Grove, Florida. Roux quickly asked Britto to reinterpret the famous bottle, which would be published and seen by millions. Consistently challenging himself and his art, Britto has completed other corporate works for Movado, Disney, Enrico Coveri, Pepsi, the United Nations, BMW and Royal Caribbean Cruises. With each new project, Britto has the opportunity to inspire a new group of collectors and promote his personal philosophy that everyone should enjoy art. As Norman Braman stated of the new BMW Mini-Cooper, "When we decided to reintroduce the Mini Cooper as the smile-generating machine, it took only five minutes to decide that Romero Britto would be our choice to paint this new classic." While Britto maintains, "I was born to paint life in a different way, rejoicing in the beauty our world has to offer," he is certainly no stranger to hardship. It is this fact which makes it understandable that Britto also shares his talent with worthwhile international charitable organizations such as St. Jude's, the American Red Cross, Doctors Without Borders and Best Buddies International. While his art has been reproduced to help these and many other organizations raise funds for their causes, some of Britto's proudest moments have come from interacting with those who will specifically benefit from his art - painting with children afflicted with often fatal diseases to simply visiting with others who stay at the hospitals that own his oversize murals. Of course, the financial needs of these organizations and the families whom they help are always at the fore. In 1999, a Britto original, "Cheek to Cheek," brought $100,000 at live auction to the Agassi Foundation in Las Vegas, Nevada. Britto has prided himself for never saying "no" on any occasion to an organization in need. In Britto's words, "I feel lucky to have been given the gift of creativity so that I may share my vision of a better world. I will never forget what it was like to be poor." To date, Britto's art is shown in over 140 galleries worldwide. He has been profiled in numerous national publications including People, Art News, Variety, and Leaders. He lives in Miami, Florida, with his wife and son. His studio in Miami Beach is open to the public and has become a meeting place for school children, collectors and art enthusiasts. His talent and generous spirit affect all those with whom he comes into contact. This is what makes so many people want to live with Romero Britto's art everyday and why he is the most celebrated Artist alive today. "For me, art can reflect the celebration of the simple and good things in life. This is most important to me!"