Interview with Ernesto Alvez

von Moritz Stellmacher

Please introduce yourself

Hi, my name is Ernesto Alvez. I’m a Brasilian painter.

What are you interested in, when you do art?

I am doing art because I found myself in art, when I was nine years old. I remember very well that I was trying to draw a face for my art teacher. She said that my painting was not very good. But I remember it drawn very well. Since she didn’t like it, afterwards i was trying to do it better. I began looking for Brazilian paintings that interested myself. I found Portinari. I liked him because of the movements, the faces of the people, it was what I wanted to show. I became very curious about how to show the feelings.

Are you more interested to show your feelings or the feelings of the people you draw?

My feelings and the feelings of the people. But the feelings of the people could also be my feelings. I can express my feelings for example with dancing. When I see something that I really like I can paint the people that have the same feeling as me and I’m expressing my feelings with their feelings.

So, you did paintings in the style of Portonari?

Yes, I started to copy him. He is a cubist actually. He was doing cubism before Picasso. Cubism is hard because there is so much freedom. Picasso used to say you need 40 years to draw like a kid, because you need to feel free like a kid, but you have to have notions. I have a serious problem with the contemporary art, because I think everyone does the same. When you paint figurative you really need to create. Artists are responsible to create a new world.

Why did you choose to express yourself with painting?

Of course I can express myself painting or singing or writing, but with painting I can show my feelings. I am also a photographer. I can express myself also very well with photography, but with painting, you can express your soul – you can express with colors. Imagine nobody would paint figurative today, how would people later remember feelings? Of a children that smiles? In 2025. I can use a camera and take pictures, but what can I do as a human about my feelings? The picture can not get my feeling, it can only get expressions from somebody else.

But photography is more objective, that’s why people understand it. It’s a better medium to communicate. Most people don’t understand your painting when they don’t know you.

There are two feelings, my feelings and the feelings from my subjects.

The people who see your paintings possibly don’t have the same feelings as you.

I think when they see a good painting, you feel the feeling of the painter and the feeling of the people. With figurative paintings I can create another world. You can show feelings and that’s what I am missing in contemporary art, painting is both: Idea and feeling.

You came to Rio to study.

Today in my country I can not study because the fucking people only think about fucking football, you know the games in ancient Rome? It’s not men fighting against lions anymore. I would like to study here but there is no place, only rich people can study art. I want to go to study in Europe because I need to develop.

Lets talk about the paintings:

Fahlo Tropical

Fado tropical, 100×80 oil on canvas, 2008

Fahlo Tropical is Portuguese music genre. It’s very melancholic, they talk a lot about very sad things. Melancholic but tropical, a Brazilian fahlo. When I did this painting, I went to the government of Canada. I was without any status over there, working illegal and I said I don’t need it. I went to the government of Canada and I told them that I was having a hard time in Brazil and that I don’t want to go back to Brazil and they accepted. But this was a lie and I supported this lie for six, seven month. But this lie hurt myself like a fire. So in this time, when I was supporting this lie, I drew many masks. I couldn’t do my face again, so you never see the eyes whether it’s true and they both are playing a song, a very sad song. I couldn’t support it, so I went to the government again one day and said: No, it was not true, I want to go back to Brazil.


Migrantes 70×100 oil on canvas, 2006

Well I was born in Minas Gerais, in the north of Brazil. Over there it can take five, four years to rain, it’s very dry, nothing growth. I drew my father, me and my sister. I was just trying to express this feeling of getting out of this. In this time it was very poor life and the sun was very hard and it hurt you a lot. They wanted to appear in another civilisation, without showing themselves. Actually I had no hard time over there, to be true. – But my brother had. The first memory I have, I was like two years old and I remember her funeral. This are me and my brother coming from this place after she died. We went with my father to Sao Paulo and it means migration.


Pescador 70×100 oil on canvas, 2006

This is the fisher. This one is very good, see the moonlight, it was famous for Portonari. There are no paintings from Portonari about fishers but I studied the light. I couldn’t meet a fisher in the evening time because they are not there anymore. I tried to get the feelings of the fisher.


Musico, 70×100 oil on canvas, 2006

I did it because a guy asked me to do it. He started to buy my stuff when I was fourteen years old. He asked me to do something about the samba. He told me: Ernesto, samba is something you should really look at. So I started to listen to samba, to do the forms and the men. I did the instruments very fast, it was coming very easy. I heard any samba that talks about love, that talks about harmony and music and it’s a lot about colors, because colors can show you the emotions truly. If I paint black and white you will be sad, but if I paint you the same picture red and yellow, you will be some way happy. So I decided to cut it. And it was the first one. I did like this. I did black, white, yellow, blue. And after this I was so in the feelings for each color, what each color could give you. So I painted and it was as if I could give you music. I can make you feel the music. The feeling of you, really doing the music.

If someone knows a place for Ernesto to study or exhibit, please contact him:

Moritz Stellmacher

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