Red, rust, and teal paintings of fruit stacked against a wall in the studio of Lourenço Providência.

Lourenço Provîdencia portrays his subject's most essential qualities through minimalist paintings that value an economy of line and color. We chatted with the New York-based artist about spontaneity, themes in his work, and the most difficult part of the artistic process.

Where are you from and where do you reside?

I am Portuguese, from Porto, and lived in Copenhagen, Denmark for some time. I am currently living in New York.

What necessities do you require when making your art (radio, specific paintbrushes)?

When creating my drawings, all I need is a pencil and paper.

Describe a typical day in the studio for you.

My artistic and professional practice combines different areas, from painting, drawing, editorial illustration, and even design. In that sense, each day is unique, depending on what kind of work I'm doing. It can vary on days when I work from a more digital or analog point of view, but what all or almost all have in common is a coffee to start the day, music or podcast on the speaker, usually a dose of research, answering emails, other paperwork, and some drawings. Everything else can vary.


What is the most difficult part of the artistic process for you?

I think it's the initial part where I try to come up with some idea that I've never had before, and that somehow succeeds in being interesting. Something that can surprise me and the viewer.

Are there any aspects of your process that are left to chance?

I would like this to happen, but I still can't give myself the freedom to do so. For now, I feel that everything has to be controlled as much as possible.

How important is spontaneity in your art?

Spontaneity happens in my work in an initial phase where I only have a pencil and blank sheets of paper. From there I can expand and flow, trying to translate into paper all the themes, moments, and things that pass through my mind. So at that stage, spontaneity becomes very important.

People, people, people - no matter how much I want to draw more abstract things that don't resort to the figure, that's what always comes to my mind when I start drawing. People doing things, in strange positions - pieces of people.

Lourenço Providência

Where do you find your day-to-day inspiration?

For me finding inspiration is very easy; I am quite enthusiastic and quickly become fascinated by my surroundings. However, there are some things that resonate with me the most, and they all have a connection to what I see as beauty and sensuality. For example, my girlfriend, she inspires me a lot. But also clothes, details of clothes like buttons, design objects, colors, all the things that amaze me when they cross my path.

What are some themes you find recurring in your pieces, intentional or not?

People, people, people - no matter how much I want to draw more abstract things, that don't resort to the figure that's what always comes to my mind when I start drawing. People doing things, in strange positions - pieces of people. These themes are recurrent, but I like to expand and try to get away from it, precisely because that theme for me is the safest.


How has your background in design and illustration influenced your practice?

My training has had a total influence on my artistic practice. Design straightforwardly influences my style. Besides having studied design, I have worked in some studios for years, and I continue to make occasional collaborations with others even to this day. I believe that what design has taught me the most is to look at shapes and details with a rigorous eye. When I worked with typography regularly, I had to look at those perfect curves that form a letter and understand the visual balance, contrast, and thickness. After spending so many years trying to understand how something so small can be so well designed that will ultimately help people to read in an easier way, it also makes me think about every curve I make in my drawings and paintings and what purpose they will serve.

Design, especially modernist design, also teaches me that I need a few resources to make something look good. In the history of design, there are many cases of very beautiful posters printed in only one or two colours, not by the designer's choice but because it is cheaper. In that sense, these restrictions have brought brilliant solutions.

Are you influenced by any author or non-visual artist? Are you influenced by any artist that does something completely different than you?

Yes, definitely. I feel that with the overdose of images and artists that we consume on a daily basis, the tendency is for us to make work that looks more and more like each other. Being aware of this problem, I try more and more to seek references from other sources. For example, I am very interested in listening to humorists, not only because they are funny, but because of their ability to see current events from another point of view. It's something that fascinates me like finding new points of view on banal themes that have been with us for centuries.

And, of course, music is something non-visual that inspires me a lot. Especially musicians who make music with only one instrument, and make me recognize that with few resources, you can make brilliant and memorable works.

Is there any artwork on display in your home/studio? Whose is it?

I am very interested in having a very minimal home decor, with just a few objects and art pieces. So when my girlfriend and I bring something home, we try to make sure it's meticulously selected. However, the few pieces of art we have are pieces that warm our souls and have history. We have a traditional Guatemalan hand-embroidered cloth, a cloth with very simple figures and animals with beautiful colours. Also visually related to this piece, we have two mini sculptures of traditional handicrafts typical of northern Portugal, where we came from. These sculptures have been made for many years and people decorate their homes with them in festive times. I appreciate them because I feel the popular culture and a visual heritage intrinsic in these pieces.

Last updated July 17, 2023.