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Butterflies | © Santiago Ribeiro
Butterflies | © Santiago Ribeiro
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Santiago Ribeiro on Influences, Motivations and Taipei

Picture of Ciaran McEneaney
Updated: 15 February 2017
Art Revolution Taipei is an art exhibition held each year showcasing both local and international artists. This year Portuguese artist Santiago Ribeiro, known for his works of surrealism, is exhibiting one of his paintings Butterflies in the city. We caught up with Santiago and asked him a few questions about his work and what influences his style.

Culture Trip: Santiago, we love your surreal style. Although it might seem obvious to some, who are your greatest influences?

Santiago Ribeiro: It’s not what you’d expect. In fact, some might say that I have had an eclectic taste in art since my youth. Of course, there are a few whose works have left their mark on me: Hieronymus Bosch, Leonardo da Vinci, Picasso, Rubens, and Goya, among others but I was also influenced by painters that are famous only in my area. My biggest influences, however, are the experiences I had since childhood and even the ones I have today. Influences never really end, do they?

CT: What motivates you to paint? What topics are you trying to explore through your art?

SR: These days my personal life is a little complicated, causing me to refrain from painting the human figure. So right now I am painting a bit randomly, doing only what my intuition commands and without knowing where it will take me. However, in the past, human behavior in both its individual and collective experiences, space, and infinite time were a great motivation to me. And in a sense, they still are though my paintings have taken a different course, as can be seen in my Metropoles which is what I am working on right now.

CT: Have you ever felt influenced by the Taipei Art scene?

SR: To be perfectly honest, I’d have to say no. I was only invited to participate in the initial submission phase by an old associate of mine and wasn’t really sure that my work would be chosen. But since my painting is now part of the exhibition, I’m starting to realize that Taipei has a thriving art scene.

CT: Your Butterflies painting was chosen as part of Art Revolution Taipei, can you tell us a little about the painting?

SR: Yes, of course. This painting is not your typical piece of artwork, as I feel that although my hands created what you see, it was the mind of Ilona Ruiva [a friend] that inspired me. Every night I painted according to her guidance, and I suppose you could say that she was my muse. I consider it a painting of the beautiful and fantastic with my surrealistic touch of the 21st century.

CT: What can we expect from you in 2017?

SR: Well, the future sometimes brings us unexpected things, so who really knows? But in addition to my painting, I have a great international artistic project that is entitled International Surrealism Now. It is an exhibition that already has about 97 artists from 46 countries. This project began in 2010, sponsored by the Portuguese Foundation Bissaya Barreto and since then has never stopped.

CT: Have you any final thoughts that you would like to add?

SR: We are living in difficult times, and even though our struggles never end, I have hope that the goodwill of people across the world can bring an improvement to our sacred mortal lives.

Get Art Museum | © Santiago Ribeiro
Get Art Museum | © Santiago Ribeiro

You can see Santiago’s Butterflies painting on display until the 20th February at Get Art Museum.