josé freitascruz

Maputo, Moçambique

Portuguese artist [ painting - installation - video ] currently living and working in Moçambique.


My paintings are landscapes, as are to a certain extent the videos and installations I create to accompany them. Abstract but not imaginary, they are, in fact, very real. They tell the stories and draw the maps of my nomadic life since earliest childhood – of learning to deal with a perceived lack of roots and a constant sense of loss; of salvaging what is essential to building on that – and are made up of layers and layers of overlapping recollections and bits and pieces gathered along the way. I call them Landscapes from Nowhereland because with time I have come to realize that while feeling to belong nowhere, I am at home everywhere – Now-Here.

Ultimately, too, they tell of our relationship with our environment – our attempts to remodel it and the scars we impose, but also of nature’s regenerative power and the pockets of beauty it always manages to recreate once humans step aside.

hujan lebat

heavy rain /hujan lebat - acrylic on canson hardboard paper - 30x30cm - 2008 [Malaysia]

ipê amarelo

ipê amarelo - acrylic + mixed media on wood - 120x230cm - 2019 [Brasil]

cidade reinventada / reinvented city

Between utopia and eutopia lies the risk of dystopia. Cities reinvent themselves, they are in a constant state of flux but we are only capable of seeing and understanding this when we take a step back


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reinvented city/cidade reinventada was first shown at the Portuguese Embassy in Brasília in 2019

le chant des rizières / song from the ricefields

Le vietnamien sème le riz, le cambodgien le regarde pousser, le lao l'écoute chanter...

acrylic + mixed media on canvas [triptych] - 60 x 210cm - 2015 [Laos]

berliner blau

[inspired by ai wei wei's gendarmenmarkt installation]

acrylic + mixed media on canvas [diptych] - 60 x 120cm - 2016 [Berlin]

arashiyama in a flurry of snowflakes

acrylic on canvas - 120 x 120cm - 2013 [Japan]

nihonga - i

I lived in Osaka from 2009 to 2013. Japan is as fascinating a place as it is difficult to really access, almost impenetrable. One wanders around at first, almost bewildered by the intensity of its megalopoli and enchanted by the delicateness of its villages, temples, and shrines. Four years is not enough to truly understand the subtleties and peculiarities of such a unique culture. At the best one scratches at the surface, is attracted to certain aspects of its aesthetics and rituals, or is completely put-off by idiosyncrasies that are played out openly in public (in the end, accepting both aspects is vital to a full understanding), but as a foreigner, I doubt one can ever really go much deeper than mimicking what one sees. For this reason I was especially pleased with the reactions my work prompted in viewers who came to the exhibitions I held over the years in Osaka, Kobe, Nara and Kyoto. I was particularly touched by a comment that was voiced more than once, in various occasions and with very different paintings (both in theme and technique) – where had I learned to paint in the nihonga style? And invariably I was always at a loss for words to satisfy their curiosity because I had not, ever, had a sensei I could claim I had studied under… I was self-taught, but very observant and especially interested in capturing what I felt and communicating it in a way I hoped would be meaningful to a japanese audience – that has always been the main concern wherever I have lived: creating a visual language I hope the local audience can relate to. In such a way I free myself from my own conditioning and am forced to articulate things in a new way. It is how my painting advances.