The Artist

Luis Bitencourt lives and works in Washington, D.C. and in Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro. Originally a Mathematician and a Doctor in Political Science, Luis likes to say that he would rather be a painter. Self-taught, he has been drawing and painting in oil and acrylic for over 40 years. His style is bold and colorful; mixing his Brazilian heritage and American influences and ranging from figurative to abstract.

As he says, Luis paints for pleasure: “I was perhaps five years old when my love for painting began. I found a box of oil painting tubes in a storage room and used up all of them to paint my cherished tricycle. It was, of course, a disaster particularly considering that oil paint does not dry quickly and I had then decided to ride somewhere on my freshly painted multicolored tricycle. I am sure that Mom was not very happy with the artistic appearance of my clothes and of the tricycle. But, I am almost certain it would have been considered a masterpiece by many modern artists.”

Despite that unfortunate beginning Luis has never stopped painting and drawing on anything he can get his hands on, from napkins and notebooks to canvases.

“Painting makes me happy,” he explains.

“When asked about my style, I do have some difficulty describing it because during my self-learning journey I was influenced by so many artists, styles, and histories.”

The style is certainly not academic. And it is not completely abstract, at least with respect to most of his works. But there seems to be a consistency throughout many years that reveals his aspiration to evoke emotions from the shapes and colors.

“A couple of years ago, I rediscovered acrylics and began using them, initially for personal comfort. Oil is friendlier and warmer, but it also requires longer drying time, which creates a big storage problem for small studios. Acrylics dry much faster and do not allow for much correction. As a result, spontaneity emerges. Besides, acrylics have evolved tremendously over the last few decades. I am sure I’ll go back to oil… someday. I have come to realize that I do not make these decisions based on a thoughtful project or careful planning. And I am rather surprised, eventually, to find myself already working with different media.”

Luis Bitencourt also likes to paint big, in large canvases and categorizes his works in periods dominated by specific influences. A decade ago, he produced a series of oils inspired by “Encounters,” under the philosophical influence of Baruch Spinoza’s idea that one can think of his or her life based on the encounters he or she had along the way. Indeed, most of Luis’s works on the period can be viewed as encounters even with the self.

More recently, Luis has been thinking, and painting, under the idea that “Visions” have a critical importance in life. A perception of what is around us, and particularly, of what could be around us has produced extraordinary changes in human lives. And Luis strives to capture it in his most recent artworks, by portraying personalities, such as Mandela, Lincoln, Kennedy, or Madre Teresa, who have inspired change based on their strong visions of life; or by depicting ordinary scenes through “visionary” lenses. All in all, his style is remarkable and peculiar.