Technical achievements in art not only in painting, but also in sculpture, music, theater, dance, film and architecture-are given considerable respect by the general public. Viewers, who may not hold an art history degree or who possess little knowledge about art, appreciate those works, which show evidence of an artist’s technical ability. Whether it is color, form, shape, line, composition or content, most viewers admire works or art primarily from a technical point of view.
Born in Bahia, Brazil in 1946, Fernando de Jesus Oliveira (a.k.a. Ferjo) has become one of most versatile and commercially successful artists of recent years. From 1974-79, Ferjo trained at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts-an institution long-recognized for it’s tradition in realist painting and sculpture. During this five-year period, he began painting cubist-style landscapes in the tradition of the early George Bruck eventually moving to realist portraiture. This is perhaps best exemplified in a mock group portrait 1978 -1979 of the faculty of the Pennsylvania Academy in which the artist posed the subjects in sitting positions resembling those of Leonardo da Vinci’s lust supper.
Having received special honors on two occasions from the Pennsylvania Academy in 1978 and again in 1979 Ferjo’s mastery of the media and subject matter in realist painting became widely recognized in galleries that emphasized this kind of work. Since leaving the academy the artist’s technical virtuosity let him to explore various themes and styles ranging from realism to surrealism. His widely lyrical interpretation famous artistic motives such the works by Leonardo da Vinci or his homage series to important historical figures such a Picasso, Van Gogh and Chagall have made Ferjo an artist of merit.
Those with background in the arts will recognize in Ferjo an artist who can draw, render and paint with an extraordinary life-likeness, His ability to paint realistically and then to extend realism into a hallucinogenic surrealist vision, filled with symbolic connotations taken from the world of dreams and phantasmagoria, is one of the more startling attributes to be found in the recent paintings. Whether Ferjo is representing automobiles or portraits still life arrangements or sports events imaginary or life like portraits there is convincing evidence of his talent as a technical of painting. There is also evidence of the artist’s versatile and shifting imagination as he moves with considerable agility from one motive to another often-shifting styles in the process.
Ferjo creates a kind of magic in his paintings in some ways this magic is over determined, calculated, fraught with unchecked desire. Yet through these magical compositions one may get the sense of another world determined by the artists magic, a world of irrational occurrences where objects float above the floor, where walls disappear, where translucent bubbles are suspended in space, where the laws of prospective and scale are utterly defined. Ferjo has the painterly and graphic precision to make these acts of irrationality appear strangely out of sync. Yet the lack of synchronicity is part of artist’s manipulation. Just as Don Juan manipulates the desires of others through the projection of his own desire, so Ferjo manipulates non-functional space and lost avenues of time, often making sentimental and illogical formulations. Desire and hallucination collide to a weird cornucopia of images.