Feeling at Home with the Naïve Art of mel duARTE
A honey bee’s love for simplicity, home, cats, flowers, and mandalas
It was Van Gogh who did it. In 2004, Melissa Duarte, better known as mel duARTE, walked into the Musée d’Orsay in Paris and was immediately lifted into excitement by the vibrant colors of the Dutch, post-impressionist painter, Van Gogh. “His colors impregnated me with so much emotion that I decided I would be an artist, even if I would never make money from it, even if I died in misery or had my ear cut off. All that mattered since then was painting!”
“…even if I died in misery or had my ear cut off. All that mattered, since then was painting!”
Van Gogh to Cats
Her heart was so filled with the motivation to create, that within the same week she bought all the necessary materials and started painting Van Gogh’s “Café Terrace at Night”. That was followed later by “The Fishing Boats at Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer”, and her very own first original oil painting, “Sleeping Cats”, even though she had never been formally trained.
Achieving the beauty of Van Gogh’s brushstrokes inspired her to explore her own style, with the help of YouTube and the internet as her teachers. As she developed her technique, she found a liking to acrylic paints and cats as the subjects of her art. She would often bring them home off the streets of Brazil, following in the steps of her mother who she sees as a protector of animals. The idea of protecting animals and nature is something she hopes to bring people’s attention to in her upcoming pieces.
Home is Where the Art Is
Mel’s art has been described by her loving fans as eclectic, crazy, and naïve. Naïve art, known for its “childlike simplicity and frankness” is quite popular in Brazil — mel’s place of birth on the beautiful island of Florianópolis.
Although she currently resides in Lorsch in Hessen, Germany, memories of Brazil remain etched into her mind. Her motto of simplicity, the bright colors and shapes, objects from the house, the floral dresses worn, a bedspread gifted from her godmother made from the remains of fabric in Brazilian “Fuxico” style — these are what inspire the childlike simplicity in mel’s art. Her subjects which include: houses, flowers, birds, cats, and other animals in her digitally illustrated collage pieces which shine like a ray of light through the window of a cozy home surrounded by a flower garden.
Meant to Bee
Mel practically lives her art physically and virtually. She is currently renovating her home, and often tends to her tomato plants, herbs, and flowers, especially for the bees. Even her name, “Melissa” means “bee” in Greek. In Portuguese, her native language, “Mel” means honey and “Duarte” has a reference to art.
Recently she started a 3D project in SketchUp of the house she and her husband want to build. She has even bought a parcel on Cryptovoxels and has her eyes on an Oculus to initiate the construction of her gallery. Loving her work as if it were a hobby, she continues to be a busy bee in both the physical and virtual worlds.
Top Selling Pieces
Centerpiece Strikes a Balance
In mel’s centerpiece, “Isis, the little Honeybee”, her goal is to strike a balance through the beauty of art — creating moving mandalas to balance our spirit and therefore the spirit to balance nature.
The mandalas in her featured work are inspired by the physical art she creates with kirigamis — the Japanese art of paper-cutting. Little by little she has transferred this process to mandalas made completely with the vector software Inkscape, where she make the cuts of her own digital “papers”. She then takes them into Synfig to animate them, finishing the work with Gimp and Photoshop.
Follow the honey bee through mel duARTE’s piece…
This piece and mel duARTE’s complete collection is being shown at the MakersPlace VR Art Gallery in Cryptovoxels until March 3rd, 2020.
• “Can Blockchain Save the Bees?” exhibited at ETHDenver 2020 and auctioned on OpenSea
• Exhibited in several galleries throughout Cryptovoxels