We are mega happy that celebrated Bahian artist, Ananda Nahu, has designed a new label for Abelha, which will be available from mid June. Ananda comes from the small countryside town of Juazeiro, in Bahia. Ananda has painted her intricate, vibrant art on walls all over the state of Bahia before moving to Rio de Janeiro gaining nationwide recognition. Ananda is set for higher ground still as she heads to New York for a two months residency this summer, where she plans to paint her art all over Brooklyn’s walls. Watch out Brooklyn! And has also been commissioned to create a special artwork for the NIKE store in Leblon, Rio de Janeiro celebrating the 2016 Rio Olympic games.
Before all this, Ananda joins us in the UK for the very special launch of her Abelha Silver label and to paint her very first mural in the UK during the Vamos! Festival, in Newcastle. Here we post her a few easy questions for starters:
So, how did it all start for you?
I was a kid who loved to draw, as far as I can remember, I was always drawing. It was a natural thing for me to want to study art. I moved from my hometown, Juazeiro, to Salvador in 2001 and started attending the College of Design and in 2004 I began to study at the Fine Arts School from the Federal University of Bahia.
At this point, I was really interested in studying photography, Fine Arts Paintings and engravings, specially lithography, Serigraphs, metal engraving. It wasn’t in the plans working with street art.
So street art was something that came later?
Yes, it was something that happened later in my life, when I met my husband (artist Rodrigo Izolag). Being a woman, you know, it was hard to go to the streets to paint on my own, and he introduced me to this world, and I got instantly hooked. And we started working in partnership.
In 2005, I began using stencil to create wall arts, one of the oldest type of engraving, that is leaked into the mold to obtain shapes and pictures. I started painting all over Bahia, from small cities to bigger ones and my name started to get recognition.
The main subject of your art is usually portraits of women, and the use of very intricate patterns…
Yes, I love portraying women! Strong women, is a subject that is very dear to me. Plus I’ve always been very close to the hip hop culture and that is something that shows as well in my work. I love working with stencils for the portraits and then adding unique free hand paintings on the backgrounds for each art.
And how was the process for the creation of Abelha Label?
It was a challenge! It was the first time I created a special art for a label, and used such a small canvas (laughs). So I had to go from big murals to this small space for creating. But I wanted to keep as close as I could to my traditional art. And I wanted to represent Bahia in a feminine way, and all its vibrancy and colours. Hopefully I manage to do it! (laughs)
Are you a cachaça fan?
I moved to Rio de Janeiro in 2007, but until this day, whenever we go to Bahia, we always bring home bottles of cachaça from very small producers, that nodoby else knows! Bahia cachaça is very good.
If you could remember one highlight in your career, what would it be?
I will have to say the artistic residency I spent doing in NY. My husband and I did a very productive partnership with USA based photographer Rick Flores, and used his portraits to create stencils representing people from the Bronx and Brooklyn area. We stayed there painting walls and working close with the communities for a month and it was a very immersive experience.
What is your expectation coming to London?
We’ll Im super anxious! (laughs) I’m dying to see the result of my work on the labels and the response of the people! I hope everyone likes it!