Ferjo – Surrealist Artist

Brazilian-born artist Ferjo has a surrealist style that makes his work as diverse as the items floating in his artwork.

Brazilian-born artist Ferjo has a surrealist style that makes his work as diverse as the items floating in his artwork.

“A teacher at my school told me I had something that nobody had —this ability to paint portraits and landscapes,” Ferjo says. “It’s more difficult because there are millions of artists who paint classically. That’s why I paint ‘dream and reality.’ There’s almost a classical theme and, at the same time, it’s a dream when you look at it.”

Born Fernando de Jesus Oliveira, Ferjo was raised in São Paulo, Brazil, where his artistic skills were recognized early on. In 1974, the young artist was invited to attend the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts on an exchange program after being commissioned to produce a portrait of an American family. Ferjo considers his time in school beneficial but believes true artistic talent comes from within.

“No school can make a musician or an artist,” he says. “But the school gave me a lot of experience and skill to face the world today.”
After graduation, Ferjo toured Europe, and by the 1980s he had established a distinct style and fallen in love with a woman Leonardo Da Vinci may have loved as well.

“I have a fascination for Mona Lisa, and I’ve been painting her since the 1980s,” he says. “I have 136 Mona Lisas, some of them in museums in Germany, Brazil, and the United States.”

Throughout this ongoing series, Ferjo has painted Mona Lisa in many styles and situations, ranging from depictions of her as a young, Italian beauty modeling a swimsuit to the famed lady wearing traditional Brazilian garb. But each portrait is, without question, the distinct and vibrant result of Ferjo’s vivid Surrealist-Realistic style heightened by pure emotion.

After a stint producing portraits for the Brazilian Board of Tourism, he left his country to take up permanent residence in the United States, where he joined forces with publisher Katherina Perry in 1994.

His now comprehensive body of work is diverse in both subject matter and the type of media employed.

“I always love to paint everything. I think artists should have an open mind, so everything I see in front of me, I paint,” says Ferjo, who has now depicted subject matters ranging from cars, animals and other wildlife to turn-of-the-century settings and vintage items.

Like many great contemporary painters, influences from Dali and Picasso, among other Masters, are evident in his art, but Ferjo takes it a step further in a series dedicated to the artists in which their famous works appear as paintings on the walls of his surreal worlds.

“Those are the artists that inspire me, and I pay tribute to them,” he says. “I put their paint in my paint.”

When the artist approaches a piece, whether it is of a car or an intricate room with a Chagall hanging on the wall, he starts with a pencil sketch. Acrylic paint follows, and he then uses oil to finish the piece.

“The acrylics are more important to me because I can feel the paint,” Ferjo says.

Ferjo boasts experience in texture and mixed media, starting with his experimentation as a young artist in Brazil. Ferjo has also painted on wine bottles and mannequins, turning things that would be considered “castoffs” into artwork.

The artist is pleased to have steady work in a field that he loves.

Ferjo’s dedication to his art is what keeps him afloat. He shows no signs of quitting soon.


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