October 12th, 2014 § 0 comments § permalink

The concept of this site is: i – joao – com (municate) and here is all what you need to know about me in 13 pictures before you move on:

01. I was born in an artsy family, my dad was offering engravings to my mum while she was pregnant of me. Isn’t that romantic? 1977


02. So, it was natural and logic that I ended up making engravings and printing other people’s at an early age (1981).

Joao C @ Artist's Studio

03. What interested me, however, was the business side of the arts. Brazil had more talents than art imprezarios, so I got started. Here is a painting I reluctantly negotiated when I was 13. 1990. (I wanted to have kept it in my collection).


04. I also liked to cause trouble (as I still do – this has not changed) so I asked artists to make provocative clothes for me in reference to Bill Clinton’s scandal. Some teachers did notice it was both a flame and a vagina and told me of at school. 1995

Hillary Clinton's

05. Acting in São Paulo art world was not enough. I wanted to be international. I moved to Paris, but my dad and Wesley persuaded me that London was the grand centre of the art market in Europe. (1996 I guess, strong emotions sometimes compromise memory).

06. So I moved to London and had no money, no contacts, no visa, nothing. BUT, I had faith in destiny. I quickly devised a money making cards game that allowed me to move on with my projects (2002).

Untitled 6

07. This and other creative moves got me to launch a gallery in Regent Street, with a mission of giving visibility to modern Latin American art. Creative moves continued to happen at the gallery thereafter. 2004.


08. During this stay in Europe I got to met many great artists like Jesus Soto, Armando Morales, David La Chapelle, Henry Cartier-Bresson and Takashi Murakami. Guess what? They don’t see the world as most people do… and I could learn from that. (No dates here, as these are timeless events).

09. I also negotiated paintings by artists who were no longer alive such as Frida Kahlo (in the pic), Magritte and Picasso. Well, in fact, I did not sell this particular portrait because we had doubts about its provenance. 2005.


10. But I wanted to feel intellectually connected with my time so I set up a discussion group with a new mission: help me, and others, to better understand contemporary art – 750 members, 200 events made, and counting. The group’s name? I Know What I Like. 2011.


11. In 2012 I moved to São Paulo and continued to put my ideas across. We got to say what we think. Talks were done in coordination with big players like Itau Private, Sotheby’s Institute (below), University of São Paulo, and Santander Bank. I got published on Capital Aberto, Art Democracy, Valor, Exame, and many others. 2013.


12. Most importantly, got good collections build and talents spotted too which is how I make my living. Here is a 1970’s picture by Julio Le Parc which I acquired for a client recently at a significant discount. I love helping my clients buy more for less.

Le Parc
 You know what, the truth is that I can’t stay put because deep down I think that the world is not in good order and it is our responsability to do something about it. Disseminating culture whenever we get the chance is one way of doing it (Art Industry Forum, Madrid, Arco). 2014.

2014-02-23 03.06.30
Culture is an agent of change. Culture is a navigation tool to steer human evolution towards a more universal condition. The concept of culture alone is a call to action.

But the world needs help. BADLY. So yes, if this looks like an ultimatum, a strong call to action. It is.

Your contribution is urgent.

Sem juízo 7


PS. I always had personal logos. Companies spend millions on them, don’t they? Why shouldn’t individuals who experience much deeper existential and identitarian questioning care about having one? This is my latest which was made by an artist old friend of mine.



A Personal Method, Or Just An Excuse For Fun?

February 6th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

One’s life can be seen as a collection of rich and colorful events that happened spontaneously, serendipitously, and sometimes unexpectedly. One may also choose to further enrich life’s fabric of events by responding to challenging events more actively; in this case, even charging the responses with a rebellious and unwilling to conform personality, or getting to the extent of discretely engineering some situations to allow him to step in and make a statement through such response.

I’m not compiling stories together in a single space – rather than reserving them for good conversation over a fine wine with friends – gratuitously. Seen together, they are thought of to conform a bildungsroman of sorts, a narrative constructed of snapshots that draw a picture of how “nature and nurture” or “DNA and environment” play a role in the construction of a personality. They are factually true, and so are the elements, cast of characters and scripts.

It would be strange however to think about life’s events as totally separated from one’s life philosophy or so I suppose.

Mine was, since birth completely entrenched in the artistic practice and thought around me. The idea of the bildungsroman comes from literature, and a kind of literature championed in the XVIII and XIX centuries, with Goethe’s young Werther and Stendhal’s Julien Sorel as its outmost champions. I don’t imply that my life has been infused with the myriad of misfortunes these two characters had to endure; merely that I can certainly see how our present character developed through our responses to certain events that demanded us to take a stand and act in a certain way .

This philosophy of not letting suggestive events pass before my eyes without my active reaction is something that I keep to this very day, and that is the main reason why these narratives are still important to me now.

Literature is not the only artistic source of the thinking behind this.

The other line of thought comes from the performing arts, particularly from the method created and taught by legendary director and actor Lee Strasberg. Some of my parents’ friends and their children were actors and movie directors, and during the 80s and 90s, when I spent my childhood and teenage years, Strasberg had already become the foremost theatre teacher and director before his death in 86. His teachings were paramount to this group I was daily in the company of, who at all times sought to infuse a sense of real life into the characters they played – and the reverse – if nothing else, for humor sake.

The foundation in this method of theatre placed a great deal of importance on the idea of experience. It wouldn’t only be the actor’s intention to instill the breath of life into the character, but also to get inside the experiences of the character before and after their curtain calls. My stories are for me like my own live studies of the Strasberg method.

Yes, I live my life as an art dealer but these stories shaped who I am outside my professional role and conditioned its direction.

So just as Werther’s voice was given to him by Goethe, Sorel’s voice was shaped by Stendhal or Michael Corleone’s turmoil was given life both by Puzo and Pacino, my own voice has been shaped by invitation from writers (and the visual artists who illustrated them) who have taken an interest in my own bildungsroman. What has been deeply interesting about this whole exercise is that they all have their own voices and identities as creatives, and have not only embraced me as a central character in their narrative, but have also managed to write in a single voice.

What follows, more than a symphony, is a lied where the poetic instance declared by these authors illustrate the existential context under the perspective of who is living.

Shakespeare in Sao Paulo – Part 1

February 1st, 2011 § 1 comment § permalink

Verona had its star-crossed couple. The modern megacity of São Paulo (population: almost 12 million) also had its two young lovers once. They were fugitives of the Federal Police and unwitting players in a kidnap that never really occurred.

She was the daughter of a wealthy family. Her father was part of a powerful dynasty, enriched by the profits of sugar-cane plantations in the country’s wild northeast. (Which is not to say he didn’t believe in culture: his library was lined with books, bought by the yard and with their spines intact.) Theirs was a model family: his discontented wife stayed at home, he was discreet in his visits to the local brothel, and had already found a suitably rich suitor for his only daughter, who was expected to remain as pure as freshly refined sugar until her wedding night.

I was a seventeen-year-old boy from the wrong side of the cultural tracks. In her father’s eyes, my family was of the worst sort –artists. Painters. Auctioneers. Riff-raff.

We met where most boys meet most girls –at school. Walking home after class one day, she pointed out an infamous house of assignation. “My father spends a lot of his time there,” she said. “My mother knows all about it and says nothing.” That, I concluded, must be how they do things in the northeast.

Of course, I was not in the father’s plans for his daughter. Not rich. Not from an old, catholic north-eastern family. Not good enough.

Had her father read Shakespeare, he would have known that nothing (or almost nothing) can derail the course of young love. But he hadn’t, so he didn’t. One day he took me out to lunch and made me an offer he assumed I couldn’t refuse. Fifty thousand dollars to leave his daughter alone.

Fifty thousand dollars. More money than any seventeen-year-old could imagine what to do with. I made it clear, however, that I was immune to such barbarous bribery. So he raised the stakes. He hinted that I could benefit from an open account at his favourite brothel, as long as this kept me from corrupting his daughter. “Back home,” he said, “I would have asked someone to deal with you for the price of a crate of beers. I’m making you a very generous offer. Take it.”

I did not. Instead, in a time-honoured tradition, his daughter and I eloped. What followed was part Rom-Com, part Keystone Cops, part courtroom drama. It involved police chases, secret hideaways, the complicity of friends and family, and an arrest warrant for alleged kidnap. When I was finally dragged before a judge, my accuser presented dozens of letters I had written to his daughter as evidence of my depravity.

The judge –a middle-aged woman—read them all in silence. A faint smile appeared on her face as she did so. Her fingers stroked the paper, hand-made in my grand father’s studio. Her nostrils flared almost imperceptibly as she caught a whiff of the perfumed billets-doux and the dried flowers pressed within them. Her sentence, when it came, seemed irrevocable. “I have never seen anything so beautiful. These two are meant to be together.”

So her parents relented. They even went away for a weekend, leaving us un-chaperoned for the first time. That was when she announced it was over between us. Just like that.

Which was a shame. She had always been such a sweet girl.

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October 10th, 2010 § Enter your password to view comments. § permalink

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Policemen, Top Model and Paper Flower

June 12th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

One of the legacies of Brazil’s brutal military dictatorship (1964-1988) is that most ordinary citizens have become political and politicized individuals. Another legacy is that even the smallest daily acts can turn into heroic gestures of resistance.

I was once stopped by two policemen while driving through São Paulo’s mysterious dawn with Virginia, my girlfriend at the time. She was a model. I was a young bohemian, high on the night’s urban poetry. We were interrogated brusquely, and duly searched. My hand-crafted key-holder chain, at one end of which was a Victorinox Swiss army knife, was mistaken for an improvised lethal weapon.

The police officers wanted to know why I was carrying such a device. I had to tell them the truth: origami. Their puzzlement was palpable. It was clear to me that they were unacquainted with the millenary art of paper-folding. To illustrate my point, I took a white paper square from the car and, using my knife to sharpen the creases, folded it into a snowy lily. They looked embarrassed and amused when I offered it to one of them, telling him to give it to his wife, who would always love him for it. And then they let us go. We drove off into São Paulo’s almost empty streets.

Some time later, a philosopher friend told me that the incident reminded her of the ‘60s, when protesters opposed to the Vietnam war would put flowers into the barrels of policemen’s rifles. Except, she added, that my own encounter sounded decidedly more bizarre.

I remember some of the pictures taken in 1967 at the multitudinous Pentagon demonstrations. The most famous of them, of young student Jan Rose Kasmir, was snapped by the photographer Marc Riboud. In another, a floppy-haired, turtle-necked youth calmly puts daisies into the rifles held threateningly by military police.

That connection to the ‘60s, it seems to me now, is more relevant than I realized at the time of the origami episode. While those American kids were protesting in the streets of Washington, young men and women were being rounded up by the army in the streets of Rio and São Paulo. Things would get much worse in 1968.

Although born in the ‘70s, I am, in some ways, a child of that time. My parents, after all, embodied the age’s spirit of resistance to convention better than most people I have known. One proof is in the way they decided to bring me into the world.

Above all, the unlikely outcome of that brief encounter –that strange dawn meeting of police officers, a fashion model and a folded paper flower—is a reminder that our acts always speak more eloquently than so many lofty flights of rhetoric.

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