In the Anjos area in Lisbon, going up the rua Triangulo Vermelho you come across an art gallery, or rather, an art platform, which is dedicated to the promotion of visual artists, but which, above all, has as its mission being a place of meeting and cultural and artistic exchange, of course.
We are welcomed by the two creators of this place and this project, as well as the soul of this place: Vital Lordelo Neto and Julia da Costa.
As soon as you enter, the love for art is tangible, not only for the works of different artists on the walls or in the catalogs, but above all for the atmosphere that Vital and Julia have been able to create, conveying their great passion for art and their life as artists, in this project, born concretely in 2019: Joia, “orivesaria dos sentimentos” (jewelry of sentiments)
The name derives from their first space, in the Baixa of Lisbon, which they had installed in an ancient jewelry shop and hence the idea of the name Joia (joy). But as the title of their project says, the jewels that are sold here are very special: they are the emotions that the artist transmits through their works.
But let’s get to know Vital and Julia more closely.
Vital is Brazilian, from Brasilia. He was about 20 years old, when he moves to the south of the country, to Portalegre, a place of great colonization and many cultural influences, that his career as an artist begins. He also studied for a while advertising and journalism, and he arrives in Lisbon in 2016 already with an important artist background. When he arrived in Lisbon, Vital was working on a really interesting project on feelings and emotions, conveyed through the art of illustration, on posters. The support is not accidental: the desire to use a support that is normally exhibited on the street shows his desire to communicate with people and bring art within everyone’s reach. And talking about emotions and feelings is because it is increasingly difficult to be able to express what you feel and even less to communicate it to others. Vital tells us that the pandemic has certainly made all this even more complicated and that the need to communicate with others is very relevant and the road is certainly the best stage to leave this message.
When Vital arrived in Lisbon he had already made 18 posters of the 30 which today counts the project that has been going on for nine years. And that he still has a lot to tell.
In 2019 his experience as an artist and his contact with the city of Lisbon, which Vital defines as an excellent place for meeting and exchange between cultures, led him to the idea of creating Joia. Knowing the difficulties of an artist who arrives in a new place or who decides to undertake his artistic path, the idea is to create an environment that detaches itself from a usual art gallery and that rather wants to be a concrete reference, on the territory, in which to exhibit, but also in which to be oriented.
In 2020 Julia also arrives in Joia. French from Vichy, she arrives in Portugal to learn the language in 2016. Her journey has led her on two parallel tracks, art and psychology, which today merge in her works. Julia, arrived in Lisbon, dedicates herself to a project of drawing, sketches of the city, which between the pages of a notebook comes to life in a union of words and images that gives rise to a work with which she participates in the important artistic event “Rendez-vous du carnet de voyage”. She will restart with another work the following year after an experience in New York.
But her psychology studies make themselves felt and Julia begins to create works centered on the analysis of emotions.
And it is in 2019 that the way of Julia and Vital cross. As artists first, then as life companions.
Joia’s project has grown a lot in recent years: 50 artists and 8 different countries are represented here. But the great innovation of this project is its basic idea that differentiates it from a normal art gallery. Joia is a space to grow, as Vital himself tells me.
When the project started there was no idea of transporting it on a virtual level, but also due to the pandemic the things have changed and, with the help of Julia, today Joia is a physical place, but also a virtual space, in addition to also counting with a tattoo studio, an illustration agency and an online magazine, Frestas (cracks) born during the pandemic, to ensure that from those cracks through which we had to wade into the world for months, today we can look at the art and the works of the artists here represented.
The artists in Joia’s project are all local artists, of different origins but all linked to the Lusitanian city in which they live. Joia takes care of exhibiting their works but above all she takes care of them: to guide them, to advise them.
But Joia’s message is a message that goes even further. Art first of all, as a choice of life, as a message for everyone.
What today is also a job for Vital and Julia, in reality ends up being a real mission. Their priority is art and living on art. And whoever joins this project as an artist must feel the same. There is no space for those who see art only as a pastime or as a means of making money. First of all, art must be at the center of an artist’s life, it is the artist himself who must believe that one can live in art and that one must devote oneself to art. Only those who share this thought and this way of life, they can fully appreciate this project and become part of it.
Vital and Julia live it as a real mission and dedicate themselves to this body and soul. And not only to the platform they have created and to the guidance of the artists who are part of it, but also to the dissemination of art itself.
The idea of creating this physical space is also to allow everyone to take advantage of the art they offer. Those who enter this space can enter to buy, of course, and it is always a good investment because as Vital and Julia tell us “a work of art on our walls is like a new window” that allows us to look at a different world . But others come in just to look, and that’s okay, because they will have enjoyed art anyway, even if for a moment.
Spreading art, reaching as many people as possible, because for Vital and Julia art is not the benefit of a few, but an emotion within everyone’s reach.
The choice of the type of art on display also goes with this reason: for a long time illustration was considered a minor art, and this project is committed to giving it the importance it deserves. Different types of art exhibited, different types of “supports”: from posters to postcards. Because in this way everyone can find a work that matches their tastes and also their possibilities. Julia and Vital are committed to ensuring that art is not considered an elite product, but so that all those who wish to have their work of art at home.
Even the choice of frames participates in this idea: simple, almost essential. Because the frame is not the important part. As Vital says “the support is simple, the art is noble”.
The message that Joia launches is precisely that of giving art its due importance and also making it understood that art is a job, not a fantasy or a pastime. Whoever makes art his life invests work, emotions, thoughts, time and often an artist is not considered on a par with many other works. Many times the artist himself ends up not considering himself on a par with other professions. And Vital and Julia with their project try to do it too: help to gain awareness of their work and make the world understand what lies behind an object of art.
And Vital and Julia also attach great importance to the documentation behind it, so that an artist is considered and recognized.
A full-time job that goes well beyond the opening hours of the art gallery / platform.
But Vital and Julia are not only dedicated to curating the work of others, and they continue their personal journey as artists at the same time. Vital with a project called “Vitalis”, in which he works on a heart created with various modules that can be altered in colors and positions, on which he then adds designs. The details. For a work that is new and original every time. Julia, on the other side, dedicates herself to a project that sees her two paths joined, art and psychology, and after a first comic dedicated to alcohol addiction, today she highlights the dignity of mental illness.
What to say: you will be fascinated by this place, by this project, by Julia and Vital who have made their passion a job and their work a mission.
Probably before we begin to give the right importance to art and artists for their work, we should continue to wait, but certainly Joia is a place where those who want to experience art find a reference, a place of growth, of inspiration. And for those who are only passionate about art, they will rarely find a better place to breathe deeply the sacred fire of this passion.
Joia, the jewelry of emotions: and emotions will not be lacking if you accept to let yourself be accompanied by Julia and Vital in this colorful whirlwind made of drawings, colors, words and a lot of heart.