Fabio Andrade

Fabio Andrade

Fabio Andrade

My name is Fabio Henrique Dinas de Andrade.  I am 37 years old, married to Jacqueline and have one son, Raúl, and one daughter, Raquel.  I was born on the 10th of March 1983 in the city of Leme in the centre of São Paulo – a city of 100 thousand people, 800km from the capital, Brasilia.  I am a professor of art, educational psychology and ethnography by profession and a light painter as a hobby / skill.

My participation in this artform started quite early.  I am lucky enough to have a lot of cousins in the same age group as me and, ever since we were young, we used to play together.  A few of them were able to draw really well and I learnt a lot from them.  Equally, from the age of 7 I started collecting cigarette brands for no other reason than that I liked the typography, the logos, the colours.  I used to redesign the brands and reproduce them in pencil and collecting them is still something I do to this day.  As far as I can remember, that was the first point I started getting heavily into images.

At the age of 10 I got hold of my first camera, a simple analogue Kodak which I still own to this day and, what is more, still functions!  With this camera I learnt the basics of photography from a friend, Max Pereira, who lives in Germany nowadays.  Max used to have a studio close to my father’s shop and it was there that I learnt techniques, about how to use light, how to develop film and how to value each photograph as a memory, planning each shot in advance

At the age of 14 I took my first art classes with the artist Regiane Bueno, nowadays a good friend and godmother to my children, and in those drawing classes I first met Jacque.  From Regiane I learnt drawing techniques, to have a sharper perception and learnt a lot more about art.  At that time I was selling portrait drawings on commission and doing cartoons / caricatures in the local squares and restaurants and it was during that time I decided I wanted to be an artist.

In 2002, when I was 19 years old, I found out about light painting when I was working in a marketing agency.  I loved the possibilities afforded by using light as a medium for drawing so I started to read more about it and look for other references.  The thing that caught my attention, rather than the end result itself, was the process of experimentation – much like the “everyday movements” of Frank Gilbreth in 1914, Wynn Bullock’s abstracts of 1930 or the “space writing” of Man Ray.

These references helped me to see lightpainting much more as drawing than photography, since it depends on a conscious spatial interaction between the hands, arms and body.  I really wanted to get into painting with light, but at that point I only had a 1.3 Megapixel pocket camera with no option to manually lock the shutter open. 

I started my career in social communication in 2006, where I had the opportunity to practice light painting using one of the universities lab cameras, which I was able to use in a studio with controlled lighting. It was the perfect environment to practice light painting and learn the relationship between drawing and photography.

I 2007 I worked as a photographer at República Lago, a holiday camp in the city of Leme and I used light painting as an activity with both younger children and teenagers in a playful way that involved group interaction, games, recreation and the creation of ideas within a group.  Involving children in the process of light painting was very important in my process of learning how to paint with light.  At this point I bought my first DSLR camera – a Canon 30D – and an 18/55mm lens.  It was the first point at which I could start taking the ideas I had down on paper and turning them into drawings in time and space

In 2009, I graduated in social communication, opened my studio and started to use light painting in essays and photographic events.  In 2010 I moved to Piracicaba, a city with 400k inhabitants and a city which both values artistic expression and is very open to new artforms – it was the ideal environment to explore light painting as an innovative artform, both culturally and commercially.

In 2012 I received my licence in educational psychology and fell in love with the functioning of the brain and the activities that can be developed to stimulate the mind and behaviour.  I could visualise applications for light painting as a tool in education and as an artistic therapy, thanks to the stimulation that painting with light provoked in the body and mind. 

That same year I took part in the program Faustão which was transmitted by Rede Globo – it was the first time that light painting had been shown on broadcast television in Brazil

The studio was converted into a school, with courses on photography and light painting.  It was that year that I first learnt about LPWA (light painting world alliance) and, from there, I started looking for reference artists worldwide, analysing techniques, accessories, compositions, language and I also started getting in contact with other light painters in Europe, Africa, Asia and the whole of America.

I became a professor in the Social Communication course, teaching photography, history of art, creativity, behaviour, art direction and theories of communication across 3 universities.  In each of those disciplines I created educational activities with light painting in classes which specifically covered it as a subject. It was a significant challenge to turn my knowledge of light painting into a method, and adapt the method to the student, so that everyone was capable of learning in their own way, in their own time, in their own space and were able to reflect, on their own, on the images they were creating.

From my experiences with this I believe that the activity of light painting in time and space can be applied pedagogically in any situation and environment where there is a teaching / learning relationship.

In 2015 I was invited back to another TV program on Rede Globo and I did some live light painting with the presenter, Ana Maria Braga and the actress Glória Pires, and the reception for this program was much bigger than last time – as many universities, schools, institutes and cultural collectives already knew a bit more about light painting.  I travelled to several different states, gave talks and workshops and took part in conferences about mental health.  Through those trips I was lucky enough to get to know many people and received pointers to reference artworks which contributed to my perception of light painting as something bigger. A “whole” which I still have not quite understood.

As such, I started to study light painting as a form of art which could join together the other 11 artistic languages (music, dance, painting, sculpture, theatre, literature, cinema, photography, animation, games and digital art).  Through these experiences, I created my own tools, processes and activities which included light painting in all these artistic languages and, based on this concept, I founded the Twelfth Art Project (XII Proyecto de Arte).

Shortly afterwards, 2016 arrived. This was an unforgettable year for a number of reasons.  A great memory from that time was when I received the annual prize for Visual Arts and Photography from the city of Piracicaba, for the work I had done in lightpainting in both 2015 and 2016.  Shortly after that my wife, who was working as a nurse in a health unit was threatened.  We had already had our first child by that point so we decided, for the sake of her safety and that of our child, to return to the city of our birth.

Back in Leme I tried to adapt to our new situation.  I started to publicise the projects that I had developed in collaboration with the local council.  I ran light painting workshops with 10 year old children in a public school, teenage offenders in a rehabilitation project and with elderly people within old people’s homes, all at the same time, over a period of 6 months.  It was the first time that I had used solely light painting as the main artistic language in my classes and these three classes, with completely different age groups and in different environments, oriented towards education, culture, rehabilitation and art therapy form the basis of what I study nowdays.

At the end of 2016 I became a full member of LPWA to be able to keep up more closely with what was happening in the world of light painting, as well as to be able to grow my network of contacts with similar interests.

In 2017, I was invited by Light Art Digital magazine, a Mexican publication, to write an article about my investigations and observations about light painting and art therapy, focused on how it could be used for Alzheimers and depression. As a result of this publication I started sharing my experiences with other light painters from around the worlds, but also with other professors of art, educational psychology and art therapy.

In 2018 I was lucky enough to be able to represent Brasil in the first ever International Day of Light Painting, where I could exhibit and show local culture in collaboration with the the Associação de Máscaras do Cresciumal – with a set of photos produced in the cemetery and the municipal forest.  I also presented images and observations regarding classes on art therapy with elderly people, in collaboration with the project “Rescue Memories” run by Thainá Moreira in Pocos de Caldas, Minas Gerais. 

In 2020, with the pandemic as a background, together with Ana Grynfogiel, we took part in the competition run by Light Painting Paradise and were lucky enough to win the first price and gain a lot of recognition from people who were not aware of the 12th Art Project and from whom we have gained knowledge, new friendships and experiences.

At present I am studying the effects of light painting on the mind and body as a way of alleviating ailments and disorders across all age groups.  On top of that I am creating tools and activities for children’s education in the field of the visual arts.  Finally, I am looking to include light painting in a commercial environment, amongst photographers and other visual artists, as a way to stimulate creativity and imagination.

What do you like most about lightpainting?

The thing which attracts me most about light painting is the community spirit, the ability to create together as a group and the interchange of ideas.  The exploration and discovery of unusual scenarios with the ability to transform the visible reality.  That ability to transform what is really there amazes me.

And Least?

What probably upsets me most is more of a cultural issue which is the inherent prejudices against new art forms and languages, in terms of the acceptance of light painting by governments and companies.  This slows down he development of the art form and the integration of new trends in art which are common in various countries.

How do you tend to develop your projects?

My projects are divided into three sections:

1. Light painting and education – I develop playful activities for children and adolescents with disabilities and disorder such as ADHD, panic attacks, autism and internet addiction.  The light painting workshops I look to develop both physical and cognitive abilities, focusing on mental health and inclusive social relationships.  At university I develop tools for the study of light and symbols through light painting for students of social communication, photography, design, pedagogy and psychology.

2. Light painting and art therapy – this is a project I developed as occupational therapy in collaboration with institutes, aimed at the elderly.  The focus is on physical rejuvenation and the revival of cognitive abilities, memory, nostalgia, motivation and joy.

3.Light painting and art therapy – this is a project I developed as occupational therapy in collaboration with institutes, aimed at the elderly.  The focus is on physical rejuvenation and the revival of cognitive abilities, memory, nostalgia, motivation and joy.

What are you looking to say with your photography?

Images which I believe can be interpreted almost automatically.  I use simple and universal symbols so that every viewer of the images has the ability to interpret them according to his or her convictions and principles.  In the majority of my creations I include I include elements of a philosophical, political, historical or simply fantastical nature.

I try to use my images to share my point of view about the issues which permeate society: the pain, corruption, authoritarianism, inequality, etc.  I think it is important to make an image to show what can be difficult to verbalize.

What has been your biggest photographic challenge or the photo which was hardest for you to achieve?

Technically speaking my most difficult photo was painting a coloured eye on a white wall.  It took a 6 minute exposure and changing colours throughout the process to achieve

Which photographers, light painters and / or other artists have influenced you?  

Through my process of learning and creation I have various references in different visual languages.  In terms of classical painting: Miguel Angel, Caravaggio, Rubens, Rembrandt, Escher, Goya, Hopper, Dali, Magritte, Max Ernst, Delacroix, Jaques-Louis David and Bernini amongst others.

In terms of light painting references, I am a big fan of figurative artists such as Pedro Javier, Hannu Huhtamo, Darius Twin, Frodo, Diana Ponce, Frederic Leroux, Maria Saggese, Janne Parviainen, Pala Teth, Michael Bosancko, Gunnar Heilmann, Carles Calero, Nikolay Trebukhin, Luis Kuziw, Mack Murdoc amongst others.

Which 3 tools do you always take with you?

It is very hard to choose only 3!  I’m a big fan of a tool which I invented to create “light people”.  It is a LED array that I use a lot as I like to include a human figure in my photos.  Another accessory is a flashlight with orange cellophane attached which I use to create fiery effects in my photos.  Finally, I always bring black cloth with me to be able to create levitation effects.

Have you experienced any memorable moments whilst doing light painting?

One day which sticks in my mind was the photos I tool with a blind man in an old people’s home.  He was 60 years old and had lost his site at age 40 and, during the workshop with other people, he was able to draw brilliantly in space, with precise lines and shapes that were very easy to interpret.  It was the first time that I had seen a disability being transformed into a virtue that provided motivation, self-esteem and joy.

If you could only keep one photography, which would it be and why?

The photo I would keep records the first time my son played with lightpainting with me – he was two years old at the time.  This image reminds me how excited he was when he managed to create a spiral of light and it reminds me of when I started to paint with light and everything that has happened since that day.  I think it is important to try to maintain that sense of wonder with simple things that children have.

What advice would you give to new light painters?

I believe that light painting is much more than just photography – it implies drawing and painting, mixing colours and shades of light and shadow.  These are subtleties which add to the harmony of an image.  My advice would be to study the grand masters of classical painting to absorb aesthetic references and also practice light painting with children to stimulate unusual and innovative ideas, full of simplicity and innocence.

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