Maria Imaginário

Text: Joana Jervell
Photos: Manuel Manso

After forays into graffiti, illustration and painting, it is today, above all, through large-scale installations that Maria Imaginário gives free rein to her creative universe. Divided between Lisbon and London, her work does not dispense with the intuitive use of colour, an essential element in her invitation to the spectator to interact with her work, whether physically or emotionally.

What kind of projects do you do? And what are clients looking for in your work?

My work is divided into self-initiated projects and commissioned work.

In my self-initiated projects I try not only to challenge the audience that follows my work and bring something new, but also to challenge myself.

More specifically in projects with clients, they look to me for my aesthetics, for the way I can contribute to affect a space in a positive way and different from the conventional one.

They are interested in an environment of great sensory stimulation, which creates an involvement of physical and cognitive interaction. An installation or a piece that creates memories, that is playful and impacts on all ages.

As my work is increasingly linked to large-scale installations, I have had many requests for that field.

Is there any particular reference that you transport to your work (and imaginary reference)?

Colours are for me one of the most important parts of my process; my work has always been defined by the palette of colours, initially in painting, although over time I have explored many different media. It is something that has always been part of my identity. Nowadays, one of the main focuses of my work is colours and the feeling they can convey.

Colour is something I work with very intuitively and quite naturally. The way I use colour is intrinsically linked to my personality and what I communicate to the public.

What can you tell us about the production of each of your works?

There are several phases. The first is to find a concept that is related to the place or audience that will interact with the work, trying to challenge it in a sensorial, emotional, or intellectual way, always keeping my identity. Then there is the production phase: the study and testing of the materials and, depending on the complexity of the project, thinking about the team that I can gather to build it and implement it with me.

Some of your most recent work is…

I did a large-scale installation with inflatables, followed by an interactive piece that was part of the Imminent Festival (Lisbon); and, recently, I was invited to be the resident artist this year at the Martinhal resort in Sagres (Algarve), for which I developed a series of tapestries related to the distortion that water causes, which I have just finished. At the same time, I have been developing self-initiated projects that I will also be releasing soon.

What do you love most about what you do?

Creating a positive emotional impact. To know that I can create emotions, interactions, engagement, stimulate the imagination of others and contribute so that, for moments, they forget where they are, forget the routine of everyday life, and allow themselves to be carried away. The viewer becomes part of my installation, is involved in it and, for a moment, forgets his/her daily context.

For me it is very important to create a relationship between the audience and the artwork. I am lucky to do what I like, for me my work is one of the most important things in my life, I feel happy not only working but also observing the interaction of others with my work.

When you’re not working, where can we find you and what will you be doing?

It’s a complicated question because honestly, I’m always working; it’s all I do, even when I’m with my friends and family, it’s an extension of my person. I’m constantly thinking about work in my head. I believe we don’t have to go to a museum to see art; for me every-thing can be art, it depends only on how we look at and interpret what surrounds us… So you can find me in parks and gardens, with my dog, in the middle of nature, or hanging out with my friends.

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