The lines of Filipe Jardim and Higienópolis
"I'm fascinated by this moment when Brazil looks at Brazil, in modernism. In this neighborhood, specifically in Higienópolis, one could spend a lifetime drawing." READ MORE
Filipe, you grew up in Rio de Janeiro, but you have lived in several places around the world. How does this change in landscapes influence your illustrations? Do you need to be in a location to draw?
I lived in Rio de Janeiro until I was 8 years old, and then I moved to Lisbon to study fine arts at 18. As I enjoy drawing on location, in a sketchbook style, it's clear that every place you go to has differences in textures, landscapes, and smells. All of this influences me. So when you're in Lisbon, everything is different from when you're in Rio de Janeiro. Even the neighborhoods, everything is so rich that the drawing adapts to these textures, to these colors. It's not surprising that many artists move to different places to experience different lights.
Now you're established in one of the world's largest metropolises, São Paulo, in the Higienópolis neighborhood, more precisely in the Bretagne building. Why did you leave the calm of southwestern France and come to the chaos of São Paulo? Did you choose the Bretagne building? What is it like living there?
I grew up in Rio, also a metropolis, but because I grew up in the south zone, I had access to spectacular nature that was very close. I've lived in several other places, almost always in big cities. I also visited São Paulo a lot for work. I also like the influence that a metropolis has on people. The energy, the dynamism. The place where my family and I lived in France, Guéthary, near Biarritz, was lacking a bit of different textures. Human, natural landscapes. It's an incredible place for families. A place of civilization where everything works, almost the opposite of São Paulo. But I was missing "Brazil" a lot, you know? I'm Brazilian, and I wanted to identify more with things that speak to me and for me. The move to São Paulo ended up being a family idea. My wife is French, from Paris, and she wanted to experience São Paulo. Regarding the Bretagne building, I had visited several times before to see friends or work. This 1958 building by Artacho Jurado is an icon of this city. The first condominium in South America, the first to have an underground garage, a pool... I've always found this and other buildings by Artacho Jurado amazing. And my desire was since we were coming from a very calm place, to have a building with green space, water, and friends. I have many friends in Higienópolis and nearby neighborhoods, so the desire to come here was to enjoy the good things São Paulo has to offer. Architecture, culture, friends, cultural dynamism, and professionalism. And this building is incredible. It has a bar, a room just for kids, a game room, a sauna, a great staff, and amazing apartments. It's like a utopia in the city. In a city that's becoming increasingly brutal. So it's very interesting.
How is the building experienced nowadays by its residents and visitors?
Despite the building offering such an interesting common area, they say that only 20% of the residents use it. This is a common thing in other buildings too. There are discreet residents, some who never leave... there's a good side to it, if everyone went down at the same time, it would be crowded. But it's a building where a portion, that 20%, organize gatherings, parties, and even carnival blocks. The bar operates with an interesting dynamic. They have live music, drinks, it's very interesting. Maybe I'm not experiencing it intensely because I have two young daughters, so I don't get to the bohemian part so much. And there are resident artists and pianists. There's a music room with a drum set and a French piano. It's crazy. And there's also a terrace, another icon of the city. We experience as much as we can. My daughters' birthday party was held here.
How did your interest in drawing these and other famous buildings in São Paulo come about? What did you take into consideration when choosing which buildings to draw? Can you talk about your influence on modernist architecture?
I think Brazil, as a colonized country, has always been heavily influenced by dominant cultures, the European and American ones. And it was during the modernist movement that Brazil started to develop its way of seeing things. It's hard to talk about this, I would have to delve deeper. But I'm passionate about this moment when artists try to look more towards Brazil. Tarsila, Oswald de Andrade... All this movement where Brazil looks at Brazil. Of course, Brazilian modernist architecture is directly influenced by global architectural modernism, led by Corbusier, Bauhaus, etc. But these architects, Oscar Niemeyer, Vilanova Artigas, and Lúcio Costa, had a direct influence from European and American modernism and adapted it to Brazil with vegetation and landscaping, hence Burle Marx... the "cobogós"... etc. I'm fascinated by this moment, there has been a rediscovery of it in the last 20 years. And São Paulo has many, many gems from this period. I did the Louveira building, an icon of Vilanova Artigas; and also the house in Butantã by Paulo Mendes da Rocha. The integration between architecture and nature appeals to me. In this neighborhood, specifically Higienópolis, you could spend a lifetime drawing.
What's your favorite building in the Higienópolis neighborhood? Do you have an interesting story to tell from your wanderings and observations?
I'm more familiar with the facades of the buildings here, not all their interiors, but perhaps Bretagne is my favorite. It's not considered a classic modernist icon by architect standards, Artacho Jurado himself wasn't an architect, he was a developer; much of its influence comes from Miami, Hollywood-style architecture, L.A., and cinema. So it's not a classic example of modernism like Artigas or Oscar's, more pure modernism. But it offers this philosophy of coexistence, which I think sets it apart from other buildings. So besides having green areas, as I mentioned, it's also democratic. It has smaller apartments of 80/90 square meters, and also much larger ones, 200 square meters. So it provides a coexistence of people with different purchasing powers. There was my awe as a carioca, where everything is more chaotic and disorganized, and this part of São Paulo fascinated me due to this planned urbanism and the huge number of preserved modernist buildings. And also the palaces...
Do you have plans for your next destination?
At the end of the year, we are moving back to Rio de Janeiro. We're going to do the opposite of the usual trend: live in Rio and come to São Paulo to visit friends, exhibitions, and work.