Images below left to right: Romero Britto, “A New Day,” Portrait of Ava Roosevelt, “The Clown,” “Mona Cat,” “Great Coffee,”
By Robin Jay
It’s everywhere you look. If you don’t know his name per se, there’s not a chance you haven’t seen the vibrant, iconic, Picassoesque pop art of Brazilian-born Romero Britto.
The colorful cubism style of now Miami-based Britto adorns handbags and posters and product labels, and – well – most anything that’s possibly imprintable. (In fact, at this very moment as I type, my keyboard is resting on a Romero Britto mat given to me by publisher Jayne Hammond.) As internationally notable as Britto’s work is today, it’s ironic that his art was discovered merely by happenstance. In 1988, the founder of Absolut Vodka’s Absolut Art Campaign strolled by the artist’s first studio in Coconut Grove. Michel Roux stopped in his tracks. After a long gaze at the paintings in the window, he entered the workroom and offered Britto the opportunity of a lifetime: to reinterpret the famous Absolut Vodka bottle through his art. It was an absolute (yes, pun intended) dream-come-true for this self-taught artist whose first canvases were newspapers.
AGENT FOR POSITIVE CHANGE
Since receiving universal recognition for his work at Absolut, Britto has created corporate artwork for BMW, Disney, Pepsi, Royal Caribbean and the United Nations, just to name-drop a few. Patrons have viewed his exuberant and heartwarming work in galleries throughout 100 countries, and his art inspires smiles at Miami Children’s Hospital, Kennedy Airport in New York, the O2 Dome in Berlin, Hyde Park in London and in children’s books published by Simon and Schuster.
South Florida Opulence recently spoke with Britto about his lifelong passion for art:
SFO: Romero, you’ve said that French artist Henri Matisse influenced you as an artist. What inspired you most about his work?
Britto: Matisse colors inspire me – his compositions and subject matters do, as well.
SFO: Your work has become iconic in America – it’s instantly identifiable throughout the world. What is it about your style that has given your work such universal appeal?
Britto: I think my vocabulary and language that I communicate and share with everyone [through my art] is universal; everyone can understand. What I talk about is peace and love. And the world wants that, so this is our common ground.
SFO: What inspired you to make your home in Miami?
Britto: Miami reminds me so much of Recife [my hometown in Brazil]; both cities are on the Atlantic Ocean, both cities are sunny year-round. So I love Miami. The city has embraced me and supported my art so much. I owe so much to Miami.
SFO: How would your Mom have described you as a child?
Britto: When my mother was alive, she used to say that my art was the happiest art in the world and the most beautiful, too. But as you know, all mothers love what their children do. She was so supportive of me.
SFO: What’s next for fans of Romero Britto?
Britto: Right now, I’m developing my portraits collection. All these pieces are telling a story about the collector and about me. It is a great collaboration. In 2012, I did the portrait of Queen Elizabeth celebrating her Jubilee, and I’m so honored that my art is part of her collection. I also did the portrait of Princess Madeleine and Crown Princess Mary of Denmark! Bravo Mr. Britto. It’s an honor to have you and your gallery in Miami Beach. Like to see a selection of Britto’s original artwork? Visit his gallery on Lincoln Road in South Beach.