Pedro Sousa Louro is one of the most talked-about LGBTQ artists at the moment. The Portuguese born painter is exciting the art world with his blend of styles and fresh take on painting.
Educated at the Chelsea College of Arts in London, Pedro’s work caught the attention of many at the prestigious Kunstmesse art fair in Germany last year. He is also among the headliners at the START art show this autumn at the Saatchi Gallery. Our very own art connoisseur, Steven Smith, catches up with him at his studio in Wimbledon.
Do you remember the first painting you ever did and what made you want to become an artist?
I was fascinated by Greek and Roman statues, especially the beauty of the naked form and the stillness from an early age. It caused quite a stir when my first drawing at school was a statue, and some teachers were not impressed, though others thought it was great. Of course, my style at the time was hardly refined, and to some eyes, it may have looked like mischief-making.
Either way, art captured my imagination from an early age and creating images was something that excited me. So, becoming an artist was something that has always been at the forefront of my life.
Who in the art world influences you?
Francis Bacon and Picasso, as well as Dame Rachel Whiteread and Robert Rauschenberg. Art is always a personal thing, and these artists really speak to me. When I am looking at their work, it moves me and inspires me to create.
What training did you do to become an artist?
I graduated with an Arts degree from the Chelsea College of Arts in 1998. Two decades later, I graduated from the Kensington and Chelsea Art College in Abstract Expressionism and Abstract Vision.
Your work has been shown all over Europe, and you are appearing later this year at START in the Saatchi Gallery London. Can you tell us a little about START and do your audiences differ from country to country?
It is my first time exhibiting at the Saatchi Gallery and START Art Fair in London. The timing could not be better. It is an honour to be a part of this prestigious event and a chance to network with new artists as well as established ones. The fair is a global gathering of artists and gives new talent a chance to show their work.
Last year my work was shown at the fifth Kunstmesse art fair in Leipzig, Germany. I do not think that the audiences differ. In every show that I have been a part of, people have been enthusiastic and inspiring.
What advice would you give to a young artist starting out?
It is not easy at all to be an artist seeking recognition, especially in these modern ages, where social media platforms are making a colossal and gigantic difference in the careers of artists. I’m one of them! I want to be recognised by the public and by the established art scene. I want my artwork and my abstract visual language on our new modern living expressionism to be taken seriously as another important artist legacy and statement. The advice is only one. Don’t stop working even in times when it seems you aren’t going anywhere. If we don’t stop working, we’ll arrive somewhere, and that is inevitable. If you don’t stop creating you will arrive somewhere – a good place or a not-so-good place – but you’ll arrive somewhere!
How do you think COVID has affected the arts and LGBTQ community in general?
I have seen artists, where I have my studio, for instance, leaving their studios because they cannot afford the rent or because they have lost their other jobs, the direct income support of their lives. It is unfortunately sad, but on the other side, I have seen so many artists making sales over the internet and on social media platforms. Some of them did exceptionally well.
Do you think that with apps like Grindr and Scruff being so popular, romance is dying?
Inevitably, yes. The technology of these sex and social apps on our phones completely eradicate so many vital personal elements of each one of us. From educational factors to responsible factors and so on, this new way of interaction between us has changed so profoundly that romance has become an old-fashioned item, not even vintage!
Some of our best British artists have been LGBTQ, from Francis Bacon, David Hockney to sculptress Maggie Hambling. How much does your sexuality influence your artwork?
I have heard so many different views and opinions about my work being too connected with my sexuality. There are people from galleries from the art world itself, saying that it is 100% related to and influenced by my sexuality. I just let them talk and say what they want.
I would say between 50% to 70% is undoubtedly associated with my sexuality. But there are quite significant elements which come from my art studies and the art research that I attach to my creativity.
How does your family feel about your work?
My parents still live in Portugal. My dad is the silent type, and my mum is vocal about her love of my art. They are both proud. My sister lives in Oxford, and she is a huge fan, I am hoping she will be at START. I am one of six children, and we are all proud of one another.
What would you like to see happening in the art world in the future?
I would like to see myself happening more, actually. I would like to see myself coming out as a more established artist, flourishing and gaining recognition worldwide. Yes, it’s all about me! Well, why not?
Your favourite restaurant in London?
Right now, Sexy Fish in Mayfair. Amazing Asiatic food.
The one thing you find to be a turn off in others?
Their selfish, cynical side that makes them think they can always get away without doing the work.
The most romantic place in London?
I think London is a very romantic city, but for me, Chelsea Embankment is a more private environment. It is so romantic.
What is one thing you would change about London if you were the mayor for a day?
As Mayor of London for just one day, I think I would want to make all galleries and transport free .
What is your favourite film?
Well, I used to have a favourite film, The Bridges of Madison County with Meryl Streep, but now I have so many. So, now anything with Cate Blanchett for me is a good movie. She is my new obsession!