In Focus: Marco Prado

After moving to Philadelphia in 2018 by way of Arizona, New York, London, and his native Brazil, Marco Prado was able to finally find the time to become what he always dreamed of: a painter.

Marco, a therapist who incorporates a variety of mind and body techniques into his professional practice, has long thought of himself as an artistic person, and his background his early studies in architecture and his more recent experimentations with photography and digital manipulation show that to be more than true. Moving to Philadelphia’s Queen Village neighborhood with his partner left time him with a smaller client base, and, as a corollary, more free time to explore art.

“I said, ‘OK, now I have time.’ I’ve always wanted to study art properly or at least be in a class setting,” Marco said when we interviewed him earlier this week. “I wanted to study painting to get out of my comfort zone. I still have that dream of becoming a painter.”

His first few painting classes at Fleisher, he says, were a trial by fire of sorts. Many of his colleagues already had some level of skill, but “I had nothing, but I was willing to do anything,” he said with a laugh. Marco quickly became more comfortable working with paint and his keen interest in abstract painting eventually led him to Doah Lee’s Abstract and Intuitive Painting class. It was there that he created Window of Dreams, which received first place in Fleisher’s Annual Adult Student Exhibition’s abstract painting prize category.

The painting is based on memories Marco has of growing up along the sea in the Brazilian port city of Santos, not far from São Paulo. In it, two figures represent Marco and his mother, who regularly looked out over the water from a window in their home while discussing his dreams of travel, his hopes, and anything else life might have in store for him.

“When I started making the painting, it wasn’t my first intention,” Marco said. “But as I started to progress, the idea came to me to have a creative representation of that moment.”

Perhaps one of the most striking elements of the work is the window itself, which Marco procured from an unlikely source. A friend of his, a Japanese artist based in Arizona, sent him several pieces of artwork as a gift. They arrived wrapped in paper covered in sketches and paint and, Marco said, “I loved the wrapping paper, and it became my inspiration for the window.” The figures themselves are based on Marco’s interest in Japanese art and love of Modigliani’s trademark elongated necks.

Marco’s mother is now 99 – she traveled to Philadelphia on her own last year to celebrate her birthday – and is facing the challenges of the coronavirus on her own in Brazil. The two speak regularly and, together, are keeping a diary of her daily exercise and activities. In Philadelphia, Marco continues to create art and experiment with digital drawing and photography apps on his phone and iPad. He posts new work regularly on his Instagram account, @vastumarco.

Since the coronavirus led to the cancellation of one of the Annual Adult Student Exhibition reception and prize ceremony, in which we celebrate the achievements of our adult students, we are highlighting a number of the exhibition’s prize winners each week. The series, In Focus, will run through the spring.

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