!n-Focus: Shirley Paes Leme Capturing The Allure Of Toxicity

Lit your cigarette on, slowly inhale the toxic, hold on, watch the nicotine burn then exhale joy or sorrow you kept within.

Ever since I was a child, I was fascinated by the smoke coming from cigarette, soft delegate thin grey line that transforms into random figures before disappearing or vanishing; and every time I look at it I wonder if one can capture this uncontrollable scene into a piece of art,,, It is a piece of art. Many photographers did and yes it looks vivid but you quickly get bored of a lifeless picture, as no one was able to capture the scene, motion of smoke, leaving their work a mean to show their technical talents like splashing colored liquids, it’s (mmmm) nice but not real.

But you know what they say “keep dreaming”! 

In March 2013, Arena B in Art Dubai, overwhelmed with the huge amount of art everywhere, I passed by a large painting with 3D rippled shades of grey and a space of whiteness in the background, when I read the description I was mesmerized! Shades of grey were actual smoke, not paints or digital art, but real smoke imprinted on a canvas! Just like the real scene, the smoke changes from thin soft lines, merges together to create hundreds of random figures and forms, one can never get enough of looking at it or tired from guessing what the figures can be. I couldn’t get it out of my mind since March! This timeless piece of art is by Brazilian prominent artist Shirley Paes Leme from her “Fumaça-Ação”  series.

Finally! a child’s imagination came to life!

Shirley Paes Leme Untitled, from "Fumaça-Ação" Series, Frozen Smoke on Canvas. 120 X 80 cm, 1999. Courtesy: Bolsa de Arte
Shirley Paes Leme Untitled, from “Fumaça-Ação” Series, Frozen Smoke on Canvas. 120 X 80 cm, 1999. Courtesy: Bolsa de Arte
Untitled, from "Fumaça-Ação" Series. Frozen Smoke on Canvas. Courtesy: Bolsa de Arte
Untitled, from “Fumaça-Ação” Series. Frozen Smoke on Canvas. Courtesy: Bolsa de Arte

Fumaça-Ação literal meaning is Smoke-Action by Paes Leme (B. 1955) who developed a new technique pyrophytography, which consists of applying a colorless liquid to paper or cloth; the drawing is then revealed by the action of the heat from a flame. Such as the meanderings of the wind, or of history, the final result is always unpredictable. (source)

I can’t disregard the strong technique of Shirley abstract artworks, nor her background and accomplishments as an artist. However I am keen about the talent, ongoing experiment and ability to transform toxicity or something usually referred dangerous into a piece of art, beauty and creativity. The sky is the limit for creativity as long as you follow your wildest imagination, and no matter how impossible the mean seems consider it a challenge that will definitely make the art you form unique, vivid and timeless.

About The Artist

Artist Shirley Paes Leme
Artist Shirley Paes Leme

Shirley Paes Leme – Live and work in São Paulo, Brazil.

Born in 1955,  Shirley began her artistic training in 1975 on the UFMG Fine Arts Course and was a student of Amilcar de Castro. Between 1981 and 1986 she traveled to several countries, attending the University of Arizona in 1983, and the Art Institute of San Francisco and the University of California, Berkeley in 1984. In 1986, she obtained a PhD in Arts from JFK University, Berkeley and was a fellow of the Fulbright Foundation from 1983 to 1986. She produces drawings, interventions, performances and installations, and has received numerous awards in major Brazilian and American Salons, as well as holding solo exhibitions in Brazil and abroad. She has participated in group exhibitions since 1975 with special mention for Novos Valores da Arte Latino-Americana, Museu de Arte de Brasília, Brasília, 1989; Lausanne Biennial, 1993; VII Poland Biennial, 1995; Deux Artistes brésiliens: Amilcar de Castro et Shirley Paes Leme , Paris, 1996. In 1999 she joined the Artist in Residence program at the Künstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin and was awarded with Artist in Residency Program. Her latest shows were Água Viva in Museu Vale, and Incerto limite in  Galeria Bolsa de Arte both is 2012.

For more information on the artist and view her work, go to Bolsa de Arte Gallery.


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