Meet VISIONAIRE’s featured artist Sofia Arez whose illustrations of mushrooms adorn this special Peacebird collection. This Peacebird collection embraces eco-fabric and hangtags printed on seeded paper that can be planted into the ground.
Sofia Arez’s meticulously rendered lifelike portraits "capture the personality and character of each individual mushroom as I felt when I met them in the forest.” Fungi are one of the oldest and largest living organisms on planet Earth. Its above-ground fruiting body is the mushroom.
Arez was born in Portugal (she currently lives and works in Lisbon), where she originally discovered the wonders of mushrooms during “forest walks around Portugal, especially in the Beira region where I have roots on my father's side and where my interest in mushrooms was born.” As the subjects of her artworks, Arez says, “most of these fungi come from forests, where, without pollution, they develop better. My work is a challenge to pay more attention to life.”
Arez considers two experiences as transformative in her practice: she sketched the whimsical vignettes for Sophia de Mello Breyner’s book of short stories “The Forest,” now in its 14th edition; and she collaborated on intricate drawings for the Institute of Science and Environment at the University of St Joseph (Macao, China). Fantasy and science, usually considered opposites, seamlessly mesh under Arez’s gaze.
Arez spent close to 4 years in China, living in Macao (2012-2016) where she was initially invited to an artist residency at Fundação Oriente. “There is a lot of support for art from the Macao government. So, I’m very grateful for the time I spent in China.”
Arez speaks of the importance of China in her art and credits learning about the “mastery of the stroke of Chinese calligraphists and painters and…that may have changed my way of painting.”
“Ever since I can remember, I have paid the utmost attention to what I find around me, giving the greatest importance to the most insignificant things: small nests, feathers, stones, mushrooms, lichens and so many others.” Specifically speaking about Arez’s fascination with mushrooms, she explains, “At first sight, they seem shapeless and lifeless objects. It is necessary to relearn to look, to see the richness; peculiarities are only discovered when we plunge into them through the detailed observation that precedes drawing and painting.” The act of drawing is, for her, the “starting point of abandonment, the necessary surrender to attention.”
“I’m thrilled by the possibility of people being able to wear my artworks and take to their daily lives this call for care (and kindness) for life and the overlooked.” She hopes that this collaboration will “awake the curiosity, attention, and care for the unknown, the different, the fragile, the small, the unexpected.”
The original artworks are watercolor, for its layered quality, on a delicate grainless paper, for its translucence, similar to the mushroom’s skin. The mushroom paintings featured on the Peacebird apparel is “an invitation to those who look at the drawing, to take part in it. Art is for me a crucial way to think, do and live.”
Sofia Arez’s mushrooms are printed on 4 eco-friendly Peacebird T-shirts. Available at select flagship Peacebird stores and online. China only.
STARK VISIONAIRE is a joint venture formed in 2019 between VISIONAIRE, the multi-format publication based in NYC, and the Chinese firm STARK Global Holdings. This Shanghai-based creative agency specializing in art and fashion produces experiences, collaborations, and merchandise with local and international artists for the China market.