Lucas Lima was born and raised in Belo Horizonte (Brazil) and has lived in Stockholm and London in the past four years. He deconstructs and reorganises his daily life in his collages, trying to make sense out of his perceived reality and learnings as a foreigner. The pieces illustrate Lucas’ trip from Brazil to Sweden, from Belo Horizonte to Stockholm, from Portuguese to English and Swedish, from summer to winter, from home to the unknown.
01. Foreign Parts – Exploring foreignness
Foreign Parts began as a part Lucas’ attempt to rebuild the things he had back home in Brazil that made him happy. The project went through an incubation process involving months of research before Lucas eventually landed on the concept.
“Foreign Parts represents my journey in reinventing myself abroad. I became a foreigner, an immigrant.”
“Collages are something I have always done and kept on doing. Throughout these years I always have my book filled with small pieces of materials with me.” He added, “When I placed my collages side by side, I almost immediately drew the connection between them. They were all stories about my life for the past three years as a foreigner.”
But the collection is more than just a collection of stories. “Foreign Parts represents my journey in reinventing myself abroad. I became a foreigner, an immigrant. I think there are different levels of being a foreigner — you can be one in your thoughts, in your own groups of friends, or even in your hometown. I began finding patterns in them and clustering them into groups.”
02. Spreading good ideas
Lucas believes that good ideas and creations are meant to be shared and enjoyed by others, beyond the purpose of self-fulfilment of their creators. “I completely understand when other people put a high price on their originals; I myself have paid a lot of money for first press and limited editions. But personally I find it hard to justify putting a high price on my work,” he said.
For Foreign Parts, he sought out art collectors and friends to gather opinions on how he should price his work. He was told by art experts that the first price an artist set is going to define his career, and it had to be within a certain price range to get on any self-respecting art collector’s radar. His close friends, however had different opinions on the matter. But hearing both sides helped put things in perspective for him.
I’d never be as proficient and fluent in English or Swedish as a native speaker, so maybe that’s why collages is an important way for me to express myself.
“I realized that I’d much rather have someone who is similar and I can relate to, have a conversation with to interact with my work.”
“I realized that I’d much rather have someone who is similar and I can relate to, have a conversation with to interact with my work. It’s more important to have someone who cares about the piece and can also afford it to put it up on their wall. That is a big thing for me personally,” Lucas said.
Despite having an agreement signed, on the eve of the exhibition he informed the gallery he was working with that he wanted to lower the pricing by 50 percent.
03. Finding beauty in ordinary things
Unlike in the past, where he would hunt down rare magazines from specific eras, these days Lucas leans toward using cheap and seemingly insignificant everyday objects in his work.
“I’ve been collecting random scraps and stuff my entire life. I would unknowingly pick them up from the floor. Every second week or so I would empty my back pockets and they were always filled with a ton of things. Mostly I’m just collecting things without knowing if I’m ever going to use them. I find myself looking for patterns in my daily habits nowadays,” he said.
In many ways that is exactly what Lucas set out to achieve with Foreign Parts—to share his journey as a foreigner by drawing others into the experience by using nondescript and everyday materials.
“Every second week or so I would empty my back pockets and they are always filled with a ton of things.”
"I like to have a more contemporary take with the elements I use. People might recognize things, not necessarily from childhoods, but more of like ‘Wait, I saw this somewhere yesterday.’"
04. Collage – a whole greater than the sum of its parts
It’s not everyday that you get to meet a collage artist. So one of the first questions we asked Lucas was how he got acquainted with the art form.
“The reason I got into graphic design was because of punk, record covers, band shirts, flyers stuff. When you don’t know anything, the easiest way is to cut and put things together. It’s also a big part of the punk culture to do collages,” he said.
Whatever I do I try to add meaning to it rather than just pure expression. It’s important for me to think about how to create something that means more than just looking nice.
“You can make sense out of anything. You begin by doing something that doesn’t mean anything.” He recalled that as his professor’s approach. As a designer, he was conditioned to solve problems and to tell stories, so unlearning those rules and learning to reverse-engineer the process, so to speak, proved to be a struggle for Lucas. When he finally made the breakthrough, with his lecturer telling him, “You’ve fucking nailed it.”, he gained the confidence to progress from there and he hasn’t looked back since.
"You can make sense out of anything. You begin by doing something that doesn’t mean anything.”
05. The search for a personal connection
Living abroad for the first time, Lucas quickly found himself in unfamiliar territory after the initial excitement and novelty wore off. Back home, his life was shaped by pre-made choices, from the schools he attended to the neighborhood he lived in. Now he could finally experience everything with an open mind and fresh eyes. While he was also enjoying his newfound freedom, simple tasks became challenging assignments.
“I used to over-think stuff. These days, I no longer try as hard to find deep meaning in things because my struggles now are very different.” He added, “I’m constantly changing, so in some sense I will always be a foreigner.”
“It’s always exciting when people identify or find out about certain details where it means something to them.”
Perhaps it’s his experience as a foreigner, but it’s obvious that Lucas has a desire to connect with others through his work. Foreign Parts, for example, is peppered with such elements hidden in plain sight.
“I used little pieces of birth control strips in different collages throughout Foreign Parts. Most people would look at it and move on. But some came up to me and asked me about those little strips. It’s always exciting when people identify or find out about certain details where it means something to them. I love the fact that someone could relate to a creation and be able to tell their own story about it.”
While he has no concrete plans to extend Foreign Parts, Lucas is open to revisiting the collection if a new idea comes to him, as long as it doesn’t interfere the original thinking behind the project: to illustrate and say something that needed to be said at a certain time. At the moment Lucas is deliberating a few on-going side projects, and recently he has also released a new poster series entitled “Sexual Frustration” as part of an exhibition in Stockholm.