Figurative realism paintings
“The Death of Socrates” by Ana Monteiro

Meet this week’s top Realism Today Ambassador, Ana Monteiro.

Ana Monteiro is a Portuguese figurative artist whose practice revolves around the activity of painting, drawing, and writing. She holds an MA in painting from the Faculty of Fine Arts of the University of Porto and a BA in painting from the same institution and has exhibited regularly since 2011.

Contemplating the kaleidoscopic features of the “self,” she creates paintings that are deeply allegorical: through them, the portrait is used as a symbol, in an attempt to dive into the most hidden places of the identity and understand, on each step of the way, how daunting is the task of trying to figure out what makes us human — in our relation to the Other, to the social landscape, and perhaps the most important of all, to ourselves.

Selected solo exhibitions:
The Uncanny – Espaço Exibicionista, Lisbon
The Hidden Place – Ap’Arte Galeria, Porto

Flatland – Espaço Exibicionista, Lisbon

Desidentidades – Ap’Arte Galeria, Porto
Bojador – Museu Nogueira da Silva, Braga

Do Amor e Outros Demónios – Ap’Arte Galeria, Porto

Narciso – Museu Nogueira da Silva, Braga

Pela Raiz – Câmara Municipal Barcelos, Braga

Selected Group Exhibitions
Dia D – Espaço Exibicionista, Lisbon
Bienal de Gaia – Casa da Cultura, Alfândega da Fé

Pop Corn – Espaço Exibicionista, Lisbon

30×30 – Galeria Acervo, Lisbon
Colectiva de Pintura – El Corte Inglês, Gaia
Colectiva de Pintura – ShairArt, Braga
Les uns e les autres – Ap’Arte Galeria, Porto
Colectiva de Artistas Contemporâneos – Ap’Arte Galeria, Porto

Os Novos Paradigmas da Arte Contemporânea – Piola – Jardins, São Paulo (Brazil)
Encontros – Museu Memorial da América Latina, São Paulo (Brazil)
A Mágica da Mobilidade – Consulado de Portugal, São Paulo (Brazil)
Ano das Artes Brasil em Portugal e Portugal no Brasil – Ap’Arte Galeria, Porto

Em Suma – Museu da Faculdade de Belas Artes da UP, Porto

Match Point – Galeria Municipal do Porto, Porto
XXV Salão de Primavera / Prémio Rainha Isabel de Bragança – Galeria de Arte do Casino Estoril, Lisbon
Bienal Internacional de Arte Jovem – Câmara Municipal de Vila Verde, Braga

Sobre o Corpo – Casa-Museu Guerra Junqueiro, Porto

About the Paintings:

“The Death of Socrates” (shown at top) is a deeply symbolic work: assembled as a reflection about how the social landscape is getting stronger and stronger in the act of making its subjects drown in the spirit of the flock, of the unconsciously submissive collective way of perceiving the world.

How, as Socrates condemned to die by poisoning, accused of corrupting the youth with unconventional ideas, we get more numbed at each passing day, letting the Other mingle with our own sense of identity, silencing our intimate dialogue and turning into stone our originalities as “self.”

Some other thoughts, written on the process of painting:

The ideas I had, got stuck behind those I thought I had. The thought remained unthought. The soft laughs. The silent tears. The triumphant soul here and there: all on the reverse of who we are. In the unfamiliar cloth that lies between the skin and the soul and has no means to warm us. That we have no way to tear apart.

Figurative realism paintings
“Cassiopeia” by Ana Monteiro

“Cassiopeia” is a diptych that travels through the idea of discomfort. The discomfort that comes as a result of becoming aware of our deep disconnection with the current world.

Here again, some thoughts about it, written during the process of painting:

From the inside out. Unnamed. Upside down.

I remember meeting the world, or the bits of it that came into my eyes to the roots of my understanding, a few years ago.

I remember it in a certain way. The features I think it had. The timbre of its voice. The peculiar configuration of its face and the fleeting constancy of its figure.

I remember meeting the world a few years ago. And I don’t know when it was that I woke up and the world I knew was unfamiliar to me. It certainly was a slow metamorphosis, a planned lying change … so I couldn’t see it happening, right before my eyes. It was the nose that grew, a tiny breath with every turn of the months. The strands of hair that turned into other colors so slowly that the human eye couldn’t have felt it happening. It was the skin that went pale, as in the winter months, getting colder and windy by the day.

It was something that became something else that I had not noticed until everything was strange, foreign, unknown to me.

I don’t remember this world, and I don’t know how to learn the shades of its face if every day it changes like the surface of a sea beaten by the wind. I don’t know how to find it beautiful, just as I don’t know how to find it in any way, with any adjectives. I don’t know how to find it and that’s enough. And if I look for it, I have no way of seeing it anywhere where my understanding has the confidence to go. I have no dislike for it, just as I have no feelings that I could describe or construct. It escapes me, like the hours, and passes before me without courtesies or rudeness of any kind. I do not belong to it. It doesn’t want or reject me, and I don’t know what fear or sympathy I should devote to it.

I remember meeting the world a few years ago, and the world was not this one. Not a distant relative. An acquaintance. A friend of a friend. They actually never met.

I remember meeting the world, knowing it well, and the world wasn’t this one. And the strangeness is such that, today, I think one of us is certainly in the wrong place without being aware of it. That one of us is lost, wandering through life as if it was a dream. From the inside out. Unnamed … and upside down.

Figurative realism paintings
“New Land” by Ana Monteiro

“New Land” is one work among some others, all from a body of paintings conceived for an exhibition under the concept of the Uncanny. Both a concept and a sensation, this idea of the Uncanny (which has no literal translation for Portuguese, my native language) is something I’m very interested to explore through my work.

Here again, some of my reflections about the subject:

Every day I lay in the shadow of every other day. The days that are still passing. The days that left me so many times ago; the only thing about them that remains in me is a veiled impression of what they were. The days which are still to come and, in a moment, will be gone as well.

Every day I am born to a new body, a tired and repeated idea of me, and yet, so strange that I don’t know who looks back at me, on the other side.

Every day the flesh where I live changes and bores me for being always the same, and frightens me in the imperceptible change that I see with the eyes of abstract sensations.

Every day brings me ghosts of memories. With a fog over it. Something that is not a memory and is not a thought. Little lost signs. Cardinal points of who I was or a bizarre dream that I may once have had. Colors and smells and ragged images. Lights and noises and flavors that I feel with the skin. Fragments of the hours when I was Another thing rather than this. But also this and all the things I’m yet to be, in such a lost time that it sounds like a fantasy.

And there is something behind the heart that shrinks when the vivid colors of the candy box, adorned with rust, is opened in my mind and my tiny hands grab it, amid the smell of dust and wood … and the blaring horns resonate through the windows of today and I’m returned to myself with a bizarre and false feeling of having been on the reverse of the world.

Every day is an echo of other days and the original scream of many others.

Learn more about Ana Monteiro at

Related > Browse portrait and figure workshops in the style of contemporary realism here.