The colorful soul of painter Fannie Brito

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A house peeks through the colors in this painting of Brito's. Photo by Gabi McCausland.

Artist and former part-time University of Dallas student Fannie Brito is currently showing an exhibition called “Worlds of Color and Light” at the Irving Arts Center. These abstract expressionist paintings are reflections of Brito herself: a woman with many interests, trying to connect the dots between them while also dealing with the current turmoil in her homeland, Venezuela.

Fannie Brito was born in Carmel, California, and grew up in Caracas, Venezuela. After studying Art History and French in Montreux, Switzerland, she received a degree in medicine from the Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. Fannie moved to Dallas in 1990 and after ten years decided to teach art, for which she took classes at our very own UD.

Standing in front of Brito’s exhibition one can see bursts of atmospheric colors with what look like sketches from a science class notebook peeking out underneath. In these paintings, perhaps you can see a little bit of her history, but unless you talk to Brito herself, you can only guess.

“I don’t know about this artist,” exhibit viewer Megha Gandhi said. “But my first impression is, it’s more like the back of a high school book where people scribble and draw things, combined with amazing abstract and really beautiful pastel colors.”

According to Brito, psychoanalysis inspired the childlike theme running throughout the exhibition.

“My pink is not your pink,” Brito said. “My pink could mean my father gave me a pink cake when I was five years old and it was beautiful, but for someone else, their father could have smashed the cake on them …  Each color has a meaning for me, it’s very private and personal.”

Also, in most of the paintings, a tiny image of a house with a tree next to it can be seen. Brito explained that these were images of childhood.

“With the childlike images, I’m going back to childhood memories because that’s when everything affects your subconscious,” Brito said.

This theme, specifically the image of the house, fits nicely with the idea of home and family. Brito’s family from Venezuela, is experiencing difficulties because of the turmoil in the country at the moment.

“You don’t need to make this political, but right now that’s my state of mind because that’s part of who I am,” Brito said. “To come here and know that my aunts cannot get medication because there’s no money … it affects you a lot.”

Brito’s journey toward becoming the artist she is now reveals that it’s never too late to pursue what you love. She originally worked in medicine when she moved to Dallas, but decided to pursue painting when she became pregnant. “Serendipity event” were the words she used to express the discovery of her passion.

“I fell in love with painting, I fell in love with art,” Brito said.  

She taught expressive arts for a little while, for which she took education classes at UD over the summer around 2005. She loved her teachers, among whom were Sybil Novinski and Dr. Amy Fisher-Smith.

After this she wanted to pursue psychiatry. Instead, she got married and continued to paint.

The paintings in her “Worlds of Color and Light” exhibit involve oil, pigments and acrylic usually on canvas or wood. Peaking out beneath bursts of slightly faded colors are sketches and notes drawn in pencil.

The process of creating these paintings includes journaling on a blank canvas and then adding and extracting paint and pigments.

“I usually write in Spanish,” Brito said. “It’s not that I want to be snobbish — I do truly think in Spanish. And then I erase some of it because my idea is not for you to read it. The notes are for me.”

Brito said that, for inspiration, she usually does a sort of meditation before painting, so she can feel which colors to use.

A few paintings, featured as the Surrender Series in the exhibit, are all white. Brito made them when she wasn’t feeling inspired and wanted to depict silence.

“Today there is so much social media and so much talking,” Brito said. “I was trying to make things quiet. That’s why I created this series.”

Brito’s paintings will force you to go up close, and once you do, you will have a greater appreciation for the beautiful soul behind the work.

“The sketches are hard to see from far away,” Junior Connie Zicarelli said. “It forces you to go up close to the painting and really look at it.”

“Worlds of Color and Light” is showing now until Feb. 25 in the Carpenter Lobby at the Irving Arts Center. Admission is free.  

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