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170 YEARS OF FAMILY CERAMIC TRADITION and a modern look at Portuguese ceramics.MARIO REIS in Madeira

Updated: Jan 26, 2022

Mario Reis, born in 1971 in Caldas da Rainha, is probably one of the most popular Portuguese potters. From early age he was introduced to the world of art and ceramics, but only later he decided to continue the family tradition. His most often motives are nature and animals, and his artworks can be found from New York, through Macau all the way to China. Besides the couple dozen meters high waves of Nazaré, Mario’s ceramics are probably one of the top things why to visit this Portuguese town. Our art shop and Art Center Caravel also have one of his collections.

One of Portugal's most famous ceramists works for Madeira island and Art Center Caravel
Mario Reis at a personal exhibition

For how long has been this tradition in your family? How old you were when you recognized the talent in yourself?

Ceramics have been in my family since around year 1850, it is a tradition that my great-great-grandfather started. My great-grandfather, my grandfather and my uncles were also potters. Although as a child I played with clay in my grandfather's pottery and liked to draw a lot, only later, when I was about 20 years old, would I become interested in making pottery.

João dos Reis in 1975, Mario´s grandfaher and Mario Reis in their studios

Where do you find inspiration, what are the motives you like to use?

I find inspiration in many things, often in nature and animals, but also in many other things, per example related to events or everyday life. And sometimes I love to mix all these realities.

Contemporary Portuguese tiles in the manner of Mario Reis
Mario Reis at Art Center Caravel

How long is usually the whole process of creating such art?

It's hard to quantify time. It depends on the type of work. I usually work on several pieces at the same time. It is a time-consuming process, all manual and with many different steps. Usually the idea happens faster, and then it takes time to bring that idea into reality.

Mario Reis open air exhibition. In the city of Nazare in Portugal, home of the highest wave and the Guinness World Record.

You are all over the world, countless people from New York to Changchun appreciate your art. What do you consider as your biggest success?

I think that my most seen and appreciated works are, without a doubt, the works that are in the public spaces in Nazaré, Portugal. But there are other pieces that, although they don't have the same impact, I like them too, sometimes because of the idea or a small detail that makes the artwork special.

Art Center Caravel team

Funchal, 2022

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