Francisco Nogueira & Branca Cuvier
Francisco Nogueira & Branca Cuvier
FRANCISCO NOGUEIRA & BRANCA CUVIER
PHOTOGRAPHER & ARTIST
Two bodies, two voices, one mind. This is how Francisco Nogueira, one of Fantastic Frank Lisbon’s amazing photographers, and Branca Cuvier, a visual artist who happens to be his wife, find themselves going through life with their two kids and a newly opened studio, JIBÓIA.
FF: Francisco, how did you become an architecture photographer?
F: I’ve always been an art lover. I studied architecture, perhaps looking for the variety of realms it could show me. I really never wanted to be an architect, but rather have the possibility of doing something related to it. I’ve always enjoyed discovering new things — and this is probably the most significant way of putting things, to discover, to be fascinated by everything around me.
FF: How did you look at photography back then, and how did you know you wanted to pursue it?
F: I knew immediately that photography could take me out there to explore the world. After finishing my studies I started doing some photography work. I took what I earned from it and went backpacking around South America for three months. It was absolutely amazing! My head was spinning with ideas. When I returned to Lisbon, I posted all the photos I took during that trip, and things just started heating up. In 2010, I went to Barcelona to work at Ventura Valcarce Architects studio.
FF: What about you, Branca? When did you decide to work on your art?
B: My upbringing was always very connected to art. My mother is a visual artist, and my grandmother [the late Portuguese artist Helena Almeida] was, too. In some way, I was taught that art was part of life. To be able to create something with your hands. We would create something, and I went to bed thinking about what I had made that day. Hands were always a big part of our relationship as a family, the way we touched each other to communicate; there was always that delicate side to it, a feminine kind of statement.
FF: When did you decide to go further with it?
B: In 2009, I really wanted to go abroad. I got into the Gerrit Rietveld Academie, in Amsterdam, and just went for it. I wanted a fresh start. About three days before I left, I was introduced to Francisco so we started exchanging emails, long ones. We talked about our lives, swapped references and influences. There was some form of intimacy growing, and we both were at a stage where we wanted to be better at what we were doing, so we started absorbing that power from each other.
F: My pragmatic side learned a lot from Branca’s more artistic and poetic side.
B: We merged together in a way that allowed us to still be ourselves.
FF: How did your work develop into what it is today?
B: Before I finished the course, Francisco and I were already spending our time between Amsterdam, Barcelona and Lisbon, but I wanted to do an internship with someone I could really learn with. I found this fantastic artist, Lucy McRae, with whom I worked a lot on body sculpture, very experimental pieces. Second skin. I came back to Portugal with a bunch of ideas and full of energy, so I decided to create a jewellery brand. It was something I wanted to do so I could make my contemporary pieces on the side. After a period of being home just trying to plan and write down what I wanted to do, I got struck by this need of buying paint and drawing — it took me about eleven years to start drawing again.
FF: After all that time, you finally found your voice.
B: I was too concerned about sharing something finished and not the process but realised it should be the other way around. Things got on the right track, and I’ve been painting ever since.
FF: Tell us about your new studio.
B: JIBÓIA was conceived as a space not only where we could work, but also to showcase other projects, to put different creative minds doing things together. It was important to us to have a coworking space, a place where we can have open studio days, film projections, everything. Finally, after a couple of years of renovations and plans, we opened JIBÓIA and are eager to welcome people to join us here and work together. That’s how we like doing things: collaborating, listening, learning.
All photos by Francisco Nogueira
Interview by: Soraia Martins for FF Lisbon