A talented artist and entrepreneur, Soraia Oliveira explores the human condition through her visually impactful works

Portuguese photographer delves into the topic of human fragility with various narratives and scenarios, inviting viewers to reflect and travel inwards

– April 29, 2024 | Text Beatriz Maio | Photos Soraia Oliveira

The artistic world is a universe with so much still to explore, and Soraia Oliveira is more than motivated to do so. Photography is her great passion and the magic with which she creates stories and scenarios and immortalises moments makes her the unique artist she is.

Soraia Oliveira

Born in Guimarães, she brought her talent and productions to southern Portugal, more specifically to Messines, in Silves, where she now lives with her boyfriend Mathias Fernandes, a travel and adventure photographer known as “Mathias Explores”. The couple met by chance on a deserted beach in the Algarve. As soon as they saw each other, they realised that they shared a common interest: photography.

Soraia Oliveira - 1

While Soraia was documenting what she saw with a camera, Mathias went further and did it with a drone. This activity was enough for them to start talking and, to this day, they feel that there is an immense artistic world that they can discover together.

In fact, Soraia comes from a family where the visual arts have always been present, so this is an area she discovered from an early age. She remembers watching her mother, Margarida, who was always carrying a camera, and being very curious to see the result of each click. Her brother, Rafael, is a plastic artist, which also contributed to the development of her creativity throughout her childhood.

Soraia Oliveira - I cant see lenticular

“Rafael taught me a lot, we’ve always collaborated with each other unconsciously. I remember him waking me up at dawn to ask my opinion on a piece of work and my vision was crucial,” she said.

She graduated in Fine Arts from the Upper School of Arts and Design, in Caldas da Rainha, and spent her final year studying abroad in two Italian cities, Bolzano and L’Aquila.

In Portugal, her favourite part of university was developing photographs in the laboratory and, in Italy, discovering new media to work with and experimenting new ways of expressing her art.

It was when a teacher proposed that she create a narrative around her projects that she realised how much she enjoyed doing it.

Soraia Oliveira - Porto Santo

In her early days at university, she used to photograph friends and simple details, such as flowers or leaves, but quickly found out exactly what she wanted to do: explore the human body and form as well as the fragility of being, which is her greatest challenge.

She began taking photos of nude subjects with some sort of bucket over their heads to hide their identities, but she did not feel she could capture the sensations and emotions she wanted, in a spontaneous way.

As such, she started taking self-portraits and became a photographer, model, and set designer, which she still does today; she comes up with everything, from the set to the model’s expression.

Soraia Oliveira - O vácuo quase perfeito

Her first self-portraits were shot in her bedroom, using objects that worked as tripods and sheets as backgrounds as she played with the light.

Today, she works with 3D prints for her backgrounds and does not limit herself to the materials she uses. “I like to look at ordinary things and see if it’s possible to make prints with certain materials that catch my eye,” Soraia expressed. Her latest adventure is a woodprint, a material she has never tried before.

In her work, she uses aluminium, acrylic, paper, and more. She also goes all out with the details, such as using silver leaf or gold spray, which gives it an even more special touch. The artist’s creative work was born out of a desire to create and eternalise moments because she felt that photography had become banal with the use of smartphones. Besides, she also wants to challenge people’s creativity and let everyone make their own interpretation of what they see and feel.

Soraia Oliveira - A whisper out of time

I don’t like to explain too much because some things are very personal. I like people to see my work in the same way I see other artists and I let myself be guided by what the work conveys to me. That’s what I want to give the viewer, I want them to travel inwards, to reflect, to want to explore, to be creative, and to live,” she assured.

Soraia wants her work to create an experience of being, a kind of perspective journey; something that is not reduced to our rational actions.

In addition, one of her main goals is to make the viewer question what we are, how we think individually and in society, and how we categorise the world.

Soraia Oliveira

At the end of the summer of 2023, it was time to take on a new project; she launched a jewellery collection.

The model for the rings, necklaces, earrings, and bracelets, made from silver and gold, was inspired by a self-portrait that Soraia chose together with her partner Sofia Arantes, a jewellery designer.

Soraia Oliveira - Jewllery Sofialow

The pose is true to the artist’s style: a female figure. Although the image is open to interpretations, it always conveys “a very conscious and emotional feeling of self-connection,” Soraia explained.

Soraia Oliveira - Jewllery Sofialow

Since she began her career in visual arts, she has not stopped growing professionally and has showcased her work in art exhibitions throughout the country.

Soraia Oliveira has been surprising viewers with increasingly original pieces and the recurrent use of new materials, works that will soon be on show in her studio in the Algarve.

She is also planning a partnership with her brother soon, which will combine photography with painting.

Soraia’s works (both prints and jewellery) are available for purchase on her website.

Author: Inside Magazines

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