Portugal, 1973

ZMB was born in July 1973 at Porto, Portugal. With the age of eight or nine, he was trying to draw and paint with gouache a work for the school: a wardrobe. He felt some affliction because he was not making it well. He asked his mother’s help who painted an example to him and next he painted on his own the work he wanted already with confidence and relieved from anxiety and frustration. Today when he remembers this moments he recognises it as the birth moment for the peace he feels while he is painting. With the age of twelve or thirteen, inspired by cartoons of football players designed for kids, he drew, on sight and with pencil on sheets of ‘papel cavalinho’, two complete football teams. One sheet was offered to a school friend and the other got lost, he never gave much value to his own works probably because his low-middle-class parents taught him that art generates the poor and that a life of painting is suffering. ZMB was a good student at drawing and visual arts at the secondary school but at the age of fifteen he became fascinated with electricity and electronics and thought he wanted that as his future: to be an engineer to make good money and to buy material goods. He joined with eighteen years old the University of Aveiro, Portugal to study Electronic and Telecommunications Engineering. Until then, ZMB was a fellow with not many friends and less cultural or pleasurable experiences, and a new world arrived: some new friends started to come together to discuss books, music and art and a bit in opposition to the mathematical and physical world of the degree we all were studying at the university. Thus ZMB started from being Zombie who collaborated with friends in music and poetry experiences around the first years of the nineties. That is, he entered in a contradiction: his ambition to become rich by studying engineering started to fade out in lack of passion and in his inability to study subjects who where so metaphysical like, for example, the imaginary and complex numbers of mathematics. His passion was art. He started to draw more seriously around 1995. He joined an eighteen hours course given by the student’s association where he learned the materials and how and where to buy them. He painted the first little canvas and fell in ecstasy. He wanted now to be a painter and no more an engineer. Until then, he always lived in shared rooms but on his last year at Aveiro he got a low-cost room at an old house and this gave him an atelier, gave him an inner world, gave him walls to fix paper and raw cloth on to paint new works, gave him a girlfriend who lent him money to pay the fee of a one year painting course (three hours on a week), where ZMB proposed to study to later apply to a fine art degree.

But the world fell over him, the risk of failure on the engineering degree, the difficult relations with family, friends, teachers and girlfriends, the sensation of carrying inside his head an alienating duality, the fear of an unhealthy future… all this led him to a suicide attempt in 1997. He recovered without being hospitalised, he broke out with his girlfriend and with the one-year painting course, he focused on finishing his degree and at his room on part-time he was painting or writing his first book with Claudio Mur as the pen name. It’s on 1997 that he visits the painting exhibition of Zé de Aveiro who talks with him because ZMB spent long minutes looking to his canvas at the show. ZMB tells hims he wants to be a painter supported by engineering’s money. In October 1997, ZMB lands on Rep. of Ireland for his first official job: multimedia trainee. Everything is new, his new friends are multimedia artists, he learns design with them, he becomes impressed with the pubs full of paintings on the walls, a scene very different from the Portugal way, he shows his work to a fine art teacher who tells him his work is rough, imperfect and raw, he also says it’s not necessary to join fine arts schools to be an artist. ZMB returns fifteen months later to Portugal with the desire to be a multimedia artist but the world no longer understands him. He becomes alienated and hospitalised for the first time in 2000 at Hospital Conde Ferreira, as a patient with a paranoid schizophrenia diagnosis. Deep within, he was feeling sick already for a long time, and he even thinks he attracted madness unto him, it came sooner because he looked for it under the influence of all the romantically ‘poets maudits’. It was because of this feeling that he never believed in the medical diagnosis of schizophrenia, he felt he himself helped the system to incarcerate him: between 2000 and 2008 he was hospitalised four times and it was only because his parents never gave up of him that he never became a homeless person. ZMB started to become healthier when he accepted that maybe he was really a schizophrenic patient and when he started to accept help from people, he found a new girlfriend who gave him a real objective in life, he lowered his hashish habits, he tried to be good on a job. In 2014, he retired from the job world and receives now a disability pension by the Portuguese state. He feels proud when he now says he is a full-time painter.

ZMB is a strange Outsider Artist, he has a lot of self taught technique but his content deals and tries to express the relation between his inner world and the outside world, such as other painter’s works, or references to music or books he reads.

Source: ZMB