Leading up to the most anticipated Formula One race in Portugal, that took place on 24 and 25 October, an English couple, Simon and Amanda, decided to commission a giant portrait of Lewis Hamilton on their property’s full-size football pitch near the site of the Portuguese Grand Prix. The talented young artist who took on the biggest painting challenge of his artistic career is 28-year-old HUARIU, born in Portimão.

This piece was commissioned to support Lewis Hamilton in the Portuguese Grand Prix as the couple are huge fans of the driver. They were disappointed that they were unable to attend the Portimão race and wanted to show their support as they have strong ties to the Algarve.

HUARIU had already completed two murals for the couple beforehand and they wanted to give him free reign to let loose his creativity on this special project. The brief was just to paint something in support of Hamilton and to celebrate Formula One coming to the Algarve, little did they know just how far this artist would take it.

The Portugal News had the pleasure of interviewing the artist under the pseudonym HUARIU, a play on words of the phrase “who are you?”. The talented artist is Lagoa based and has always had a natural talent for drawing since childhood. He said that he got into graffiti from the age of 10, for roughly five years. He then took a break from art to do sport and focused his energy on skateboarding and teaching tennis. He got back into art by helping a friend with his commissions and then decided to put his efforts into doing commissions himself at the age of 22.

When asked about how this commission came about he said that he “already knew the couple from doing a few pieces for them”, and added that he had already completed a Hamilton piece, where he painted their garage with Lewis Hamilton in his race car, waving a flag.

At first the couple asked him to write “Go Lewis” along the football pitch but when the artist got to the site, he thought that he could “do something more impressive with this amazing opportunity”. The couple trusted HUARIU to do as he wished and they were very happy with his two initial designs. When he started the portrait, he admitted that he “thought of quitting” due to the scale of this portrait, he also said he usually uses a grid to help him paint but that would take too long and he was under a time limit. He then changed the design again and made dots to guide him, with only a paint roller as his trusty tool. This spectacular piece took 8 days, 1,000 litres of paint and covered 5,500m2 of their football pitch. They had to have drone photos taken every day to help the artist see how the piece was coming together.

When completed the piece was “more than anyone could have imagined”. Despite the adverse weather on one of the days, he still managed to complete the portrait with the help of his girlfriend and two friends on the last few days.

He said he felt very “relieved” when he had finished the piece and that “the project was a blur”.
It was a real “fairy-tale” ending for many reasons, firstly that this mammoth portrait was able to be completed ahead of this huge race and that this young Algarvian artist has gained the recognition that he deserves, which is what the couple had hoped for. Most excitingly his piece was recognised by the sports star Hamilton who deemed the piece mind blowing as he said “Wow I’m totally blown away by this. Thank you so much HUARIU.” to his 2.4 million Instagram followers.
HUARIU said “I was really happy that Hamilton saw the piece, I wasn’t expecting it to go viral”. He added “my goal was to support him so the fact that he won and secured his 92nd win, showed everything went right that weekend!”

This artist had already painted a wall mural named “tranquilidade” meaning calmness in his hometown, Lagoa, once before in 2018, which was for an old people’s home. He has also completed a lot of wall murals around the world in the last couple years including in America, Ireland, Spain and Austria. His first opportunity to do a large scale mural came about four years ago where he participated in a street art festival in Lisbon. He said that he usually seeks out street art festivals but also is asked to paint something for them.

So what does the future hold for HUARIU? He said: “The current pandemic has been terrible for work as it has postponed or cancelled some street art festivals” but he is waiting for the “next big thing”. The talented artist feels that social media has “ruined the experience of creating art” as everything is about “likes and shares” and his attitude of not caring about what other people think and taking risks has made him enjoy the process of creating, as he is free from that social pressure. Despite this stance, he also said that social media has undoubtedly helped him to achieve his long time goal “to get himself out there” so by having Hamilton share his work, it has been incredible as he has gained more recognition.