Artist Spotlight

MC Artist Spotlight: 12 Questions With Surrealist Painter Santiago Ribeiro

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MC Artist Spotlight: 12 Questions With Surrealist Santiago Ribeiro
Santiago Ribeiro (Untitled, 40 x 30)

Surrealist Santiago Ribeiro, a Portuguese artist, born and living in Coimbra, is an international artist whose artworks have been shown in his home country and across Europe and collected across the world. He is the mentor and driving force of the largest surrealism exhibition in the 21st century, International Surrealism Now.

Earlier in 2023, four of Ribeiro’s works valued at an estimated $35,000 were stolen in San Juan Capistrano, a city in California, a loss he tells Modaculture he has had to face “with a feeling that is very difficult to describe”.

The art show, Surrealism Now, which the artist leads, so far has a presence in Berlin, Moscow, New York, Dallas, Los Angeles, Mississippi, Indiana, Denver, Warsaw, St. Petersburg, Nantes, Paris, London, Vienna, Beijing, Florence, Madrid, Granada, Barcelona, Lisbon, Belgrade, Monte Negro, Romania, Japan, Taiwan, Brazil, Minsk, New Delhi, Jihlava (Czech Republic), Caltagirone in Sicily, and many cities in Portugal.

Surrealism Now 2024 exhibition opening, Mafra Palace | Image courtesy of the artist

The show began in 2010, organised by the Bissaya Barreto Foundation, and has over the years played host to over 200 artists and hosted 15 editions so far.

This year, the exhibition opened earlier in February, on the 5th and lasted through the 17th, and had over 125 artists from across 52 countries–Jimah St, Nigeria; Achraf Baznani, Morocco; Adrian Boureanu, Romania; Agim Meta, Albania-Spain; Aissa Mammasse, Algeria; Alessio Serpetti, Italy; Alvaro Mejias, Venezuela; Ana Neamu, Romania; Graça Bordalo Pinheiro, Portugal; Victor Lages, Portugal, among others.

The art show paid tribute to Isabel Meireles, one of the top surrealists in Portugal.  The surrealist painter is dedicated to promoting the Surrealism of the 21st century that these exhibitions presented over the last 14 years.

For the June edition of MC Artist Spotlight, we chat with Santiago Ribeiro.

MC Artist Spotlight: 12 Questions With Surrealist Santiago Ribeiro
Final Judgement
  • Modaculture: How would you describe your art?

Santiago Ribeiro: My art is mainly focused on imagination, freedom of thinking, and ideology. The big cities and society. This is 21st-century surrealism. 

  • Where do you draw inspiration?

In everyday reality, in nature, in infinite space, in human behaviour. The dream and the subconscious are always present. I also read a lot about art history, from the Stone Age to the 20th century.

The City of Slat
  • A year ago, you lost four artworks valued at $35,000, how did that experience make you feel and how are you recovering from that?

Nunca tal me tinha acontecido e quanto ao que senti foi a esperança em recuperá-las. Mas isso não aconteceu assim tive que encarar a perda com um sentimento muito difícil de descrever. Mas por incrível que pareça ainda tenho esperança em vê-las um dia. Espero que não as tenham destruído. 

This had never happened to me and what I felt was the hope of recovering them. But that didn’t happen, so I had to face the loss with a feeling that is very difficult to describe. But as incredible as it may seem, I still hope to see them one day. I hope they didn’t destroy them.

Santiago Ribeiro, Modaculture, June 2024

MC Artist Spotlight: 12 Questions With Surrealist Santiago Ribeiro
  • How has that experience impacted you as an individual and artist? What has changed for you since experiencing that?

I don’t have a concrete answer to this because I don’t understand or know why the paintings disappeared. Only time will tell what has changed. 

  • What is your process like, as an artist?

I paint when my mind is at peace, sometimes I have difficult experiences that prevent me from creating for long periods. But even so, sometimes with effort, I try to do something.

  • Describe your typical day as an artist.

Just like a normal person, nothing eccentric just with different moments and views. Just it.

  • What kind of artist are you? The super organized one with laid down routines or a more flexible one who goes with the flow whenever inspiration comes?

Yes, I am the most flexible one who goes with the flow whenever inspiration strikes. 

  • Why surrealism?

The word surreal says it all. It is based on the reality that forms that do not exist are created, everything related to dreams, imagination, the subconscious, and the freedom to express ourselves. The surrealism of the 21st century is everywhere. 

Butterflies IV
  • Have you always explored art, or was there a moment in time when you decided to pursue it?

I have always explored art since I was a child in an unconscious way until I realised what it was about and at that moment, I decided to continue with it.

  • International Surrealism Now 2024 was quite the show for artists all over the world with 125 artists from 52 countries. How did you achieve such a feat? And what would you say is your biggest success from the showcase?

This feat has been achieved since the first edition of Surrealism Now in 2010, supported and organized by the Bissaya Barreto Foundation based in the city of Coimbra. After that, another edition was opened in 2012 at the Conimbriga Museum with 25 artists from various countries. Since then, without my control, in 2024 we have 125 artists from 52 countries. As for success, I have no answer, it depends on each person’s point of view.

Artists from Surrealism Now during the Exhibition’s opening, Mafra Palace 2024; left to right – João Duarte, Nikolina Petolas, Santiago Ribeiro, Paula Rosa, Victor Lages | Image courtesy of the artist
  • In what ways would you say this exhibition contributes to the lives and careers of these artists from all over the world whom you converge for Surrealism Now?

It has acquired a dimension in which it has become difficult to find spaces to house it, but the works of the artists who participate are seen by different audiences both live and on the internet. 

  • Not much information about your personal life is in the public domain, care to share some with us about your background and life as an individual?

I´m just a normal person, nothing more :}


Gertrude Oby is the Editor-in-Chief at Modaculture. Email:

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