Brazilian watercolor painter Josie Mengai is inspired by every part of her country’s natural surroundings, from the smallest hibiscus blossom to the fiercest panther. Mengai emphasizes Brazil’s bright colors and vivid sunlight, and often bursts her frame with homey, familiar details. Her images feel lived-in and welcoming. She paints it all: delicate botanical studies, docks dipping into the river, weathered cars and boat hulls, the colorful exteriors of her countrymen’s homes, and wild animals captured at close range and making eye contact with the viewer. Each subject represents a different facet of Brazil’s everyday life.
Mengai is an unusual watercolor painter in that she forgoes the medium’s traditional impressionistic textures. Though her pieces retain the airiness of watercolor, Mengai is meticulous with her layering and precise in her details. Edges are sharp and depth is clearly delineated. The work is as realistic as possible. As a result the paintings have the reflective, gem-like quality of a stained-glass window.