The artworks by Xavier Portela glow with such overwhelming colors, you might think you are standing before a neon sign. You can practically hear the lively soundscape of major metropolises like Tokyo and New York. This is the artist’s exact intention; Portela recreates the pulsing sensation of being in the streets of a bustling city.
“Street photography is about more than just framing your shots. There are variables like temperature, sounds, people, and odors,” the artist says. It was in Tokyo in 2014 that Portela first wanted to capture these powerful sensations with his camera. He quickly discovered the limitations of nighttime photography – his first efforts felt too static to transport the atmosphere of the Japanese metropolis. This was the impetus for his fascinating technique. Drawing inspiration from Manga aesthetics, Portela changed the entire color scheme. He oversaturates the colors to create exactly the same atmosphere that always overcame him and rendered him speechless in the streets between the illuminated high-rises.
The astounding results are extraordinary photo manipulations in glaring pinks and sky blues that create electric tension. Even on first glance, the pieces demonstrate a powerful attraction as we become aware of images of sensory impulses that can otherwise only be found in our memories.
Xavier Portela has Belgian-Portugese roots and is self-taught. He has worked as a freelance photographer and filmmaker for international ad campaigns for Volkswagen, Bose, Coca Cola, and more. Portela lives and works in Brussels.