In the organic flow of lines, characters, shapes, colours and compositions that form Paulo Arraiano's visual universe, there lies a duality that merges the natural and the artificial, nature and urbanity, emergence and creation. In the intersection between these two seemingly opposite and excluding worlds, he has managed to set a new-found balance that emerges from the primitive energy that flows between one and the other and is at the root of the visual language he has created and so intensely expresses. In this universe, the all-encompassing nom de guerre of Yup is an exclamation of positivity, an exhortation to life at its fullest, to the primeval motion which is channelled forward by means of those same lines, those same meridians that express the subject of drawing in its purest and most essential form.
Having grown-up as an only-child, on a diet of Japanese and American animation, Belgian comics and Lego blocks, he recalls the importance his father, as an architect, had on imprinting his passion for drawing, and that of his mother, a journalist and writer, on his love of books and the written word. Later on, during his wild, teenage angst-ridden years, he would come upon skateboarding and the interest for graphic and visual culture derived from rebelliousness, loud music and the aggressiveness of the urban environment. And yet, even then, his other side would balance this with the fluidity and harmony of the ocean, a primal need for nature, surfing and a love for the good vibes and irie soul of Jamaican roots and other natural and acoustic rhythms. Music as a life-long companion became an entry point to the world of composition, colour and design. And Design became a love-hate relationship, developed and pursued professionally until he realised the path of construction it offered was no longer meaningful, no longer provided the answers and harmony he yearned for.
He has dabbled extensively in several media and activities, from editorial design to commercial illustration, from clothing to toy design, from wall painting to screen-printing, from street interventions to gallery shows, from type design to teaching. Pervasive to all is the ever-present nature of drawing that forms the backbone of all his activities. Drawing as the harnessing of that primitive flow of energy that enables him to express, conduct and set forth his inner needs in order to balance internal and external issues, used as a harmony-reaching self-therapy. Drawing as everything, from dancing to surfing, from organising exhibitions to pure visual expression; body in motion, movement, energy, flowing through lines and reaching out to people, communicating, bringing them together and generating more energy, more flow.
His own self-confessed insecurities have relentlessly driven him to explore, experiment and question in order to follow his path of creation to its ultimate. Whether digital or analog, printed or hand-drawn, Yup is essentially about a never-ending quest, an unstoppable metamorphosis of styles and endless pursuit of balance, fully imbued with genuine love and soul. A quest for the roots, for the organic balance and energy motion that shapes, forms and sustains all life in this complex network of interactions and symbiotic relationships we are all a part of. A quest for a new writing system, a new language to bridge the natural and the artificial, nature and urbanity, which has become more and more abstract, more and more texturised, closer and closer to what lies at the root of all things.
Words by Miguel Moore, journalist and writer