Works of art valued at €1 million? Ker Art gallery, in Armação de Pêra, has one
When Brazilian artist and art curator Edna Lima chose to host a painting exhibition in Portugal 15 years ago, she had no idea this country would become her home and that she would now own a large, modern art gallery with an ocean view. She fell deeply in love with the way she was received, the culture, the people and the Algarve’s allure and never wanted to leave again.
Since founding Ker Art gallery in 2004, in Armação de Pêra, she has sold over 10,000 works. This positive outcome was only possible thanks to the joint effort with her brother, Ray Lima, and their Arab partner, Khadem Al Ghaith. The gallery’s name also sprang from this union, as an acronym of Khadem, Edna and Ray (KER).
Born in the state of São Luís, Maranhão, Edna studied fine arts and psychology. In Brazil, she coordinated two art galleries: one in Espírito Santo and another in Porto Seguro, Bahia. Against this background she developed a community initiative that she still replicates in the Algarve today: combining art, psychology and occupational therapy through her non-profit project Vida e Arte (Life and Art), which aims to teach children and the elderly how to paint for free.
“I challenged Silves Council and from there the opportunity arose to restore an old, dilapidated municipal building as an art gallery. Now we are a touristic and cultural attraction”Edna Lima
Besides permanent art exhibitions and painting lessons, they also offer curating and consulting services, promote emerging artists and manage “the only agency in the region specialising in art-oriented communication design”.
In 2011 Ray Lima joined his sister’s project and later, in 2015, the siblings met economist and painter Khadem Al Ghaith, from the United Arab Emirates. The Arab visited the gallery during a holiday in the Algarve and was impressed by the artworks and the space. Shortly after, he suggested a partnership and Edna and Ray flew to Dubai to cement the agreement. Now, as well as Ker Art in Armação de Pêra, they also manage a sister gallery in Abu Dhabi.
However, on canvas, the three artists’ works are very different. “Khadem is a contemporary artist with an eclectic style,” Ray describes. “He likes to challenge limits and introduce new techniques and bold materials.” Such as saffron, for example, with which he paints, breaking stereotypical art norms.
“Khadem became one of the first-ever painters in the United Arab Emirates,” he tells us. “My own style is very different. I consider myself a minimalist,” Ray states. “I believe less is more; and the simpler the work, the more powerful the message.”
On the other hand, Edna Lima’s art is mainly surrealist. The Brazilian confesses she likes conveying the strength of feelings through colours and she is inspired largely by Catalan master, Salvador Dalí. “The dream world is constantly present in my works,” she points out. That is evident by the way she blends organic and geometric shapes. The results, according to Ray, are canvases that invite viewers on a journey.
The most valuable piece on display (at time of this article’s publication) is also one of the gallery’s main attractions: the Mickey Mouse painting, at 207 x 156cm, valued at €1 million. There are also several works by Edna and Ray, which average between €2,000 and €4,000. In total, around 70 works from different artists fill the wide walls of the gallery, but not all are worth thousands of euros. Ray explains that there are several fine-art reproductions from local artists or small original paintings that are much more accessible, especially as one of Ker Art’s flagships is art accessibility. Some of these pieces can also be acquired through their online shop.
Even though the partners spend a good deal of time at this gallery, they often organise exhibitions in the world’s main capitals. The annual revenue from those sales reverts back to Algarve institutions, through the Ker Art Global programme: “We undertake our social responsibility and it’s a great pleasure to give something back to help the country that has already given us so much. […] After all, this is not my space nor Ray’s nor Khadem’s. This gallery belongs to us all,” Edna says.
Future plans include creating an artistic residence in a privileged area in Armação de Pêra. Building work has already begun on 10 themed suites, with decoration inspired by several painters. “The main idea is to promote culture and attract artists from all over the world.” Works should be finished by 2020.