Twotma is an acronym for "this woman this man," which French artist Aimée Pedezert performs her art under. Originally from Bordeaux, Aimée moved to Portugal in 2016 and now creates her art in the streets of the cities she visits. She has ventured from Paris to Lisbon, creating black and white portraits, drawn by raw lines of Chinese ink with incredible stories and memories behind each piece.
Her portraits have fought for people in need during momentous events in the past few years. In 2019 Twotma expressed the need of housing rights in Lisbon by gluing posters all over the city to simply bring light to the housing issues eaten by gentrification. In 2020, Twotma collaborated with Gisela Casimiro, poet, writer and Portuguese artist, for a street auction based on Black Lives Matter. Today, her art has evolved into a place of peace and welcoming.
In this interview, Twotma reveals her Chinese ink artistic discovery, why art is the truest form of communication and the memories behind her series "Belle Vie," minted on Portion.
Twotma, the artistic name you create your work as, is an acronym for “this woman this man.” Can you expand on the history and formation of this name as well as the type of art you create?
"This woman this man" refers to the first art game I initiated with Lisbon’s streets when I moved there in 2016. I had painted hundreds of faces—very quick, nervous, expressive black China ink lines on A4 white sheets, all marked by the sentence: "Have you seen this man? Have you seen this woman?" - and I went gluing them all over the city. This created a real mystery, people not knowing whether the whole story was fictitious or not. It was received with joy and playfulness, and officially started my work as a street-artist. Through this came out major aspects of my search within the creative process: the necessity of playing, of surprise, the freedom of an anonymous line. The gentle arrogance of a "forbidden" action too, for sure. But mostly, the pleasure of coming back to a childish state, available to all, towards a shared game in the public space.
For the little story, this game actually started for a very romantic reason. I was young, I had just arrived in Lisbon, and the beauty of the city overwhelmed me. Colors, lights, ups and downs with breathtaking views at every corner, it was like an all-day, never-ending Stendhal syndrome for me. For this reason I thought: this city is made for Love! And I immediately decided to go big and fully seek out my own personal Love. Did I find it? That’s another story. But at least I had the chance to enter art galleries and exhibits, legally, and experience my dream in all of its dimensions.
Chinese ink art has been one of the oldest artistic traditions in the world. How did you learn your techniques within this medium? How long does it take you to craft a piece? Do you start with a clear vision, or does a piece take shape as you work?
There was this very small painting, in a rustic wooden frame, in the living-room of our family house. It was Chinese calligraphy, on this yellow rice paper. I was mesmerized by the simplicity and the obvious strength and history this tiny object seemed to carry along. At age 5 my dad offered me a stick of China ink. "That’s how Chinese Masters do", he said, holding the beige horse-hair brush right above the slim and transparent paper. "For years and years, they learn to live, to observe, to breathe. They learn silence. They learn about nature. They learn to unlearn. Then they paint, and their line becomes who they are."
I watched a lot of videos, I thought nothing was more real than this. I felt there was something there about respect, about truth, and it appeared, possibly, as an answer to the endless questions I was asking myself at this young age. Since then I started waking up every morning and went straight to my little desk to practice, while my whole family was asleep. I wanted to become one of them! A Chinese Master!
The way I use China ink now is way less ceremonial, I don’t use a calligraphy brush anymore. But the texture of this ink is unique and still, I feel at home using it.
My illustrations are not at all about time. These few lines actually take a few minutes or even seconds to make. But which seconds are we talking about? Which state of mind am I in, which energy level? Everything is just so ephemeral, and thus, precious… These few seconds of “truth,” where the shape of a line is sincere and radiates a state of being connected to the essence of your values and the world—these are precious seconds that demand a relentless work ethic, the work of building a life that both resembles you and guides, even nurtures you. I don’t paint to search for a particular aesthetic, or for the application of pure, hard artistic technique. I’m trying to paint my own truth in a way; which I would maybe define as essential, raw, impatient—as I am—insolent even. But infinitely gentle and kind. The notion of “beautiful” means nothing to me, the “beautiful” is simply each person’s truth. The movement of a paint brush must be a slackening, a relaxation, a breath, at the heart of the equilibrium found in a life built on its own values.
We're back to the Chinese Masters’ story! Live well, take care of yourself, then eventually your art will look like what you are searching for. Until now, the best things I have done always came from random and spontaneous moments, mostly when I don't pay too much attention to what I am doing. Never from the "sit and make" thing, which tends to block any creativity. But I am working on making that change…
Your pieces in the past have advocated for people in need such as housing rights in Lisbon and Black Lives Matter. Do you believe that art can effectively bring more people together and make us more tolerant of difference? Can it influence society by changing opinions, instilling values and translating experiences?
I believe that art and poetry, through all their forms and mediums, are the one true language. I believe art is the way to communicate truly. For me, beauty (which is endlessly subjective) is where our heart is. And this is where art goes directly. The brain comes second. Then eventually, people start re-thinking, from another perspective.
I believe that art eases life. It makes it bearable. Art is a place of total possibility. To me all music geniuses who helped raise consciousnesses and change societies with a few lines of incredible groove were unstoppable dreamers and visionaries who never let anyone judge them as fools or idiots. They installed their vision as a reality and brought people together in it, because this is all that we need: stories, dreams, beauty. A crazy great escape, as much as the deepest fight. A fight with the soul, really.
Mostly, I believe art feels good. It feels good because it represents a rupture in our daily lives. It’s the shock, the slap or the reward we secretly hoped for, to regain a fire for life. That’s my perspective… It feels good, and people act better when they feel good. Basic facts. ;)
How did you find your way into NFTs and crypto? What makes you different from other NFT artists?
I was introduced to the NFT world by a stranger, whom I met in Paris, after he saw my illustrations glued in the streets of Paris, close to the Canal Saint-Martin. He contacted me and mentioned this entirely new universe of NFTs to me. I’m always in for things I don’t know and that look a bit weird and freaky (to me, it definitely does). So I said yes, let’s create some art in this new, fascinating medium!
What makes me different? I don’t know. I like rain and whales. Does that make me different? I haven’t yet seen any Chinese ink artists in the NFT world, but more so than that, perhaps I more than most am guided by emotions and my state of mind—my creations are ephemeral snapshots of my heart and mind at a given time.
The series “Belle Vie," or "Good Life," minted on Portion was conceived by Twotma during her summer in Paris. Which piece is your favorite from this series and what is the story behind the inspiration?
My favorite piece might be « Little girl ». It represents a quiet dad and daughter walking in the streets, one morning, at the end of summer. She was sitting on his shoulders and she had a sleepy face. Simply beautiful.
What are some of your observations about the emerging behaviors in the NFT space and what do you see as next opportunities for this industry?
I have absolutely no idea and I’m looking forward to seeing and exploring. I’m currently working on animated pieces, but I won’t say any more on that :)
These few seconds of “truth,” where the shape of a line is sincere and radiates a state of being connected to the essence of your values and the world—these are precious seconds that demand a relentless work ethic, the work of building a life that both resembles you and guides, even nurtures you. I don’t paint to search for a particular aesthetic, or for the application of pure, hard artistic technique. I’m trying to paint my own truth in a way; which I would maybe define as essential, raw, impatient—as I am—insolent even. But infinitely gentle and kind. The notion of “beautiful” means nothing to me, the “beautiful” is simply each person’s truth. The movement of a paint brush must be a slackening, a relaxation, a breath, at the heart of the equilibrium found in a life built on its own values.