Sandra Zebi hails from Sao Paulo, Brazil, a city known as a center of commerce and industry. And, in fact, she took a degree in industrial design before moving, first to London and then to Los Angeles. But Zebi, as she likes to call herself, is an artist, one who combines functionality with form and color, the bright sunlit color of her native land.
Zebi has just opened her studio-showroom, Zebi Designs, on Beach Avenue in Marina Del Rey. She displays her creations – ceramics and paintings – in the front showroom, where one immediately sees the color palette of the Brazilian coast. Strong medium blue with a touch of green, leaf green, sun yellow, bold orange and red tones leap out from acrylic paintings and dinnerware sets.
Zebi paints her wares first and then fires them twice – a technique approximating the art of majolica first practiced in Renaissance Italy. It’s a risky venture – if the heat is the wrong temperature, the ceramics can crack. Suffice it to say that in the hands of an expert, the wares emerge from the kiln looking like many-colored jewels.
She readily acknowledges the influence of Picasso (she has a postcard in which she is embracing Picasso’s waxen image at Madame Tussaud’s), but also attributes her style to Brazil’s strong African culture.
Since coming to live in LA, Zebi has done several public art projects that incorporate her cultural vision. These include a mural for the Brazilian Mall shopping center in Culver City, a wall painting for the Brazilian Consulate in Los Angeles and a sculpture for Inglewood’s City Hall.
Zebi’s designs can brighten up any home. Dinner sets ($75) feature a design motif. One set features a Picasso-style face divided into four sections, which stares up from a triangular plate, a long oval dish and a series of vases and jars. Another set is decorated with the face and figure of a woman with a long neck, short black hair, closed eyes and faintly smiling lips, a black, pink and white jazz baby on a white background.
Place mats ($15) feature designs such as a vivid yellow sunflower on a purple background and a gold coffee cup (brimming with brown Brazilian coffee) against a backdrop of blue sky and white clouds.
Speaking of coffee, mugs ($25) feature smaller versions of the designs painted on the dinner sets. There are also clocks ($75) made from painted plates and a curvy painted ceramic table lamp.
Zebi Designs will be a working studio where Zebi will mold, paint and fire her ceramic wares and where she will sell her ceramics and paintings, as well as exhibit works by other artists. Her opening reception on November 18 offered refreshments (Brazilian finger foods) and Brazilian music, and she promises more such events in the future. Living once again in an area characterized by industry, Zebi Designs lights up the street with a taste of Brazil at carnival time.
Zebi Designs, 13373 Beach Avenue, Marina Del Rey, 310.301.4497, www.sandrazebi.com.