Embrace your inner “Pessoabeauty” with Victor Narumi

Celebrating creativity beyond consumption with Vitor Narumi’s colourful, mind-blowing make-up transformations.

“For me, beauty is an invention of a place inside of yourself. Beauty is only a tool to express your identity to the fullest.”

Twenty-three-year-old Vitor Narumi is from Mogi das Cruzes, the interior of the metropolis of  São Paulo, Brasil. 

The transgender artist now lives in the centre of São Paulo and from a very early age had a lot of problems expressing himself due to his dyslexia. This resulted in him visiting a speech therapist for several years. This neurodiversity stopped him from being able to verbally express himself truly but he found other ways to do so.

“I started to express myself through visual aspects very early because of that adversity, so whenever I could I’d draw and paint.”

“Being an artist wasn’t on my horizon, even as a teenager, because being someone who wasn’t from the city I had no idea that was reachable. But I used to always make sure I’d do some artworks until I could get some money from it.”

“It’s funny because, as I talk to you, I start to remember and even by talking about it I can’t really explain the dimensions of my journey and where I still wanna go.”

“Being from a small town put a target on my back. The repression on the streets was very real, like verbal aggression, gossip and even persecution. The verbal aggression used to come mainly from very religious people, that saw me as the devil or someone who was possessed or whatever.”

“There were insane stories about me and the constant persecution from older men, who actually spoke very openly about following me on the streets. By the way, I was still in high school at the time, even younger!”

The kinds of taunts and abuse Vitor suffered halted his decision to come out as a trans person because subconsciously he knew the torment would be much worse and it was.

“It’s been 5 years since I’ve been living in the centre of the city of São Paulo and the prejudice here isn’t so explicit, people here hide it a little more.”

“But coming back to my town and meeting people as a trans person is always terrifying. Even being away from the place where I suffered the most, where all of the physical and verbal assaults happened, I always say that’s where I was born and grew up. Because that’s where I created myself to understand who I am in the big city.”

Vitor began going to clubs since he was 12-years-old and through this, he appropriated the “clubber aesthetic” as a teenager and soon it became more than the way he looked, but more how he chose to live. When he turned 20, he noticed that the aesthetic he now embraced was an attempt at resistance, about not only being a creature of the night but wanting to live that way through the day. 

“That is why I describe my work as a performance of my being. But that doesn’t mean I abandoned the club life because it is one of the few places where I find myself as someone who exists, where I can be a queen, a king or a beast.”

Vitor studied and now has a Bachelor’s in Visual Arts which has benefited and developed the way he creates his masterpieces. 

“Through my Bachelor’s I realized I am really meticulous, be it in my installation work, performances or video art or whatever, I always have a process that is quite systematic, that originates from a very well thought objective that throughout the process I only polish so that it doesn’t really change my routes.”

Vitor has a point of intersection in everything he does by starting from the principle of what he wants to talk about, which is the experience of the body. Specifically the body outside of the heteronormative pattern. That way he chooses if he’s going to make an installation, a video, digital art, performance, etc. 

“And then I establish a plan of situations that I put in front of me to understand how people deal with the presence of my body.”

“An example of it was the installation work I made in 2019 as my thesis, called “Calcinha Camisinha” or condom underwear. I went to the main desk of a health centre that had expert knowledge of STD/HIV asking about three things: information, quick tests and external condoms.” 

This  was a very unpleasant experience for Vitor who felt he had no direction was treated very badly and got kicked out because “I didn’t need any of it.” 

After explaining he was a trans person he saw the confusion on their faces because trans people are considered the biggest group at risk of getting STD/HIV. Due to benign denied external condoms and only being offered internal ones, Vitor came up with this installation.

His work originates from an experience his body has gone through, which he puts himself in, consciously to get answers to what he is seeking. 

“The whole process of the aesthetics and my “beauty” wasn’t really like that. For it, I didn’t set precedents, I wanted to make whatever I wanted, to go out however I wanted and to live without thinking about it. I wanted to reinvent myself and invent a new place where I belonged.”

As a kid Vitor hated his eyes and how small they were, how he didn’t have double eyelids like everyone else. To make them look bigger he wore makeup and used glue and stickers to give the double eyelid effect. 

“The worst moment was when I had to take it all off and see it was all an illusion, a dream that was washing away as I sweat or cried. It took a long process for me not to hate my eyes anymore, how small they were or how dark their colours were.”

“The makeup was never a place of beauty, but a place of illusion. After years I realized that makeup could be a place of transgression, aggressive to the norms. But even with that impact, when I started I wanted to transmit the illusion of what I felt like internally. Being me, represented in the external shelf of my body, as a metaphor.” 

Vitor mentions how his friends inspire parts of his work as they were the ones that welcomed him into the nights of São Paulo and pushed him to develop his PessoaBeauty project. 

“My friends from the Cyberpunk scene, as MortoVivo, Losteea_, Cyshimi, Chica Sintetaz, PedraPreta, Inserto, Demonia, Luara Pedonati and VihdeLeo. People that attend and create with me for the night, to resist outside of it, especially through the pandemic.”

“Specifically about my art and aesthetics, my inspirations are drawings and photos of the diversity of moth genitalia from José Oiticica Filho, or the images I find at the collection of bugs in the natural history museums. The patterns of moth genitalia, most of the time are symmetric or seem like an abstract drawing, are part of my studies of face compositions or forms of flat structures in a neon colour.”

“I can’t leave Kafka’s Metamorphosis out, and Christine Greiner’s Fabulations of the Japanese Body, who inspired the ideas that created the PessoaBeauty project. Both of them say a lot about the body of a person transformed in concrete illusions, in which you do not question the origin or the truth of it, you start on the situation of the experience.”

“In the beginning, I used to experiment with what is considered the opposite of how to make beauty. If there was a pattern of what to do when putting on makeup, I used to do the opposite. I’m not talking about the products, I’m talking about the way to use them and how you create the illusions of perception, contouring and lighting.”

One Vitor understood the possibilities he could chase, he began to determine the pattern of colours.

“I determined that neon and its reflective colours was what I needed to not be invisible even during the day, but especially at night. The black dots are an illusion just like my dark eyes, but totally alert. I invented a being with the characteristics of a bug.

Vitor creates these abstract makeup styles with the expectation to cause discomfort in people. He wants his work to shock people as an earthquake would on a random day. 

“I want to go unnoticed in the street cameras, but not by the people who surround me.”

Vitor in his upcoming Pessoabeauty project

Vitor’s beauty and drag are appreciated and complimented more in clubs that have transfree policies such as, Sangra Muta, Mamba Negram ODD and Chernobyl.

“But from my house to the party I have been assaulted with verbal and physical violence. It can be because someone thought I was funny, or because they feel repulsed, or even hatred.”

“The way back home can be as aggressive as before. At one point I almost got hit by a bus, because the driver consciously came upon the sidewalk shouting and swearing at me, outside of the vehicle.”

“That’s why I don’t have positive expectations about people’s reactions, because most of them are absurd and that is why I only do this beauty on the people that know the consequences and have allowed themselves to be who they are, in a way of resisting.

“I say that this beauty has been a political movement since its existence. Since our bodies are considered gender terrorists, I say we make ourselves visible and we mark our presence.”

As of now, Vitor is working as a teacher, giving lectures and workshops and during his free time, he is working on developing the PessoaBeauty project which will be released by the end of May. PessoaBeauty will be a zine made from the photoshoots of the project, including many looks at an affordable cost.

“I describe my work as a performance of my being, that is for me a way to live. Even before I came out as a trans person I saw myself as an LGBT+ person.”

“For me, beauty is an invention of a place inside of yourself. Beauty is only a tool to express your identity to the fullest. I always feel beautiful, all the time, I love my body. For me is about when I feel I am at the peak of expressing my identity, which is always by my beauty.”

“I don’t pretend to think that I can change the world. But I know that whenever a person approaches me with curiosity, it is always real between me and that person. It is an opening for the possibility of destructing the imagination of someone’s world.”

“ I am a being that wanders the streets, just by having my body occupying somewhere during the day is transgressive.” 

You can follow Vitor Narumi and see his beautiful work for yourself on Instagram (@vitornarumi)