Cannes Lions

This Creative Director Runs an Art Gallery in His Home

Leo Macias and Thais Marin Open a São Paulo Space for Creatives Who Are Artists Too

By Published on .

When Leo Macias wants to visit an art gallery, he just has to walk across his living room. He and his wife, Thais Marin, opened the ApArt Private Gallery almost two years ago in their spacious eighth-floor apartment in São Paulo.

Thais Marin and Leo Macias with guest in lion head
Thais Marin and Leo Macias with guest in lion head Credit: Photos courtesy ApArt

Mr. Macias, who joined Brazil's DM9 DDB a year ago as creative director following seven years at Publicis, is also an artist himself and an art collector.

"It was going to be a studio, then we said 'No, an art gallery,' and why not exhibit the work of advertising creatives who are artists?" said Ms. Marin, a former agency account exec who recently joined Disney. Not all the artists work in the ad industry, but those who do are often frustrated by clients fiddling with their ideas. She said, "No one is going to change their work [here]."

And they had the perfect place. "I bought the apartment five years ago, and people said 'Your apartment is like an art gallery'," said Mr. Macias.

The pair have curated a dozen shows since opening ApArt in August 2013, with 15-day intervals to prepare the next show (see slideshow of their home and gallery below). Each kicks off with an opening event for up to 200 people, with some kind of performance. Art usually sells for between $430 and $3,400, with the most expensive piece so far going for $43,000.

When Seu Jorge, a leading Brazilian musician, performed at ApArt, his team built a stage in the living room. Another singer and songwriter, Maria Gadú, opted to cook dinner in the couple's kitchen, because singing would have been the obvious thing to do.

Mr. Macias curated a photography exhibition called "New York Under" by inviting creatives from agencies including Almap BBDO and WPP digital agency who had been to New York to submit their photographs showing the city "in a completely different way."

One participant, André Gola, a cartoonist and creative director at Almap BBDO, went on to have his first one-man show last fall at ApArt.

"For the first time, I was showing my own personal work, and not advertising," Mr. Gola said. "It was very motivating." Besides the thrill of selling his work, he's had several commissions since his show, including designing shirts for the Choix boutique owned by Marcio Ribas, Neogama BBH's creativie director.

Mr. Macias' own eclectic work is on display, including "Individual Paradises," a series of colored clouds made from wood, rubber and plaster and fastened to the ceiling (see slideshow). They recreate the experience of gazing at clouds as a child and imagining the worlds within. A shoe, with clouds painted on the sole, is on display on a nearby wall. It's the shoe Mr. Macias wore when he arrived in Sao Paulo from his native Colombia 20 years ago, and it reminds him "you have to always be taking a step upward."

The ApArt gallery doesn't have official hours, but visits can be scheduled at, and Brazilian media increasingly recommend a visit to ApArt.

Coming up: The next show is by Bia Tambelli, best known for her oil paintings of nude women done over photographs, starting July 2. And Mr. Macias and Ms. Marin hope to bring an artist-in-residence from the U.S. later this year to live and work in their apartment-gallery for two weeks.

A huge 50-year-old blue wooden front door leads into Leo Macias' and Thais Marin's apartment.
The open-plan living space is full of the couple's colorful collections.
A temporary stage was built here for Brazilian musician Seu Jorge to perform; the 46 origami birds by the window were part of the set.
An alcove contains both a mini wine cellar and shelves holding hundreds of female saints.
A glass door leads from the living room into the gallery space.
Each gallery show has an opening party.
One show was Mr. Macias' own work; the clouds on the ceiling are part of "Individual Paradises."

Photos courtesy of ApArt Private Gallery

Most Popular