Avocations: The paintings of Dr. Eduardo Mendes

Early on Dr. Eduardo Mendes thought he wanted to be an architect. But he ended up choosing to study physics because of what he calls its “hidden beauty”.

Originally from Brazil, the associate professor studied quantum optics before moving to France to pursue his PhD. “I was doing hard core theory,” says Mendes. “Then I saw a picture of a laser beam cutting through gel and I was fascinated.”

As part of the Faculty of Chemical Engineering at TU Delft since 2003, Mendes’ research now focuses on Functional Soft Matter. He explained that soft matter is a term invented in the 1970’s to encompass materials and systems that are present in everyday life, but are not well defined to our senses. “Gel is ambiguous. It looks solid on a large scale, but is 95% liquid material and still behaves like a liquid inside,” he says.

While talking to Mendes, it is clear that he loves what he does and wants to make a difference. He tries to use his knowledge in soft matter for health-related products. “I feel rewarded as a person when I discuss something with a doctor that treats real patients,” he says. “It feels like I am fulfilling a social mission.”

But there is another passion that Mendes pursues outside of science. “Art has always been there for me,” he said. As a child of 12 or 13 he used to make sculptures out of soap. Through the years he would tell his friends that he had a need to create art. He even bought painting materials at many points of his life, but never did anything with them. That is until 2006 when he attended a TU Delft course at the Culture Centre. He never studied in a formal setting or learned traditional techniques, but the person running this workshop coached him and others to sort of free their artistic inner ability.

Mendes’ self-learned talent is expressed through paintings created with latex, acrylic, chalk and collage. He explained that when he starts a painting he doesn’t know what it will be named. Although his works are somewhat abstract, he likes order and what he describes as controlled spontaneity. He seeks to find a layer between the conscious and unconscious.

“I don’t paint to feel good,” Mendes said. “I paint when I feel good.” He explained that painting doesn’t happen when he is stressed by work and he has to be in the right state of mind. And he believes that everyone has their own creative algorithm. “For me, painting is not a hobby or a sport,” he stated,”it’s something I need to do.”

Avocations is a new series from Delta highlighting the hobbies of TU Delft staff and students. Do you have a hobby you’d like to share or know someone who does? Send us an email at

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