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I started painting ideas, emotions, concepts, elaborated with research on the subject matter and on how to plastically express them. My subject matters clearly were derived from objects that retain strong references to the real world expecting to stimulate the thought to come up in controversy. My artwork was an answer to questions from the current social context, from the real world, incubated in my mind and carefully elaborated on canvas.
I have selected my visual language from art “ism” like figurative, and abstract as a tools or mechanism to represent my creation, for instance, the only way I found to paint Double Flame (one of my first paintings), which was conceived from La Llama Double, book by Octavio Paz, was mixing figurative + abstract + surrealism.
I have expressed my ideas with a map as art, and with iconic first nation symbols for my first solo show “And we Calle it Home”. The land was the subject matter (appropriation and eviction, unfair eviction) and how the land initially designated to agriculture or forest was used for real estate development because of the growing population and city expansion. I worked the second solo show in the same direction. I stated the idea that first nation fingerprinted on their land transcended time and their iconic symbols are represented in the way the streets were built in the City of Vancouver, specifically in the east side.
A new subject matter came relevant when people started asking about the way I manage my technical full-time job as an engineer and doing art. I elaborated my ideas with a series “The Edge of my Brain”, in which graphically represented the solution of mathematical equations or a graphic-colour of words in binary code.
I had missed the sculpture in my artistic practice and explored this field again mixing painting and sculpture. I created the series “Frontier” a triptych that includes 3D elements and as series bas-relief “Cabriole”, a white figure of dancers made on pure oil on canvas. These 3D representations have been more of an exploration to do a work between painting and sculpture.
I currently have been nesting the ideas from early nineteenth century about the role of art in creating beauty, and the voice of Emmanuel Kant about beauty “which without any concept is cognized as the object of necessary satisfaction” and on making art free from content and subject matter, to make the art real on its own qualities. I practically looking to be centred on the formalism of colour, composition, line, shape, texture and in some cases the social context. I currently do art to please my inner satisfaction to create forms no attached to a subject matter, and leaving the interpretation open, as Umberto Eco expressed as “open work”, leaving the viewer the completion of the artwork with one point in common, its inner essence of being liked.
My historical work on canvas has been an exploration of a detailed figurative art to a mix of figurative with abstract elements. I have selected different styles to represent my message and ideas, styles were more a tool than a way of doing my art. In the beginning, I expected controversial dialogue, conversation, the discussion around my pieces, and barely people read the statement, viewers want to see and express what they like, and walked away from “irrelevant”. The “Like” has become the way people “select” (no express) their position on something they see, it might be the influence of social media and the proliferation of images.
Juan E. Contreras
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