This portrait of my wife began with an analogous color study (I still remember the title of the assignment from my 1984 design 101). The undertones consist of neutral gray, white and magenta rendered in a combination of dry brush and water techniques. Scrapes and pencil scribbles activate the plane with energy and texture. The high contrast black facial forms take on a stencil quality pioneered by Warhol and still alive and well in the work of street artists. (In case you were wondering, I don’t always think of my wife in such analytical terms.)
‘Zinnia‘ © 2016 Carlos Aleman
Acrylic on Canvas
I just finished this painting today. I went on Wikipedia to see if there was anything interesting I could mention on my blog about this flower and…
‘In January 2016, NASA announced that a zinnia which had blossomed on the International Space Station was the first flower ever grown outside the Earth’s biosphere. This claim was quickly refuted by news media.’ [Wikipedia]
What a coincidence.
‘Morning Tree’ © 2016 Carlos Aleman
36″ x 24″ Acrylic on Canvas
Morning Tree was inspired by the work of Joichi Hoshi, which I have been admiring quite a bit lately. The struggling Japanese artist created woodblock prints of what I think were exceedingly ethereal depictions of trees. I based this painting of a photograph I took by a lake with my phone. I found it an interesting challenge to translate the green leaves and sepia tones of branches to white, representing light with echoes of Willam Blake.
‘……whether it is a single tree or a forest……..the mere thought of it stirs my mind, and I try to convey that sentiment in a picture.’ —Joichi Hoshi
(Thanks to Michael for this quote)
‘Still Another Day’
(Acrylic on Canvas)
My first painting of the year is of infinite petals, a flower expressing what words cannot.
Thoughts of Japanese Shironuri fashion and Georgia O’Keeffe combine strangely for me in my mind.
There is also the feeling of ‘mono no aware’ I have for real flowers. They represent all things that are born, reach perfection, but eventually die. In this life cycle, each stage has its own beauty. This bloom, however is not real. It is both eternal and timeless. More and more, I want to represent what is not real – the haunting apparition of the imagination.
My last painting of 2015 features a young lady half concealing her identity with her hand. The figure is illuminated by a tranquil landscape with a crescent moon reflecting in the still waters. The mountainous horizon seems arranged like a Japanese rock garden, a nighttime city projected upon the scene, city lights shining behind and through the figure.
I see this painting as a transition towards my evolving vision of divine love through iconography inspired by the perennial tradition of artists attempting to do the same. As with Botticelli’s nude Venus expressing spiritual and intellectual beauty through physical representation, I hope my work can be seen in the same way — lifting the mind to higher awareness and seeing past the illusion of separateness.
In the coming year, I would like to further explore these themes. If you’re half the cynic as I am, you may be interested in my dark chocolate approach to life. I fully accept the following truths: There is more good than bad in people. It is possible to see the best in everyone. It is especially beneficial to fall in love with what is different, strange and even the opposite of what we are or believe.
The word Maya, is often translated as illusion. The meaning of the word more accurately conveys the ‘trickiness’ of life. May 2016 bring and end to more illusions. Just as the Ebola hysteria and fear mongering by the media passes, so do the things that frighten us and cause us to perceive life wrongly. Wish me luck in the coming year as I attempt to practice the disciplines of non-judgment and love. And may your life be also free of all illusion.
I had the pleasure and honor of being interviewed by WPBT, Channel 2 for Art Loft today (9/1/15). The art program is a collaboration between WPBT2 and other PBS stations around the country. I explained the concept of ‘Dark Chocolate’ and talked about my paintings and kokeshi dolls. The program will air in a few months.
I’d like to thank the many people that attended the opening night reception to launch my new art exhibit, Dark Chocolate Japan. Despite the bad weather and a tropical storm looming, there was a huge turnout. I’m very appreciative of the support and warm wishes of those who couldn’t attend —I felt you there in spirit.
Thank you, City of Sunrise, Florida, for sponsoring and hosting my second exhibition in three years. I’m forever indebted to your kindness and assistance.
A special thanks to Sweet Charity’s Bakery for providing the dark chocolate cupcakes, the perfect alternative to tasting dark chocolate paintings.
With a few months until an exhibit, I was compelled to reinvent and push myself to do more with less time. I purchased twelve large pre-stretched canvases and began a frenzied attempt to paint in the style of conceptual realism, departing from my usual loose brushstrokes and drawings. My new acrylic renderings were, in a sense, a return to the simple appreciation of the old masters and the post-modern painters that still examine realism.
I still vividly remember the criticisms of Andrew Wyeth, namely that he was an illustrator and not a true artist because his work was realistic in a time of modernity. Within the context of art periods, the ‘wrong’ style can have grave consequences. However, the art world’s acceptance of artists like Gerhard Richter who have painted realistically gives me hope that my work might find more acceptance. Even Wyeth’s name is appearing in art news with more frequency.
A touch of magical realism, for example, stylized clouds leaping from clothes to the negative space surrounding the subject, further brings the piece closer to conceptual realism, a term that has been used to describe art that attempts to express the unexplainable through realism. Since normal human thought and analysis can’t grasp non-conceptual thinking, I suppose art is naturally the ultimate vehicle to communicate the infinite.
The painting featured in this post, American Geisha No. 1, is an unapologetic obsession with feminine beauty—simple, straightforward and universal—the subject is a symbol for love and splendor. Note the tresses, shaped like a butterfly, the representation of transformation. After all, change is what we should all wish for, the dark chocolate way of perceiving the world—find what is opposite and fall in love. In a time of heightened racial tensions in America, falling in love with diversity, perhaps deeply, may be our only hope.
My Curve the Cube podcast began one Saturday morning when I arrived at a Hilton DoubleTree to meet Jaime (“Jemmy”) Legagneur (who I happen to think is a future mega star). She was sitting in the lobby with all her gear, including the funny looking recorder with twin microphones. But just as I was arriving, it seemed a mob of people followed me into the building. The interview began almost immediately, but soon we had to find a quieter place to talk. Jemmy’s fascination with talking to a painter/author brought an energy to her questions that led me through a natural flow of summarizing what dark chocolate is, as well as my life as an artist. It was nice to be able to talk about both my novels and visual art and how they sometimes tie into each other.
You can listen to the podcast by clicking on this link: