One of my ultimate goals for this weekly Friday 5 feature on my blog is to give some exposure to people I feel have so much talent that everyone should know about them. This week, I shift from books and music to the world of art with a feature on Enrique Figueredo. I’ve known about Enrique’s art for about eight years now and his work has never ceased to amaze me. I’m absolutely blown away when I see what he’s working on. What I like the most about his work is the political and social overtones evident in his work. He has a keen eye and a sharp wit about his art. Also, as a native of Venezuela, his art is strongly influenced by Latin American culture.
Throughout this blog, I’ve posted pictures of some of Enrique’s favorite pieces, as well as some of my favorites as well. I strongly encourage all of you to click through to his website so you can experience just how talented this rising star in the fine art world really is.
1) What is it about the arts that hooked you?
I was not the sensitive special art kid in high school that everyone left alone. Believe it or not, I was excellent at Chemistry and Math, and to be honest, that’s where my career interests used to lie. I wanted to make money for my family. I even went to college for that shit. I was obsessed with graffiti though, too, at the time. I would fill up sketch books, get easy As taking art classes as electives, go tagging; but I always knew I wasn’t going to disappoint the family by pursuing life in the arts. It wasn’t until I returned to Caracas for the first time in 1998 that I realized the power and poetry of art. Sure, you can go to the MET and the MOMA and be moved. I cried in front of Starry Night once. But when I saw the politically driven murals in the Caracas streets – guns and dictators, Simon Bolivar and Monarchs – crossed out with red spray paint, over and over with insulting phrases, commies and pigs, beautifully painted workers, both men and women, on concrete, set in this third world bustling city, I was blown away. The art was alive. You don’t see that here in the States. I asked to go to the Museo the Bellas Artes and saw that Venezuelan artists actually existed, specially Arturo Michelena who could paint like Goya but is relatively unknown. It sounds cliché but the truth is I wanted to represent my country. I knew I could draw and I was already a fan of self-expression. I dropped out of the Chemistry program at SUNY Oswego as soon as I got home and applied to Purchase School of Art and Design. I got accepted.
2) Who are your major influences and what can people expect from your work?
Let’s see. There are so many. When I think of pure genius and raw emotion it’s always Jean-Michel Basquiat. When I am inspired to paint I think of Le Fauves, the wild beasts, Andre Derain and Kees van Dongen. When I think of content I think of Jacob Lawrence, Robert Colescott and Diego Rivera. When I think of color I think of Bob Thompson, Lyonel Feininger, Ernest Ludwig Kirchner and Max Beckmann. When I think of lines I think of Picasso, Willem de Kooning, Philip Guston and Louise Bourgeois. That’s my intellectual side. I can’t forget the immense never-ending influence of daily life, bad world news and technology. You can expect the unexpected from my work. Two words that I associate with my work are loaded and texture. It’s always a destructive process. I’m not a careful or realistic artist; I am politically charged, sexually psychotic and surreal. I think my work reflects these feelings by my use of reckless line and stroke, bright color and sometimes disjointed imagery.
3) What has been your proudest accomplishment thus far in your professional arts career?
I’ve never had gallery representation. I’ve been doing this art thing solo, working my way up slowly but surely, always with the help of my friends and family. I was an artist in residence on Canyon Road in Santa Fe, New Mexico where I had my second solo show in 2010. The show was titled In 3’s, 3 prints from each woodblock that I would then paint over, leaving one original and two defaced prints. Print makers, for the most part, print editions – 50 to 100 from each block or plate at a time. I kind of did away with tradition and said fuck it, let’s make these one of a kind. The first proud feeling came when the show was packed. We are talking early November in New Mexico and no snow yet. This was short of a miracle. People left their house. I had done my job advertising and putting up flyers and updating my Facebook, blah blah blah. The shit no artist wants to do, but does it because they are hungry. Proud moment number two was when I got my first sale. And then a second, and then a sixth, I sold six out of twelve pieces on my opening night, never having sold a piece of art at a show before, ever. Even at my solo show in 2009. What made me proud was not the money, it was the growth of an artist…me developing.
4) If folks are interested in picking up some of your work, how would they go about doing that?
Just email me or Facebook me or text me or technology me, plus me, tweet me, tumble me, instagram me, I don’t know. Go to my website enriquefigueredo.com, look at some art, click on my email and drop me a line.
5) Any last words?
Is it bad that I can’t stop listening to Imagine by John Lennon?