"I am mostly interested in medical imagery; there is so much material to work with. The images are visceral, slippery, and cause an instant gut reaction. They make me aware of my body, my insides and my temporality."
Could you tell us a bit about yourself. How long have you been a practising artist and where did you study?
I was born and raised in Miami FL to Dominican parents.
When I turned 18 years old I moved to New York with about $500 dollars in my pocket. After couch surfing and working odd jobs, I managed to last 10 years in the City. I had a studio in NY, I would use my studio to paint but I never tried to show my work. At this point I never had any training or confidence, I really just painted for myself. Since I was a kid I always had a compulsion to create and it just never stopped.
My best friend who is an artist came to visit me in NY and saw my work, she convinced me to apply to art school. On my next visit to Miami I applied for my BA at New World School of the Arts, I was accepted and I moved back to Miami, I completed my BA in 2010. I then was involved in a car accident, which oddly enough granted me some money to move to London in 2012 to attend Goldsmiths University for my Masters, I graduated in 2014. I currently live in London.
Could you tell us about your digital works, where are these images sourced?
The idea started when I was scrolling through social media I would stumble across several images that were quite disturbing. The images varied from PETA images to strange viral stories to medical procedures and illness.
I wanted to find a way to sit with the images rather than quickly scroll through them. I wanted to give them a new life, a new existence but without losing the essence of what they were. I went from stumbling upon these images on my news feed to actively looking for them online, I now have a nice collection of pictures.
I am mostly interested in medical imagery; there is so much material to work with. The images are visceral, slippery, and cause an instant gut reaction. They make me aware of my body, my insides and my temporality. With the day-to-day monotony of life it’s so easy to forget that we are made of these parts that will someday malfunction and die.
Your paintings are full of these strange organic forms. Could you tell us the thoughts behind these shapes and how they relate to your digital work?
The shapes mimic the forms of the original imagery; they are not trying to replicate instead they are mimicking. The forms I make are flat, 2 dimensional, almost like comic book drawings with areas of texture, painterly forms and intricate marks. The marks look as if they are created digitally but they are not. At times I use the paint to put emphasis on a form, add depth or flatten out an area. I am interested in the conversation between painting techniques and digital techniques.
There are several painting effects on digital software that I use; I then mimic these effects using paint creating a discussion between the two mediums. For example I use the oil paint effect on Photoshop, I then use paint to mimic the effect. The reason I say mimic and not replicate is because neither medium is successful in producing an exact copy of the other.
I also add geometric forms; these forms allude to the mechanical, the mathematical in contrast to the organic forms. Together they create a sense of cybernetics. I am interested in oppositions, such as organic vs mechanical, manual vs digital and humour vs tragedy.
What artwork have you seen recently that has resonated with you?
This wasn’t too recent but an exhibition that impacted me the most was “The killing machine & other stories” by Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller. I saw this exhibition in Miami back in 2007 it still haunts me.
There were several rooms with installations that gave the viewer a different experience in each room. I couldn’t pin point if the installations felt like they were from the past or the future, it was a combination of both, time stood still. This exhibition made me really sad, I loved it.
What do you hope the viewer gains/reacts from looking at your work?
I want the viewer to be interested enough to spend time with the work and not dismiss it. Whether the viewer is uncomfortable with the work or finds humour in it, I’m happy with that, as long as they are not indifferent.
Tell us a bit about how you spend your day/studio routine, what is your studio like?
I head to the studio around 1 pm and either I work on something I have started or I play with materials until something interesting happens. I do not believe in waiting for inspiration, if I waited for inspiration nothing would get done. I have a day job; I work 4 days a week. I also take care of my elderly father in law; so on my days off I need to make the most of that time. I spend at least 8 – 10 hours in my studio on my days off.
I just landed a new studio at Thames Side Studios; I’m very excited I move in a few weeks. It’s a beautiful and large space, it is ready for my mess.
What does the future hold for you as an artist? Is there anything new and exciting in the pipeline you would like to tell us about?
My collaborative GROK has a video up on the big screen at the Focal Point Gallery and we are releasing an album this year.
I am currently in the process of co curating a painting show. I have some other prospects but they are not yet confirmed. 2017 is looking promising.
Images courtesy of the artist and Griffin Gallery
Interview publishing date: 09/02/17