A Conversation with Cuban 'Jazz Artist' Bodo Vespaciano

A Conversation with Cuban 'Jazz Artist' Bodo Vespaciano

July 09, 2018

Bodo Vespaciano was born in Cuba but due to circumstances beyond his control, he has spent his life living in many countries throughout the Western World. This condition has allowed him to view history, communities and situations in a very different light than most. He has been a soldier, a lawman and a dancer and has been able to insert his history quite well into his books, paintings and music. He calls himself a "jazz artist, of words, brushes and strings." He is adventurous and solitary, a poet and a warrior, a renaissance man and a paradox...he lives with his wife of many years, in Miami Beach, Turkey and Cuba. Bodo graduated from Florida International University, Bachelor of Arts. As an artist he has exhibited both at home and internationally - 

  • Istanbul, Turkey (2003)
  • Zaragoza, Aragon, Spain (2004)
  • New York, NY, USA (2005-2006-2007)
  • Sarasota, FL, US (2005)
  • Bradenton, FL, US (2005)
  • Miami, FL, US (2005, 2006, 2007, 2008)
  • Izmir, Turkey (2016-2017)
 Bodo Vespaciano at work in his Studio


Awards & Recognition:

  • Represented the City of Asti, Piemonte, Italy for the Sister Cities Art Exhibit in Miami, Fl, US, in 2006 and 2007.
  • Served as Artist in Residence and member of the Board of Executives of the University of Miami's "The Gallery" Art Exhibition Centre, Downtown Miami, (2006-2007).
  • Artist of the Month (September, 2006), City of Miami Art Exhibition for the Cultural Fridays project. 

Artist Statement

Art is a powerful universal language. It goes beyond the aesthetic value it possesses. Perhaps it is a window to another world that not even the artist understands for the artist catches only glimpses and then translates them into art. For me, it is as if there was a spiritual connection that guides my mind to that world, allows me to see, what it wants me to see, and then guides my hands and the result is a painting or a detailed drawing. It's supernatural. Something acts within me and guides me to transmit the message implied...and evident...in my art.

 "Amaranta Rubia", Bodo Vespaciano, Acrylic on Board, 2008


What initially drew you towards becoming an artist?

I was trained as a classical danseur and later earned a university degree in Theatre Arts. This exposed me to sets and the incredible designs that many featured and it opened my eyes to the creation of movement and music on a canvas.

How would you describe your own personal style?

I don’t think of style as something personal, I like to think of a painting as being the one and only object of my creation without concerning myself with prior utilised elements, colours or composition. I’m a Jazz painter...

What pushed you in that direction and how can you see your work evolving in the future?

I love to draw and I am developing that aspect of my work and painting, I see my work becoming more primitive, I want to use paint in a more bold manner and make the canvas more expressive in colour, mixing more, creating thicker textures et cetera.

"Faces - Red, Green, Yellow", Bodo Vespaciano, Acrylic on Board, 2005

What inspires you in your work, is there a driving factor that draws you to the easel?

Music and dance...I am inspired by improvisation.

Are there particular individuals who have encouraged / inspired you along the way, friends, family, teachers, maybe even other artists?

My wife, Gül. She has been and is my greatest source of inspiration and encouragement as well as an objective judge of my work.

When it comes to creating your work, do you have a preferred medium, certain types of brushes or tools you love to use?

Acrylic on canvas is my medium for painting. I have many new and high quality brushes but I still love the cheap brushes I bought twenty years ago when I started painting. For drawing I have many types of pencils and ink pens which I use.

"Mujer Roja", Bodo Vespaciano, Acrylic on Canvas, 45cm x 60cm, 2007

When it comes to the subject matter of your work, what draws you to those themes?

My background in dance, theatre and music. Those are my elements. But I am paradoxical as I was also a soldier...

Could you describe the process behind your art? How do you get from concept to execution?

I don’t know...I start and something takes over, like a spirit and it guides my head, sending the right messages from brain to fingers that hold the brushes...it’s like a spiritual meditative session and then I let the unfinished work talk to me and tell me what I must do to finish.

Could you describe your normal day as an artist? Have you set routines and rituals or is it more a case of when the moment is right you work?

I work in the mornings. My studio has lovely light most of the day but I like the mornings. I usually take a long walk on the beach, come home and begin drawing or painting.

"Amaranta Negra", Bodo Vespaciano, Acrylic on Board, 45cm x 60cm, 2008

When you work, do you focus on one piece at a time until completion or are you working on multiple pieces at the same time?

One piece at a time until I know it’s finished. However, my paintings take time, so in the meantime I work on pen and ink drawings.

How has your art evolved to be where it is today?

It’s constantly evolving. I cannot control that. Whenever I put brush to canvas, the process of evolution begins as well as when the pencil touches the pad. It’s unavoidable.

Which of your artworks are you most proud off?

One old one in particular which I’ll never sell. The other ones I look and learn from. Art is a message, a language and a weapon and a process to learn about yourself.

“Bailarín y Bajista” Bodo Vespaciano

Is there a fellow artist alive today that you admire? If so, why?

Yes, I admire two young artists, one, Yaniel Pirez, living and working in Cienfuegos, Cuba and two, Ailema, now working in Miami. They’re unknown at this time but I see a bright future for both of them.

If you could travel back in time, is there a particular artistic period / era that you would like to have been involved in?

Yes, I would have loved to have been in Paris at the turn of the XIXth Century.

What challenges do you feel the 21st century artist has to overcome?

To keep art (painting) a pure art, the work of the artist using brushes, paint and canvases and not to succumb to the encroachment of technology. To use technology to serve man and not to change man and turn him into the slave of advancing technology, especially AI.

What advice would you give to a young aspiring artist currently studying art?

To choose his way and to work as hard as possible. To learn to speak in the language of art and to strive, as hard as he can, to send his message to the world.

Despite having developed your own distinctive style, is their another style of art that you are immediately drawn towards and admire? Why?

I enjoy realism within a surrealistic setting and I also thoroughly enjoy the art of the great masters of Europe’s Renaissance.

"Compostela", Bodo Vespaciano, Acrylic on Canvas, 50.8cm x 76.2cm, 2017


We have all heard of the unfinished masterpiece, even Da Vinci laboured away at the Mona Lisa for years and years, have you works that are in a continual process of evolution? When working on an artwork do you find it hard to let go? Knowing when enough is enough?

It’s uncanny but I listen to the painting and when it says ‘not a brushstroke more,’ I pay attention. It’s not really uncanny to me, for me it’s a spiritual experience.

Many people see artists as storytellers or advocates for a cause, do you believe that it is an artist’s responsibility to shine a light on a particular subject / theme, or do you create purely for the sake of expression your creative nature?

Although I believe in being involved in the politics of your environment, I work to express my message only.

What are you working on at the moment?

“JaZzArT,” a series of pen/ink and graphite drawings which expound upon the topic of jazz music, jazz players and the meaning of jazz, which is improvisation, the development of a theme and the player being the composer...those are the elements I use to draw.

Have you ever been part of an artistic group / movement? How did your work benefit from that experience?

I’m a lone wolf, I guess...


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