"Art is to play as life unfolds, to question tradition and the status quo, playing, always playing, the most revolutionary thing we can do nowadays." - Gerardo Gomez
Gerardo Gomez is an artist from El Salvador, whose paintings are immediately recognisable due to their energetic nature and bold use of colour. His work often confronts the issues of everyday life both on a personal and social level. This is a richness of expression to his work. He has exhibited his artworks at home in El Salvador as well as in Europe, the Middle East and the United States of America.
He works mostly on figurative paintings with a lot of attention to colour, composition and expression based in the observation and appreciation of our everyday life, our society, politics, our experience as humans beings in this present moment.
What initially drew your towards becoming an artist?
Painting and drawing has always been the thing I enjoy doing the most and I feel I have an innate desire to be creative and it is something I want to commit to all my life.
How would you describe your own personal style?
In a way it is like that of a child playing with colours and painting onto a canvas, spontaneous, raw, zany, wildly coloured. When it comes to describing my own personal style, looking back at the last ten years I can see how it has been influenced by various elements such as street art, underground comics, surrealism and even the energy and colours of psychedelic art. But I don't want to be locked down into one particular style. My creative journey to date has been one of evolution and transformation. We are all on a similar journey, alive but working our way towards death. Life is about experience and learning, observing and feeling the world around us and encompassing all those elements into our own personal journey. Everything changes, everybody changes and it is through experimentation and the willingness to play that my work continues to evolve in a manner that mirrors my playful attitude towards life. To commit to a particular style would be committing to a particular moment in time and never moving forward, never learning. Learning and experimenting is important if I want to keep evolving as an artist and person.
What pushed you in that direction and how can you see you work evolving in the future?
I don't believe society wants to make life a problem, that said, we take life and our self too seriously, I'm curious about life, about this journey towards death, my paintings will register that process.
What inspires you in your work, is there a driving factor that draws you to the easel?
Painting is what I love to do, so is very easy to go and paint something, life inspires me, love is the driving factor.
Are there particular individuals who have encouraged / inspired you along the way, friends, family, teachers, maybe even other artists?
From a very young age I was drawn towards different forms of expression and communication, creative forms such as music and poetry appealed to me, but it was painting and drawing that resonated most personally with me. My older sister helped forge this creativity by encouraging it through elements of play where we would draw, paint, in fact, anything that exercised my creative nature. As I matured I began reading about art and can remember some of the first books were based on movements from the early 20th century such as Surrealism, Dadaism and the Avant Garde movement. This interest in exploring art through reading later led me down the path towards Art Brut, Street Art and the illustrative work of underground comics, spaces that do not necessarily fall within the category of Fine Art, but for me personally I see art as a sort of freedom, a platform of free expression.
When it comes to creating your work, do you have a preferred medium, certain types of brushes or tools you love to use?
My preferred medium is acrylic on canvas. Most of my work is based on that medium, even though I have made a lot of work with different mediums, spray paint, collage, oils, pastels. I use brushes, sometimes I glue things.
When it comes to the subject matter of your work, what draws you to those themes?
There are a lot of different subject matters, sometimes inspired by the everyday life, politics, things I've been thinking or discussing with friends, sometimes it comes from my imagination. I very much feel that art is a game, much like life. We were all born with a blank canvas to which we can apply the colour of our own lives. But as we grow and develop we can start putting up barriers to our own creativity, creating walls that hold us back as a result of education, customs and traditions, family beliefs and societal pressure. I think all artists are born with the belief that all outcomes are possible, seeing the world as a place of great discovery rather than as a series of problems. Life is to be marveled at and despite all the trash that gets put into our head by the system, I feel a need to live, play and create on a daily basis.
Could you describe the process behind your art? How do you get from concept to execution?
Most of the time, in my most recent work, I don't have a concept first, not even a sketch, I just start painting directly onto the canvas and let the painting start developing by itself and see if it suggests something. In older work at the beginning I did drew on the canvas first or did a sketch or had a concept beforehand.
Could you describe your normal day as an artist? Have you set routines and rituals or is a more a case of when the moment is right you work?
I don't really have any kind of rituals, sometimes I stay at home, might meet friends or even just venture out alone to explore. I don't think an artists day is any different to most peoples, except maybe through the need for us to be mentally alert to our surroundings, awake in the moment to the sights, sounds, smells, feelings and emotions that surround us. The key is to observe, to take the events of everyday life without judgement or preconceptions. We wake up and go to sleep pretty much like everyone else, although I tend to be more creative at night time.
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?
I start with several pieces, doing brushstrokes and stains of painting until I see something in any of them, then I start developing and focusing on each one at a time.
Which of your artworks are you most proud off?
I couldn't mention just one, every single artwork has helped me to discover something new or different.
Is there a fellow artist alive today that you admire? If so, why?
I admire many of the older artist from my country El Salvador, they have had the courage to make art and contributed to create a legacy. I enjoy the excitement of finding or discovering new artists, techniques or approaches. Whereas, I may not always understand what I am looking at initially, and often don't like what I see, which is only natural as a person, the thing that excites me is that art, in a somewhat utopian manner, goes beyond the personal, the politics, the ideologies and continuously helps create a new reality.
If you could travel back in time, is there a particular artistic period / era that you would like to have been involved in?
Just for the fun of traveling back in time I would go to the prehistoric period to know what was their perception of art. I'm happy in the time in living and creating art at this period, it is exciting to be involved in the creation of the future.
What challenges do you feel the 21st century artist has to overcome?
To not lose the soul for the world.
What advice would you give to a young aspiring artist currently studying art?
Don't lose the enthusiasm if this is really the thing you want to do. Keep doing art.
Despite having developed your own distinctive style, is there another style of art that you are immediately drawn towards and admire? Why?
Art Brut / Outsider Art because it is creativity outside the norms of the established system of art.
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?
I generally know when enough is enough, I have no problem in letting it go.
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?
I think artist are free to do whatever they want to do, no one can dictate the rules in art so I feel artist can express anything from social subjects to representations of their own creativity.
Have you ever been part of an artistic group / movement? How did your work benefit from that experience?
I have never been part of any formal group, I just have a group of artists friends and I've been part of an art residency and is a great benefit for the work mainly because you discuss ideas that are totally opposite to yours.