“A drawing is simply a line going for a walk.”
“The world today doesn’t make sense, so why should I paint pictures that do?”
Review and Aspirations
Angel’s current focus is a portfolio of work which evolved into an exploration centred on the human body, its frailty and the consequences of various forms of physical and mental trauma, disfigurement and disability. His present body of work thus entails an enquiry and interrogation of the universality of such matters, explored by means of abstraction of imagery of military servicemen who have been disfigured and/or subjected to reconstruction and impairment from war injuries, wounds and other traumas including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Such an enquiry of matters such as physicality, morphology and fragmentation must ultimately explore both cultural and individual understandings of what is acceptable in terms of the manner in which the body, physical presence, and ultimately life and death are perceived. It can also with some justification interrogate various themes concerning what is termed the supernatural and the sense of ‘hauntedness’ that often arises from traumatic experiences.
For Angel, large-format canvases (especially surrealistic drawing and painting as forms of abstraction) provide a suitable ‘container’ in which he is able to explore without inhibition – using line, composition and colour as metaphors of the unconscious aspects of our lives, doing so within the relative freedom of figurative art. ‘Surrealism’ enables Angel to encompass themes of personal interest which, in part, evolve from aspects of delusional fantasy and enigmatic characters taken from classical literature, myth and allegory.
The protagonists in Angel’s current work are generally military servicemen who; alongside others who have endured profound and unimaginable violence; are depicted as though ‘human holograms’. His intention is to dedicate himself to the representation of real or imagined events, dreams and myths, or classical themes through the use of line, tone, composition, scale, pattern, silhouette, contrast, fragmentation and colour.
In context of his creative process, Angel holds at the forefront of his mind a deeply-personal narrative which reflects on the horror of certain aspects of our present-day world. Having lived through the midst of six decades of social conflict, violence and terrorism in which millions were violently killed, injured or simply vanished without a trace, Angel is able to articulate rich personal experience within his enquiry.
Such themes as death, war, conflict, violence, crime, destruction, mutilation, religious and cultural oppression, personality disorders and mental illness are thus considered and explored in context of deep and personal meaning. These are the themes that for years served as the backdrop of Angel’s day-to-day life; various and often tangled threads which comprised the warp and weft of a social context that will be working its way inter-generationally through the collective psyche of Colombian men, women and children – no doubt, for many years to come.
Present Studio Work
“I’m not an abstractionist. I’m not interested in the relationship of colour or form or anything else. I’m interested only in expressing basic human emotions: tragedy, ecstasy, doom, and so on.”
Angel is particularly drawn to executing surrealistic compositions whose shapes can be used to represent the human body and somehow convey the concept of the ‘body-mind’. In so doing, he draws from the literary, cultural, and artistic genre known as Magic Realism, in which the world of myth and fantasy merges with the world of our various individual and collective realities and perceptions.
Angel finds himself drawn to the vast body of research on themes relating to personality and psychology; in particular, he is intrigued by the media’s evolving representation of physical and mental distress, noting that despite many inroads there remain a number of prevailing myths and beliefs about mental illness in particular.
In context of his enduring curiosity about how we retain a sense of ‘purpose and meaning’ by co-creating various beliefs and then accepting them as truths, Angel often finds himself in pursuit of such polarised and universal concepts as death versus life, hate versus love, chaos versus balance, violence versus peace, and fantasy versus reality.
Avenues of Enquiry
“An artist’s early work is inevitably made up of a mixture of tendencies and interests, some of which are compatible and some of which are in conflict.”
Ultimately, Angel is intrigued by the manner in which the experience or awareness of death in context of our day-to-day living affects each of us implicitly; in particular, he is drawn to an exploration of the various ways it is possible to endure the ultimate ‘knowingness’ of our own mortality.
As a result of efforts to explore in some detail various concepts embedded in surrealistic art, much of Angel’s work is about distorting the line in pursuit of depicting a sense of wholeness; and of life-force; to an otherwise impaired body or mind.
Such distortion, it is argued, perhaps affords the viewer with a sense of freedom and participation; ultimately Angel’s work serves as an invitation to explore one’s own historical, cultural, and social antecedents.
In that sense, viewers are encouraged to access their own past visual and somatic memories by means of Angel’s art, all whilst reflecting on his surrealistic notion of human holograms – in this case typically deceased or profoundly injured servicemen who somehow found the means to ‘come back from the brink’ in order to inspire their relatives and loved ones, comfort them, and encourage them to extract greater meaning from their own lives and contributions.
An Invitation to Viewers
“Drawing is still basically the same as it has been since prehistoric times. It brings together man and the world. It lives through magic.” Keith Haring
“I start a picture and I finish it. I don’t think about art while I work. I try to think about life.”
It is Angel’s hope that viewers of his work are drawn to something visceral; something based on their own unique past histories (as well as past considerations of life and death) in consideration of the ‘space in between’ the gift of life and the moment of death. He realises that such a reflective journey on the part of an observer can catch one off guard; it can be powerful, emotive and sometimes profoundly healing, as well.
Angel continues to research and explore the concepts of social and cultural identity, considering that such matters are difficult to capture and record with simplicity. His commitment is to exploring the various ways in which unconscious material can be turned into something which is visually surrealistic but somehow tangible, given that it is represented through the inevitably limited medium of whatever ends up on his canvases.
Thus the viewer is invited to see the world through Angel’s eyes; through his memory and his own often traumatic experience and past history as a human being and a citizen of the world. His inspiration comes from themes he considers to be present in the work of nearly all 20th and 21st century art, as well as the work of photographers, painters, sculptors, novelists, surgeons, screenwriters and broadcasters. Each of these individuals, and all of us collectively, co-create various contemporary understandings of life, death, mortality, service and contribution.