This post is also available in: Spanish
In another installment of our “Chavoneros Stories” series, we sat down to talk to Alejandro Perez, a young Cuban artist featured in the Hall of Winners exhibit in Altos de Chavón in June.
To continue with our “Chavoneros Stories” series, today’s Chavonero Story is that of Alejandro Perez, an artist who creates paintings with an extremely interesting mastery over color schemes, featured in the Altos de Chavón Gallery’s Hall of Winners, an exhibit held this past June in which a small group of graduates from the Altos de Chavón School of Art and Design were chosen by the National Biennale of Visual Arts to have their work displayed in the Museum of Modern Art in Santo Domingo, and later in the prestigious Altos de Chavón Gallery. While the exhibit has already finished, Perez still had some insightful views to offer into his life and artwork.
@cdcliving: When did you first come to Altos de Chavón and why did you decide to study here?
I arrived to Altos de Chavón in 2006, after studying at the National School of Visual Arts, I believed the Altos de Chavón School of Design would be the next step in my artistic education and was blessed with one of their scholarships.
@cdcliving: How would you describe your experience in the Altos de Chavón School of Design?
Simply, Altos de Chavón changed my life, not only in the professional, artistic sense, but also in the personal sense, since there, away from my usual home and my usual comfort zone, was where I truly found myself.
@cdcliving: What is your biggest inspiration in your artwork?
I’m inspired by everything around me, mainly the way people behave when they lie, how everyone takes precious time out of their lives to pretend to be something they’re not, to better fit society’s standards, and not be who they truly wish to be.
@cdcliving: What artist do you most admire and identify yourself with?
I’ve always greatly admired the works of Vincent Van Gogh, not only because of his masterful use of color, but also for his extremely intense manner of expressing his feelings through his work.
@cdcliving: What are your plans for the future?
I would like to take my works to other countries, so as to share them and my world views all over the world, while at the same time soaking myself in other cultures that will surely enrich my art.
@cdcliving: How does it feel to have your work showcased in the Hall of Winners?
To be here, in this exposition is an extremely satisfying and inspiring experience that wills me to keep on going with my work, as it tells me that everything I’ve done and sacrificed has not been in vain, and that gets me exploring the different ways in which I can get my voice heard across the world
@cdcliving: Did you always know you would pursue a career in the arts?
Yes, although for some years after graduating I was a bit far from the art scene, I always kept the dream of cultivating my artistic expression. I think that life always brings us back to our intended path in the most unexpected moments, as long as we keep working on it without losing hope.
@cdcliving: At what age did you discover your passion for the arts? What did you create at first?
When I was a kid, still living in Cuba, I was fascinated by reading through the books and art and drawing my uncle had at his house, but it wasn’t until 2002, when I went into the National School of Visual Arts that I took it seriously as a profession.
@cdcliving: How has your art evolved since you started at the Altos de Chavón School of Design? Has it changed your manner of seeing things?
What has changed most is the manner I communicate; I’m not as direct and literal as I used to be. Now, although my work is still fueled by a strong, raw sense of social distaste, the context in which I create is much more subjective, more sublime. This game between the crude and the subjective of a piece is what keeps me in a constant search to find the most adequate way to say what’s on my mind.
@cdcliving: Which painting are you most proud of? Why?
“The City of the Portals”. That painting doesn’t just express a heavy emotional weight of my childhood, and instead also expresses in a more understandable fashion the topic I tried to cover in my 2008 Fine Arts thesis.
@cdcliving: Is artistic prowess something that runs in your family?
Really most people in my family are artists, my brother is a painter and composer, and my parents are also musicians. I was, however, the only one to get into the plastic arts.
@cdcliving: How would you describe your style
Personally, I’d qualify my picturesque style as a result of a blend of various expressionist and impressionist influences and a search to always get the human body, taking into account my focus on the human body and the landscape as fundamental elements in my art.
@cdcliving: What was your inspiration for the pieces currently hung in the Hall of Winners Exhibit?
I am inspired by everything around me, mainly my loved ones and the way they interact with their surroundings. The way in which, consciously or not, people try to trade their realities for one that might be more enjoyable to others.
@cdcliving: What would you say is the underlying message in these pieces?
Through my paintings I try to represent how us human beings try from day to day to change our reality and our past with stories that don’t exist. These fake realities leave us in the center of a constant battle between what’s real and what’s imaginary, this being a generally uncomfortable position to be in, asking us to redefine who we are in society’s eyes.
Altos de Chavón School of Art and Design
The Altos de Chavón Cultural Center Foundation is a U.S. not-for-profit public charity that has a cultural and educational mission here in the Dominican Republic. The school is on a university level and offers an associate degree, with many students continuing on to Parsons School of Design (now called The Parsons New School For Design) in NY. Founded in 1983 to meet the growing commercial demands of the Dominican Republic, the School of Design offers an intensive two-year program leading to the degree of Associate in Applied Science.