By Kimberly Rene’ Vanecek
Gabriel Diaz is an artist who paints on a grand scale. His works are stretched upon canvas and can easily absorb an entire wall. Each piece Gabriel creates, draws the viewer into his emotional realm and leaves the audience with unique interpretations from each painting.
KV: You tend to favor human objects when painting. Is this an area that you feel is your comfort zone?
GD: More than comfortable, I would have to say that working with the human body excites me in a great way; I find that it has an incredible ability to transmit presence and expression. Along with the idea that the viewer will be able to make a direct and personal connection with the human conditions displayed in the artwork.
KV: I have seen you experiment with dimensional paintings but yet you seem to gravitate towards the human body?
GD: I feel drawn and fascinated with the finesse, elegance and beauty of the female body. When I work with the male body it is because I enjoy the sheer force and power it communicates.
KV: Is there a personal story within each piece?
GD: Most definitely, all my works are like segments of my life. When I’m working it is a constant inward search for memories and feelings that stimulate the creative process. That is my fuel.
KV: You have chosen to work with darker colors, is this representative to a certain emotion, like pain?
GD: I find dark bold marks to be very stimulating; although these could easily be interpreted as pain I see them more as strong visual statements.
KV: Is it possible for an artist to paint without inserting any emotions into their work?
GD: I think it’s possible; there are many artists that are more analytical than emotional when it comes to art making. In my case it would be basically impossible due to the fact that my work is generally based on emotions.
KV: Do you ever miss your paintings, knowing your emotional connection to them?
GD: Of course I miss them, I really enjoy having dialogs with the pieces after they are done, but I guess that letting go is very important because it’s the first step toward moving on to making something new, and hopefully better.
KV: What do you think of contemporary art?
GD: There is a lot of great contemporary art out there, but the ones I have enjoyed the most have been during a visit to Mexico City when I got to spend time in front of murals by Siqueiros and Orozco, the force and incredible presence of these murals were a true life changing experience for me.
KV: Who are your influences?
GD: Edward Munch, Joel Peter Witkin, Lucian Freud, Francis Bacon, David Alfaro Siqueiros and Jose Clemente Orozco.
KV: What are your choices of mediums?
GD: Acrylic paint and charcoal, I like the immediateness and quickness these materials allow you work with.
KV: I understand you have been painting for quite a while?
GD: Since early childhood I have felt an incredible amount of joy while painting, but in 1999 I enrolled for art classes in college, that’s when things began to get more serious.
KV: Where did you study?
GD: I was fortunate enough to study art at the University of Texas at El Paso.
KV: Do you currently work in a studio?
GD: Yes, it is located in downtown Juarez, my favorite part of the city.
KV: I can’t help but notice over the course of time, I see you speak of Juarez with such a passion?
GD: I was born and raised in Juarez so I feel very attached to this city, of course I would love to travel and work in other parts of the world, but Juarez will always occupy a special place in my mind. Juarez is an incredibly visually stimulating city. It is also a scenario of great social contrasts within itself and with it’s neighboring city El Paso, Texas. There is constant change and is currently trying to renovate itself from the terrible wave of violence and fear it was struck by these past years. Personally I love walking in downtown Juarez enjoying its colors, textures, sounds, smells, etc. These walks give me great feedback. I think subconsciously I am influenced by all these elements, but when I paint, I do whatever comes naturally. Juarez’s urban gallery, this consists of 50 printed images of my work displayed in the streets of Juarez. These exhibitions are scheduled for January 2013.
KV: What mark or legacy do you wish to leave in the art world and what would you like your artwork to exude?
GD: When making art I focus on the moment, if later on the work gets recognized that is a big plus, but for me the best moment is when I am executing the piece. It gives me a great sense of satisfaction to get into a heated dialogue with the work in progress, coming to terms with it and ending up with a satisfactory execution. I love the challenge. If my work gets to leave a mark in the art world that would be an excellent feeling, if that gets to happen, I think that I would like to leave a mark of strong and forceful artwork. Made up of bold decisions, strong statements and good compositions.
KV: You showed at the Amor por Juarez art auction. All four of your pieces sold that night. That’s a great statement! Do you have plans for an upcoming show?
GD: I am currently preparing for a solo exhibition at the “CUDA” (Centro Universitario de las Artes) building in Juarez, Mexico. It will consist of grand scale paintings, drawings and suspended sculptures. Along with a simultaneous solo exhibition at the University of Cd.
Photographs by Kimberly Rene’ Vanecek