Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Irrizary Pagan: Latin American Artist


For Irrizary Pagan, art is a catharsis. Everything he went through from childhood until now he describes in his paintings. Anything he might feel about any situation be it personal, religious or political, is put on canvas so it no longer lives inside him. If someone walks up to the painting  and sees what inspired its creation then that is a good thing. They may not like it, they may not love it, they may not want it but is has a message and meaning for those who look.

When he starts a painting, he comes up with a them or message that he wants to convey. Then he looks for certain symbols that he wants to add to make the painting graphic, but not too graphic, to make it funny or sarcastic, to disguise it in a sense because if it is too blatant, people would get offended. If it is too silly then the message is lost. He tries to find the right balance where symbolism and the image strike the viewer. If someone walks up and says, I see this or I feel that, then he has hit his mark. The process of looking for symbolism is intense for him. He had a vast library of books on the history of symbols and what they have meant through the ages. Shapes forms and colors all come into play as he works.

When he started his journey as an artist he asked another artist for advice and was told, "All you have to do is practice. Could you ride a bike the first time you saw one? No. How do you get good at it? You keep riding. If you have a passion for it you excel at it. If you don't then you excel at something else." It is that simple. So, how do you learn techniques? Simply through trail and error. Like any great artist he is still learning. The canvas is like a window to the soul, it is an opening or entrance and he is always looking for things to put it it. For instance the symbol of a frog is good luck.  If you don't have frogs then nature is in danger.  When you loose the frogs, in the forest, then the forest is dead. Once the frogs are dead, the Amazon is dead. If a plantation is sick it will loose its frogs.

When studying art in college all of his teachers were artists struggling to make money. They took the teaching job at college to make ends meet. The way he was taught was to "Just do it." If you can't draw then practice. It wasn't about techniques. If you wanted to paint then you just had to paint. An instructor put student canvases on the floor and then dipped his shoes in paint and walked all over the students work. Irrizary laughed until his sides hurt while other students cried. The instructor told him, "You pass." Some people take art so seriously that they forget why they are doing it. When you create something it is not just for you. It is for everybody. You move on. If you are afraid of loosing it or of it being destroyed then you will not create any more. No work is ever finished or complete. IF you get that philosophy in your head then you become good.

As a work study in college he worked in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC polishing armor and in his off hours he would explore the catacombs of books by famous artists. It was the best place to learn. His other academic learning came form comic books. In New York City there were many underground magazines and comics in Soho. These were radical new venues to see new art.Even traditional comic artists did underground work and he studied them all.

Artists constantly create and destroy. As a child we learn, then we grow up and go back to being a child if we re lucky. Love and hate are all a part of creation. When you create you are destroying the pure blank canvas. You scumble into it, scratch it, and if you put down a wrong color you scrape it off. So an artist is creating and destroying constantly until they reach a point and say, "That is it." They walk away. None of Irrizary's paintings are finished. He has worked on one canvas for five to six years. He rolled it up and put it in a tube. He started that painting in 1992 and is still considering completing it today.

There aren't any galleries in Central Florida. A gallery might be a thrift store with a bare wall or a coffee shop or maybe a City Hall or a small commune but they want artists to pay to display work. Why would an artist pay rent to show their work? The painting would also be lost among hundreds of other artists works. That is not how art is meant to be seen. South Florida has started doing this as well. It is a business that bleeds artists. One gallerist wanted to charge him $10 a foot to show his work. People come to Florida for the beaches or to spend hundreds of dollars to ride a theme park ride for a matter of seconds. They don't come here to buy art, they want a memento, a postcard.

When he first moved to Saint Cloud, there wasn't anywhere to show art. Marilyn Cortes-Lovato moved here from Chicago to run the Osceola Center for the Arts and now things are happening. New Concept Barber and Art Gallery also opened and they are promoting artists in new and inspired ways. The landscape keeps changing. Art isn't easy but it is what he loves. We create and destroy.


Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at analogartistdigitalworld@gmail.com

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