Today, we’d like to welcome Mauricio Alfonso Naya to Jung Katz!
Tell us about yourself, who are you, where are you from, and what do you do?
I am a Cuban painter, and I have lived almost half of my life in Ecuador. My work, stylistically speaking, can be described as Post-Synthesis. In the same way that jazz and Latin American music synthesize their disparate cultural backgrounds, apparently antithetical, to produce a whole where the borders of these influences fade, I build my poetic characterizations from aesthetic elements of the Hispanic cultures, Mexican muralists, and European painting traditions, among others.
How did you get started doing what you do?
Drawing is a vice I have had since my childhood (I draw compulsively almost every day). I sometimes try to disengage from this vice, but the price of detox has always been depression. I started to accept that art was something that was going to accompany me all my life when I was nineteen. It was at that age that I started to paint seriously.
What’s your inspiration?
The relations of power, the manufacturing of false memories that feed our nostalgia, the comic attempt to deny human animality, the completely random synthetic process of building the visual identity of a nation, and art history as parody are my greatest inspirations.
What is art to you?
Art is when the viewer, faced with a work of art, is actively involved in the creative process of unveiling a mystery that is individual and nontransferable. I think that non-linear and ambiguous abilities that transmit and store living information is what fascinates me about art. But art, for me, is impossible to define.
What does your typical day look like?
I’m not too methodical; it’s almost impossible to be methodical in this changing world in which we live. But, I paint every day, preferably in the morning.
What do you hope to accomplish with your work?
I want to create an image of the turbulent times in which my generation lives.
What, if anything, would you tell your younger self?
The fear of failure makes life even shorter.
What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
My father gave me one tip: To create a work of art is like running a marathon with a tree branch in your hands while a mob is ripping off all of the leaves. If you can reach the goal with even a single bit of the original idea, you can feel victorious.
Any words of wisdom to aspiring artists who want to pursue a similar career?
It is important to discriminate between the criticism that helps you to be better and the criticism that it is only used as a weapon of power to immobilize you. Nobody can foresee in which discipline you will be good, not even you. Do not let anyone define you. No one would have guessed that Van Gogh was a great colorist by seeing his early works.
What are your thoughts on art school?
Most of the time, art schools only act as factories that fill the heads of students with prejudices and insecurities. Art schools are as fundamentalist as the academies of Ingres’ time, imposing the “contemporary” jargon as the only valid type of art. Of course, there is always the one teacher who is the exception to this rule.
What art supplies do you use?
I use acrylics, oils, and mediums for intermediate and final glazes. I also typically use flat brushes for the first layers, round brushes for the interlayers, and watercolor brushes for details. No particular brand, each brand has its strengths and weaknesses.
How could the art industry become better in your opinion?
Unfortunately, the mechanisms of the art industry have nothing to do with art. I do not think that will ever change.