Transient

Born in Singapore to a Colombian family, and raised in Houston, Texas, the different cultures and landscapes I’ve experienced have been a tremendously influential part of my life. I went to an international school in Houston, studied art throughout the U.S.A., attended residencies in Italy, Russia, Spain, Germany, and spent a very enlightening year in Japan studying Japanese language and lithography. The artwork I’ve been cultivating is a reflection of the desire to maintain a calm interior livelihood despite an outside world that is frequently in flux. What interests me about painting is its ability to reveal the inner psychology of the artist over the period of its creation, and as such I enjoy using the medium to express the inherent tension between what surrounds me and the coping mechanisms I utilize to find an internal calm. I pose the figures in my paintings so as to project this state of retreat from their immediate surrounds, and then I craft backgrounds that escalate the tension between the tactile outside world and the figure’s emotionally withdrawn interior. With pattern and textural elements I envelop my figures in symbolic environments that are both imposing and aesthetically pleasing. While the figure’s I paint hold opaque expressions, the world around them is depicted as being crudely warped by their emotional state. My work investigates the transformative affect one’s state of mind has on their perception of the external world, and the different pictorial techniques that can be used to communicate this. 

The inspiration for this investigation comes from my love of escapism - the act of painting itself is a form of it, like active dreaming. Popular entertainment such as movies and video games grant incredible opportunities to immerse oneself in unique worlds that are governed by their own rules and systems. The enthusiasm we have for entering these worlds is practically embedded in our psyche. The melancholia of many of my pictures derives from the stuttered search for a less transient source of elation. 

I draw inspiration from artists like those of the ‘pictures generation’ from New York City (Mark Tansey, Cindy Sherman), from many woodblock prints and animated creations from Japan, and from Pre-Raphaelite paintings that depict realistic but magical environments. I try to paint worlds that appear chaotic yet have an underlying structure that informs them, and I paint figures that seek a zen-like calm that eludes them. 

For any inquiries, please email me at gabriel.zea.art@gmail.com