Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Eduardo del Rio

From the golden city of Salamanca to the farmlands of Northern California, Eduardo del Rio has all the romantic trappings of a painter. Now weeks away from packing up and moving to New York City, del Rio is having to consider how to change his artistic practice given anticipated “spacial issues”. For our Arteaser interview, I stopped by his apartment on the slopes of Russian Hill, where del Rio has enjoyed the space and ventilation to paint the large oil canvases of his Aquatic Angst series.

Born in Salamanca, del Rio moved with his parents, both artists, to Northern California before age three:

“My parents worked in the farm, in the fields, and my dad had to learn English […] They don’t pay the bills with their art”

Nonetheless, their artistic endeavors shaped del Rio’s budding talents:

“Definitely [having artist parents] was pretty much the most influential part of me being an artist [… They were] both very encouraging and harsh at the same time”

Each parent contributed their strengths:

My mom, I pride her on being a master of color, so I learned so much about color and Cezanne and Van Gogh, and how to mix colors and the dos and don’ts of painting, oil painting […] there was no question that could go unanswered through her about painting [and] I think that was really lucky”

My dad is just the compositional master. He puts these compositions together that just shake you”

Despite an early interest in illustration, del Rio decided not to go to art school and instead studied literature at the University of San Francisco:

“[It] was a hard decision […but] for me, art school would have been fairly oppressive just as far as progressing and expressing myself and really pushing the themes I wanted to push and the mediums I wanted to push”

While studying abroad in his hometown, he began to think more seriously about his art:

“I went to the school of Fine Art in Salamanca and studied illustration there and that was definitely a time […] where I really realized that I was going to take art more seriously”

Of course, the realities of a career in art did not go unchecked, and del Rio has simultaneously been building a career as a graphic designer:

“It would be nice, in theory, to make a living off illustration or off fine art or whatnot and I guess when that happens, it will happen. As it is, it’s great to be a designer because you do get to be creative at work and I see people in less creative positions wanting to be creative and I feel very lucky that I get to be and I have that fortunate”

On the fine art side, del Rio takes his greatest influence from El Greco and Francisco de Goya

“My dad, being the Spaniard, always just preached Picasso to me […but] those two people really have shaped how I would like to achieve a form of expression in fine art”

That expressive style permeates his latest Aquatic Angst series:

“As in Las Pinturas Negras of Goya, just how he really showed you the darkness of society and often juxtaposed to the beauty of society in some cases. The Aquatic Angst series[-] I didn’t want that to be as dark as that of course because that’s not my personality. I’m very lighthearted, so they’re fairly lighthearted and kind of almost funny and colorful, but [ ]I attempt to display to you elements of society that we all see and know are there and align them with the metaphor of the ocean.

“I’ve always been completely fascinated by the ocean […] it’s kind of nice now to be capable of painting a life size giant squid or shark monster and use these images as vehicles to show how the different levels of how are civilization acts.”

The Aquatic Angst paintings deliberately capture a moment of tension in the society of the sea:

“It’s not that I shy away from some creature tearing some other creature apart – like that’d be pretty awesome – I just didn’t feel like that was what I wanted to show. I wanted to show that the creature is about to get eaten, but will it get away.”

Despite having his intentions, del Rio enjoys fresh interpretations of his work:

“My favorite thing - it’s kind of funny, is some people’s least favorite thing - is that people come and they look at whatever I’ve done and they’ll have […] some interpretation that I’ve never considered and never even intended for and they just go into some deep, profound analysis of all the elements and this is the message that they see and it makes me ecstatic that someone can extract some completely different message that some image that’s just sitting there can give anyone. It’s not that it’s mine [..] it’s that people can find messages in things. That’s why I do it”

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