EK Interview: Gustavo Peña


Gustavo Peña‘s art is an exploration, both of himself and the world around him. Water, the body, laser beams, batman masks, he has it all in his world that look like a youthful fantasy world. Check out his interview:

Tell us about yourself, how long have you been a painter?
I’m a Dominican painter, born in 1979 in the island of Dominican Republic. I’ve been a painter since 2004.


Are you a swimmer? A number of your pieces are in the water, how do you paint bodies above water differently than below?
I do some Olympic swimming but I am terrible at it. I mostly choose what to paint from the pictures I take so therefor I guess the swimming paintings comes by the fact I live in an island and I get to see the sea very often. Plus the fact we live in an eternal summer down here; everyday is good to go to the river or pool.


‘Lithuanian waters’ verges on hyper real, while ‘The rescue’ has thick, colorful strokes, what did each mean to you? Where they painted in different mindsets?
Yes, I guess I could say there were painted in different mindsets. I like to experiment a lot, I change the approach to painting very often. Also I enjoy trying different kind of paintings, an canvas, brushes etc. Must recently I even changed from figurative to geometric abstractión for a while. Now I’m back to figurative painting, but I wanted to feel what it was like to paint without a narrative, directly from the mind to the canvas and see what came out.


Your work combines laser rifles, fire, spikes, batman masks, and more. Where do you pull inspiration from? What does each disparate piece mean to you?
I take a lot from my childhood combine with recent events. It’s like a little mess of experiences gathered together.

What does aesthetic manipulation mean to you? For “Boxeador” your subject stands, staring at the viewer, his body is disproportional, arms accentuated, legs smaller than they should be. Why have you chosen this pose? How do you use body position to accentuate the meaning in a piece?
It’s a very difficult task to tell a story with just one still. I stylize the figure to make the story stronger.


What’s the hardest part of the body to paint? What’s your favorite?
When you learn to see in an abstract manner, the way we figurative painters observe the world, everything looks the same and is the same challenge, no matter what part of the body. At the end, for example I don’t see a hand, I see colors, light, and shadows and that’s what I’m drawing.


But I can tell you, that I’d rather paint the head. Just because a face is the most story telling part of our bodies.


What are you working on now? What are you painting currently?
Right now I’m getting back to figurative painting, I’m just starting to design these stills combining some knowledge gathered from the abstract paintings I was working on. Yet I’m still curious what is cooking since I haven’t completed the designing process of these 20 pieces yet.