José Luis Carranza

Lima, Peru | by April 4, 2011

I first saw José Luis Carranza’s work at Noche de Arte(Night of Art), an annual event put on by the U.S. Embassy in Peru that cel­e­brates the work of artists liv­ing in Peru, both Peru­vian and other.  Among the many typ­i­cally tra­di­tional works, Carranza’s grotesque paint­ing of a goat in the woods caught my eye imme­di­ately.  His paint­ings are both irre­sistibly attrac­tive and unde­ni­ably repul­sive.  His use of bold pri­mary col­ors and speedy brush­work are quite unique, so when I came by his work again a few months later at Yvonne San­guinetti Gallery in Lima, I rec­og­nized it imme­di­ately.  This week we met in his stu­dio to dis­cuss his work and con­tem­po­rary art in Lima.

José Luis Car­ranza was born in Lima, Peru in 1981.  A fig­u­ra­tive painter trained at the Escuela Nacional de Bel­las Artes del Peru, a school known for its strict adher­ence to clas­si­cal tech­ni­cal train­ing, he is very famil­iar with the grand clas­si­cal tra­di­tion of paint­ing.  He has spent years study­ing the tech­niques of the mas­ters of the Renais­sance, Rubens and Goya for exam­ple.  In 2009 he won the National Pass­port Con­test held by the French embassy in Peru and spent much of last year in France, learn­ing French and study­ing the works of the Euro­pean masters.

Yet as a painter of the 21-​​century, he is also a big fan of the Amer­i­can painter Dana Schutz and Ger­man Neo Rauch.   Like these two painters, José works within a tra­di­tional mode of expres­sion to dis­cuss con­tem­porar­ily rel­e­vant themes: the frac­tur­ing of reli­gion and pol­i­tics, the aggres­sive clash­ing of cul­tures cre­ated by glob­al­iza­tion, our immer­sion in an envi­ron­ment of vio­lence.  He believes that in today’s world we expe­ri­ence “vio­lence from birth” and that we live with­out rules.  Though obsessed with the tech­niques of the clas­si­cal tra­di­tion, and the alle­gor­i­cal use of mytholo­gies, he also incor­po­rates a con­tem­po­rary sense of aban­don into his paint­ing style.  José approaches each new paint­ing blankly, with no sketches, and paints from his mind, allow­ing mys­te­ri­ous things to emerge from each canvas.

As we spoke we sat fac­ing a paint­ing in progress.  This new paint­ing depicts sev­eral simul­ta­ne­ous nar­ra­tives.  On the right we find two men, both in a trance yet in con­flict with each other.  On the left side he has depicted a fig­ure soak­ing in a swamp, held down by another fig­ure, wings sprout­ing from his spine, a stalk of wheat in his mouth.  Around them are fly­ing birds of prey and slith­er­ing ser­pents. This ref­er­enc­ing of both bib­li­cal and Incan sym­bols is char­ac­ter­is­tic to his work.  Though far from Nation­al­is­tic, the paint­ings illus­trate the mix­ing of cul­tures found in Peru, and through­out the world.

The fig­ures in his paint­ings are based on the images of his rel­a­tives func­tion­ing as stand-​​ins for “every man”.  All his fig­ures, men, women and ani­mals, share sim­i­lar char­ac­ter­is­tics.  Skin is often painted as bro­ken and fluid, and he thinks of these char­ac­ters as only par­tially formed, still under­go­ing the process of cre­ation.  The set­tings, usu­ally for­est or jun­gle, are painted in a sim­i­larly thin and fluid style, indi­cat­ing a wild and unciv­i­lized envi­ron­ment. Through his work he presents a world under­go­ing phys­i­cal and spir­i­tual trans­for­ma­tion, a state so famil­iar to us, that we can’t help but be engaged, spell­bound even in front of these mes­mer­iz­ing paintings.

After tak­ing part in sev­eral shows last year in Europe, Car­ranza is cur­rently prepar­ing for a Novem­ber solo show at Enlace Gallery in Lima.  Next month he will have a few works on view in the Museum of the Amer­i­cas in Miami, and I expect it won’t be long before we are see­ing work from this ris­ing star in New York as well.   To see more images by José Luis Car­ranza please visit his web­site.


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2 Comments

  • Glad I found this site — great idea. El Com­mer­cio in Lima did a nice fea­ture on Car­ranza a cou­ple of weeks ago. As you men­tion, I’m sure it’s only a mat­ter of time before we start see­ing more of his work.

  • Shana says:

    To add to that, I found this on the blog, it is a year or two old, but these are the types of tips I am look­ing for on EQ, they are very spiiefcc.Here was part of your post.Want your kick drum and bass’ bot­tom end to pop out? Then cut out all the sub 150hz stuff on every other track using a high pass fil­ter. It’s like you peeled back a wall that was cov­er­ing up your low end. Now the kick and bass have room to shine.The same is true as you move up the spec­trum. Is your snare drum hav­ing a hard time stick­ing out from behind that wall of gui­tars? Maybe you could sweet around and notch out a mid fre­quency on all the gui­tar parts that was cov­er­ing up the snare. A few sec­onds of tweak­ing and you’ll eas­ily carve out a “hole” for the crack of the snare to cut through

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