Armando Sebastian



KERA Dallas 

Learn more about my work and other Latinx Artists from the Dallas LGBTQI comunnity.

by Rachel Narp

ttp://artandseek.org/spotlight/reclaiming-the-word/


 




By Ashlee Renz-Hotz

 

The expressive, iconic works of Mexican artist Armando Sebastian are true representations of the artists life experiences and emotions as seen through the curtains of a grand stage. The first impressions of our critic, Ashlee Renz-Hotz, was that his art was very interesting in that there were many big and small elements of imagery and iconography scattered throughout the works. She has always been one for enjoying a good backstory and title when it comes to art, and these two works speak volumes. Their presentation and youthful whimsy were seen as very attractive qualities to our critic, but even with the child-like appearances of the figures, there were still very powerful messages portrayed- ones that both the old and the young experience. The longer you look at each piece, more small elements are realized and a deeper meaning emerges. Also, evident in all of the artists works, Ashlee noticed a unifying quality- most likely due to their influence to 18th century art and Japanese manga (graphic novels), is a lack of depth perception, which she notes as being both a strange, yet intriguing quality. The flatness of the colors and absence of layering makes one feel as if they are looking at a large sheet of paper, perhaps even a textile from a centuries old tapestry or a panel within an issue of Shonen Jump (weekly manga publication). This adds to the whimsy and makes each piece very unique and fun to look at.

In ‘Siempre en Mi Mente (Under my Skin)’, there are many hidden messages, and as Armando expressed, he likes to play ‘tricks’ on the viewer in all of his works. There are religious as well as naturalistic undertones, similar to that of Henri Rousseau, and each one is reminiscent of his paying homage to a centuries old craft and also his expression of his own childhood experiences. This work is very personal to the artist but at the same time, very relatable to the viewer looking in on this act, being that the figure appears as innocent, pure, and androgynous. The work encompasses the memory of a lost love, but to our critic, she saw it in a different light. Ashlee saw this as “man versus nature” but also, unified in it. The figure, as well as the birds, share similar characteristics – such as the adorned halos and feathers. They also “feed” off of each other, both literally and not, as seen in the bottom right, where the bird appears to be ingesting the lifeblood of the figure. We are all connected in an endless cycle in this, as the critic put it, “stage of life.’ In ‘Boy with Flying Fish’, which Ashlee describes as “simple” and “charming”, is the embodiment of a beautiful youth, under the stars, who has done the unthinkable, catching a fish with his bare hands. This piece resonated well as is, but with its charming backstory of being influenced by Armando’s childhood memory of his parents, it shed more light on the idea of reality and conquering something vast. Our critic also mentions that even thought this is very reminiscent of folk art, it is much different from anything she has seen and it much more profound in it’s line weights and personal imagery. Armando successfully conveys his emotions in this two-dimensional scene and “communicates incredible things.” The artist states that to him, technique really isn’t as important, but properly telling a story is what makes his artwork something truly special. 

 







Marco Saucedo, derecha, señala un detalle en la pintura "Boys in the Garden" de Armando Sebastian durante el show de arte "Maricon" en el Oak Cliff Cultural Center, el viernes 4 de mayo de 2018. Foto: Brandon Wade / especial para Al Día.

 

By Jenny Manrique 

 

The androgynous figure combs her long black hair that surrounds her entire torso. The sentences written around the hair says how much he loves himself in all his forms. Armando Sebastian was inspired by Frida Kahlo's 'Self Portrait with Short Hair', which the renowned Mexican artist painted shortly after divorcing her infidel husband, the artist Diego Rivera. Kahlo is dressed in a man's shirt, shoes and a large suit and at the top of the painting there are lyrics of a Mexican folk song that says "Look, if I wanted you it was because of your hair, Now that you're bald, I do not like you". "I never let my hair grow until two years ago. I always cut everything, "says Sebastian, originally from Monterrey and resides in Dallas since 2004." I thought about making a painting where I would represent myself and do the opposite of Frida: quote that I like my long hair and that I love myself very much. It is a small tribute to Frida and me, "adds the artist whom, in addition to Kahlo, has been inspired by works by Remedios Varo, Marc Chagall and Salvador Dalí. His pieces are an unusual mixture of religious images, bright colors rooted in Mexican folk art, Japanese manga and 18th century art. He says he paints biographical moments and memories of his childhood and adolescence and that he is also inspired by icons of the literature and music. His works have also been exhibited in Dallas, Los Angeles and Tyler, Texas. In July he will be in New York. "The word Maricón is very strong for me because its meaning growing in Mexico is totally opposed to what we want to do here today, which is to bring awareness to the community and celebrate who we are" added Sebastian

 

Por Jenny Manrique

 

La figura andrógina peina su larga cabellera negra que rodea todo su torso. Las frases escritas alrededor del pelo dicen cuánto se quiere en todas sus formas. Armando Sebastian se inspiró en el ‘Autorretrato con pelo corto’ de Frida Kahlo, que la renombrada artista mexicana pintó poco después de divorciarse de su infiel esposo, el artista Diego Rivera. Kahlo está vestida con una camisa de hombre, zapatos y un traje de gran tamaño y en la parte superior de la pintura hay letras de una canción folklórica mexicana que dice “Mira que si te quise fue por tu pelo, Ahora que estás pelona, ya no te quiero”.

“Yo nunca dejé mi cabello crecer hasta hace dos años. Siempre me lo cortaba todo”, cuenta Sebastian, originario de Monterrey y residente de Dallas desde el 2004. “Pensé en hacer un cuadro donde yo me represente y hacer lo opuesto a Frida: decir que me gusta mi cabello largo y que ahora me quiero más. Es un pequeño homenaje a Frida y a mí”, añade el artista quien además de Kahlo se ha inspirado en obras Remedios Varo, Marc Chagall y Salvador Dalí.

Sus piezas son una mezcla inusual de imágenes religiosas, colores brillantes arraigados en el arte folklórico mexicano, manga japonés y arte del siglo 18. Dice que le pinta a momentos biográficos y recuerdos de su infancia y adolescencia y que se inspira también en íconos de la literatura y la música. Sus obras también han sido expuestas en Los Angeles y Tyler, Texas. En julio estará en Nueva York.

“La palabra Maricón es muy fuerte para mí porque su significado creciendo en México es totalmente opuesto a lo que hoy queremos hacer aquí, que es brindar conciencia a la comunidad y celebrar quienes somos” agregó Sebastian.


 
Boys in the Garden  oil on canvas, 48 x 36 inches

By Marina Shterenberg

 

In his new series "The Garden of good and Evil " Armando Sebastian brings together the depth of the intimate and the vastness of the divine.  With the use of allegory he is able to communicate complex ideas with means that are comprehensible and striking to the viewer.  Rooted in autobiographical details, Sebastian takes us into the atmosphere of human pain and vulnerability reminiscent of the ex-voto paintings.  The seemingly naive quality in his technique introduces the language of abstraction and we are able to connect the movement of the stars to the beating of a bleeding heart. 

 

Perhaps the works can most closely identify with the genre of magical realism.  Sebastian’s child-like fascination with the folds of cloth, texture of insect wings, wallpaper stains, or color of bird feathers in an enigmatic way lead us to explore questions of identity and gender.

 

One consistent element in Sebastian’s work is the gaze - confrontational wide open eyes, commanding our full presence with which to enter each painting’s  carefully constructed world.  As if reflecting in a mirror our own innocence and mystery, the eyes invite us to feel desire, uncertainty, tenderness, grace. While each detail is rendered with great devotion, the world that we find ourselves in is more similar to the incongruent world of the surrealists.  Ribbons become highways to heavens, slender bodies growing out of land masses, rooms transformed into tropical gardens, rips in a backdrop opening into gallaxies. 

 

There is a quietness about the paintings, they contain everything that was said and left unsaid at the same time.   In this boundless space, the feminine and the masculine meet in their naked humbleness.  This is a world of innocence before the ‘word’ was created, a coexistence of multiple truths.

 


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