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.