Thursday, June 2, 2011

Paintings and Personajes

Lucas Varela, it turns out, is not only an illustrator, but a painter as well. He has been painting for years and, coincidentally, had a gallery show with artist Mariano Vior* the day after our interview. During the interview, he told me that he was a better illustrator than painter, and joked that he purchased six cases of wine to make the audience more partial to the paintings. I imagine that the transition between illustration and painting must be difficult. The creation process is entirely different, transformed by new materials, ways of holding your body, and distinctive methods of telling a story. And then, there’s the question of overlap: do you bring your favorite characters with you to the new medium or do you create new ones? Varela’s paintings featured a fascinating mix of creatures.

Una Aflicción (An affliction)

Bobas en Disputa (Arguing Fools)

The bobas (fools) are a new addition to Varela’s repertoire. Their pained, aggressive positions are terrifying. “The Affliction” is equally frightening. After looking at these paintings, I want to know more about these women. Varela’s ability to arouse the viewer’s curiosity is indicative of his skill as an artist and narrator.

Gusano 1 (Worm 1)

La congoja (The Anguished One), Gusano 2 (Worm 2),

Jóven yaciente (Young person lying down)

Varela brought the worms from his comics to canvas. In an open interview for Fierro magazine, a reader asked, “Why do you draw strange worms everywhere?” Varela responded, “You’ll get to meet these worms that I draw. They are the worms that are going to eat you when you die.”

(A brief aside: I sent the link to "Worm 1" to my sister Grace. She apparently hates worms, and the sight of one vomiting almost made her sick. A few minutes later, I forgot all about our conversation and sent her a comic with worms in it. I am probably the worst older sister ever.)

Sans Jorge (Without George)

Saint George Killing the Dragon (1430-5) by Bernat Martorell

“San Jorge” attracted my attention because I saw “Saint George Killing the Dragon” (1430-5) at the Art Institute of Chicago. The Martorell painting puts the small dragon in an inferior position at the bottom of the painting, focusing all the attention on Saint George in the middle. Varela’s rendition of this classic story, in contrast, shows only the dragon’s death, not the hero or his brave deed, thus the name "Without George." Depicting the gory and solitary death of the dragon causes the viewer to feel connected to the monster and reinvents the story by taking the underdog’s point of view.

Varela and Vior's paintings are exhibited in La Serpa, a gallery on Julián Alvarez 425. As you can probably guess from this post, I highly recommend going.

*Mariano Vior is an incredible artist. I did not write about him in this post, because I wanted to focus on Varela's paintings. But you should check out Vior's blog to see his paintings and drawings.

Pictures taken by Lucas Varela

1 comment:

  1. Varela is a tricky mofo: "Sans Jorge" means "without Jorge" in french, so that's why theres is no hero. If it were in spanish it should have been "San Jorge". Beware of Varela. He's sneaky.