Local artist enjoys growing success
Over the past several years, Tulsans have become more and more familiar with the work of local artist Gabriel Rojas. This month Rojas won the “Best Representation of Tulsa” for his piece, “Riverside” at Living Arts' Oh Tulsa Biennial 2017.
Fresh on the heels of this well-deserved accolade, Rojas spoke with La Semana about the things that inspire him and his plans for the future.
Rojas said the Living Arts exhibition was a competitive, biennial survey of local artists, with the only criteria being that the artists must live or have lived in Tulsa. Rojas was born in Argentina but grew up in Tulsa.
“My two pieces at the show were inspired by my memories of work and play, of me driving around town delivering newspapers, and of me hanging out on riverside,” Rojas explained. “These recent works explore the connections between my expressionism (painting style) and my life experience / bicultural identity. Whether conscious or not, I believe place and experience, both physically and psychologically, informs the work. These paintings act like a mirror to my emotional connection to Tulsa.”
Although he occasionally works in other media, Rojas said he has always been interested in the traditions and history of painting.
“I am a painter at heart,” Rojas confessed. “I continue to explore the medium with an expressionistic approach.”
Like any artist, Rojas’ work is a continuing evolution.
“My techniques are just naturally changing,” he observed. “As an improvisational artist, I discover new methods and develop patterns that are constantly being incorporated into the process. Most of my paintings are abstract. The act of painting is just as important as the final piece. Inspired by the older generations of abstract expressionists like De Kooning and Pollock, I am attempting to capture an energy through the gestural motion of mark making and through the spontaneous physicality of the act itself.”
Asked what inspires him, Rojas said this is something he never knows until it happens.
“Everything and everyone inspire me,” he said. “It may sound cliché, it may sound pretentious, but when I go into the studio and start to paint, it is a conversation, an exchange of information, where my language is paint. The work is inevitably influenced by my mood, my surroundings, and whatever I’m thinking about that day.”
Whatever the inspiration for Rojas’ work, the result is something that is itself both moving and enriching for all who have the privilege of seeing and enjoying the vibrant and often provocative imagery of his pieces.
Rojas, with a humility not often associated with those blessed with such talent, was reluctant to appear too lofty or professorial when asked if he has any wisdom to impart to other young artists.
“I’m in no position to give advice,” he said. “I’m still starting out. Just find what is interesting to you, and work constantly. Don’t think too much about shows and all, you just need to focus on the work, for a consistent growth.”
Rojas recently showed his painting s in a three-man show at new nonprofit gallery, Skiatook Arts Center, and on September 8th he will have a space at the Oklahoma City Pancakes and Booze art show. This event will be held at the OKC Farmer's Public Market at 311 S. Klein Ave. in Oklahoma City. (https://www.facebook.com/events/ 1337547189671405)
“Come by, hang out,” Rojas urged. “I will be selling originals and prints.” (La Semana)