Lo­cal artist en­joys grow­ing suc­cess

La Semana - - FRONT PAGE / PORTADA -


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)


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