Painter Julio Larraz describes his work as traditional realism. Throughout his career, he has accomplished much in the realms of both illustration and painting. He cites Edward Hopper, John Singer Sergeant, Edgar Degas, and Diego Velasquez as the artistic influences closest to his heart. Still, instead of discussing it, he prefers for his work to speak for itself. “I think my describing my own work might sound pedantic,” he muses. “I want others who see it to decide for themselves-I’m happy with any label they give it.”
Larraz began his journey as an artist at the age of fifteen, while still living in his home country of Cuba. His parents were a tremendous influence on him. His father was a doctor of philosophy in economics, who ran a newspaper company in the 1940’s. He was an art-lover who loved his son’s work, and always encouraged Larraz to be creative and follow his artistic dreams.
In March of 1961, Larraz moved from Cuba to the United States. He and his mother traveled first, and his father joined them later. Larraz states that while some Cubans at the time thought they would go back in a few years, Larraz’s father was very clear that this move was permanent. “My father said he knew that the political situation in Cuba would endure for more than forty years,” Larraz explains. “Although I was too young to fully understand it at the time, he was very keen on what was happening. He had an eye for knowing the movements of people in politics.”
While he does consider that his upbringing in Cuba and emigration to the United States influenced his work, Larraz believes anything a creator experiences in his or her life should be significant. “In a person’s life, everything influences what he does,” Larraz points out. “If you’re an artist or a writer, everything in your life should influence you. I think people should keep track of these things and jot them down. Creators should do everything with great importance.” While in school in Cuba, Larraz did not necessarily have the chance to study art. Cuba’s school curriculum at that point did not have the time and space for the arts. Particularly during wartime, the arts were considered something people could live with, or without. Once he came to America, Larraz found that the arts were more focused on. He was still greatly inspired by the beauty of his home country, often drawing inspiration from iconic imagery associated with 1950’s Havana. Growing up in Cuba inspired his work, while coming to the States gave him the chance to bring that work to full fruition.
Larraz credits his time living in New York as being crucial to his artistic development. David Levine and Burt Silverman, both acclaimed illustrators and painters in their own right, were two such artists Larraz worked with on a regular basis, meeting weekly to work on their craft. After Larraz began doing drawings and caricatures for a small magazine, the New York Times noticed his work and hired him. From there, he had an illustrious illustration career, doing freelance work for such publications as Time Magazine, the Natural History Magazine, Newsweek, Vogue, and even Rolling Stone.
Despite his success as an illustrator, Larraz yearned to return to his first true love: painting. For ten years, he focused on painting and rented a studio outside New York City in Nyack, Rockland County. After that, he also had the chance to live and work in New Mexico, Paris, and even in the hills of Florence Italy, where he was able to focus on painting and sculpture. Ultimately, he settled in Miami, where he resides to this day.
One of the first galleries Larraz had the chance to work with when beginning his career was the Far Gallery in New York. A gallery that had once sold fine art prints, it was purchased by Bill Yizar who transformed it into a space that showed
the works of realist painters-- a revolutionary act at the time. Larraz also had his work shown by Hershel and Adler, and for a time was represented by art dealer Nora Heine. He went on to work with Marlboro Gallery for about fifteen years. Currently, he is working with the Cotini Gallery in Venice, Italy, and he is also represented by New York’s Chelsea based gallery, Ameringer | McEnery | Yohe. “This gallery is superb-- I feel like I have really arrived,” Larraz smiles. “Miles McEnery runs the gallery. He is a terrific guy, showing a fantastic, diverse group of artists.”
Luckily, fans of Larraz’s paintings do not have to take a trip to the Northeast or to Europe to see his works. A new show of his just opened in Houston, Texas. Liliana Molina, the gallery owner, and Mauricio Vallejo, the gallery director, have just opened up “The Art of the World” gallery. Larraz is honored to showing at this new and exciting space. “My show will be up through the first week of April. It’s a brand-new, beautiful gallery, and I’m very grateful,” Larraz beams. “There are so many talented people in the world. So, I’m very thankful-- to have shown in Houston, Italy, New York, Mexico, and Columbia. I’m a very lucky man to have had the success that I’ve had.”
For more information on the Art of the World Gallery and on Julio Larraz’s current show there, please go to: http://www.artoftheworldgallery.com/
To contact the artist and see more of his work, please go to: www.juliolarraz.com