Public News (Houston) - - FRONT PAGE - by Donna Let­terese

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

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