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Face creased with worry, Vicente was busy hanging paintings at Veni Vidi Vici for his upcoming ArtHop show. He patted me on the back with one hand and sipped from the cocktail he held in his other hand. He pointed out a newly mounted work and beamed with pride, "That looks beautiful."
When you paint do you plan? Do you really know what the finished product is going to be when you begin?
Today I was thinking about that. I was thinking about how when I am planning a painting, it never, ever comes out the way I planned it. It is just a big surprise. It's like exploring a new world, a new domain.
What do you think is the most powerful painting you've ever seen in person?
The painting that frightened me the most? Hmmm… I have seen some Rubens and Goyas and I think other than De Kooning, it would have to be Sergio Rascon. He is an artist friend of mine from Hermosillo, Mexico. He has a certain notch on things. It is funny because in Spanish, the word "rascon" means someone who scratches himself, and he does a lot of scratching. You can identify a Rascon by the scratching.
If someone were to ask you if you had a signature to your style of painting, do you think you could identify one?
I think I would be the last person in the world to really be able to say that I do.
How did you fall into painting?
I never tried the bed that was too little or the bed that was too big. I sincerely feel that I just am a painter and I don't want to aspire to anything but what I am. I feel like I am wearing a big neon sign that says painter. It is a calling. It is the form of art that has appealed to me the most since childhood. And I started with actual oil painting when I was 22 or 23 and it was a huge enlightenment for me.
What was the first oil painting that you did?
I was living with my mother and I had been in Fresno for a year. Before that I was in Mexico for 11 years. I had arrived to witness my father's death. I finished high school and I continued studying and I was getting this teaching from City College and I focused on the visual arts. I met this man named Patrick Snowden and I'm not sure if he is still and instructor there, but he introduced me to the fine arts. He taught me that oils aren't just dyes but that they are pigments that have been grinded. There is enormous historic information in the invention of painting. It made an enormous connection.
We talked about a common "style" to your work. You didn't really identify one, but is there common feeling that you have when you're working on them? Or is it different every time?
Sometimes it is like feeling tingly. Like love or a crush on a painting and it is obsessive. You just make love with that moment.
Do you have a favorite color?
I think I go through color seasons. But not in line with the seasons. More like ages. Every 5 years or 10 years or something. I get really involved in a color.
What's the color right now? Or the pallet?
The color right now is moving from green. Green needs something that will make it become more green, and what makes it become green is a nice orange. You can swing through the blues and the reds and that is fascinating and there have been many moments when I've been fascinated with those colors, but there is something about green and orange that makes it like my own blue and red or my own black and white. You just feel the vibrating distortion …
Are there any rituals you have before you start a new canvas?
My friend Ronald Dzerigian was asked this same question and he answered that he would just wash his dishes. Just washing dishes. After your dishes are clean you'll feel ready to start.