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José Luis Car­ranza was born in Lima, Peru in 1981.  A fig­u­ra­tive painter trained at the Escuela Nacional de Bel­las Artes del Peru, a school known for its strict adher­ence to clas­si­cal tech­ni­cal train­ing, he is very famil­iar with the grand clas­si­cal tra­di­tion of paint­ing.  He has spent years study­ing the tech­niques of the mas­ters of the Renais­sance, Rubens and Goya for exam­ple.  In 2009 he won the National Pass­port Con­test held by the French embassy in Peru and spent much of last year in France, learn­ing French and study­ing the works of the Euro­pean masters.

Yet as a painter of the 21-​​century, he is also a big fan of the Amer­i­can painter Dana Schutz and Ger­man Neo Rauch.   Like these two painters, José works within a tra­di­tional mode of expres­sion to dis­cuss con­tem­porar­ily rel­e­vant themes: the frac­tur­ing of reli­gion and pol­i­tics, the aggres­sive clash­ing of cul­tures cre­ated by glob­al­iza­tion, our immer­sion in an envi­ron­ment of vio­lence.  He believes that in today’s world we expe­ri­ence “vio­lence from birth” and that we live with­out rules.  Though obsessed with the tech­niques of the clas­si­cal tra­di­tion, and the alle­gor­i­cal use of mytholo­gies, he also incor­po­rates a con­tem­po­rary sense of aban­don into his paint­ing style.  José approaches each new paint­ing blankly, with no sketches, and paints from his mind, allow­ing mys­te­ri­ous things to emerge from each canvas.

As we spoke we sat fac­ing a paint­ing in progress.  This new paint­ing depicts sev­eral simul­ta­ne­ous nar­ra­tives.  On the right we find two men, both in a trance yet in con­flict with each other.  On the left side he has depicted a fig­ure soak­ing in a swamp, held down by another fig­ure, wings sprout­ing from his spine, a stalk of wheat in his mouth.  Around them are fly­ing birds of prey and slith­er­ing ser­pents. This ref­er­enc­ing of both bib­li­cal and Incan sym­bols is char­ac­ter­is­tic to his work.  Though far from Nation­al­is­tic, the paint­ings illus­trate the mix­ing of cul­tures found in Peru, and through­out the world.

The fig­ures in his paint­ings are based on the images of his rel­a­tives func­tion­ing as stand-​​ins for “every man”.  All his fig­ures, men, women and ani­mals, share sim­i­lar char­ac­ter­is­tics.  Skin is often painted as bro­ken and fluid, and he thinks of these char­ac­ters as only par­tially formed, still under­go­ing the process of cre­ation.  The set­tings, usu­ally for­est or jun­gle, are painted in a sim­i­larly thin and fluid style, indi­cat­ing a wild and unciv­i­lized envi­ron­ment. Through his work he presents a world under­go­ing phys­i­cal and spir­i­tual trans­for­ma­tion, a state so famil­iar to us, that we can’t help but be engaged, spell­bound even in front of these mes­mer­iz­ing paintings."

Jose Luis Carranza
Antonio Lee
Silent Tears, graphite pencil drawing
Jo Hall
Wacław Wantuch
Roman Striga
Cécile van Hanja
Joseph Lee
James Guppy
Tom Miller

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