Julio Larraz.: An Artist in his Prime

Zane Foley

When we think of an artist we typically think of painters but never could anyone imagine a painter like Julio Larraz. Julio Larraz is arguably the most important contemporary Latin American Painter, whose work impacts the viewer on a deep psychological level. Dreamlike, nostalgic, elegantly sharp and thought provoking, Julio Larraz has built a reputation second to only his work. Born in Cuba in 1944, Julio and his family moved to the United States in 1961, eventually settling in New York City in 1964. Larraz began his career as an artist drawing political caricatures published in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and Chicago Tribune. It was not until 1967 Larraz dedicate his life to painting, with his first solo exhibition occurring at the Pyramid Galleries in Washington D.C. Since then Julio has been accoladed with several awards and grants from The Academy of Arts and Letters, including the Casita Maria, Center of the Arts and Education Gold Medal Award in 2001. His gallery is currently on tour in the United States and more information can be found at his website JulioLarraz.com

julio larraz
The Magician of Punta Agravox” 2011, Oil on Canvas, 78 x 60 Inches

How, why, and at what age did you come to realize you wanted to dedicate your life to art? In creative and professional aspects how has your decision presented challenges to you as an artist?

I must have been around 10 or 12 years old when I saw the picture “Winter” by Pieter Bruegel, the Elder. Electrifying beauty, understated, simple to the point. That’s when I knew there was something brewing, I didn’t know yet what it was…..

Your work has been described as not belonging to any recognized genre, what would you classify your paintings as and why?

At the risk of sounding over simplistic, I would say it falls on the category of the Traditional Realism of American and European Art. However, I am the least qualified person to make any assertion on the subject

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“Time” 2015, Oil on Canvas, 60 x 72 Inches

Your work showcases an impressive display of deep values, sharp stricken lights, and dreamy scenes, but arguably the most potent aspect is your ability to impact the consciousness of people. Why do you believe people find your work so psychologically potent?

Taste is seldom universal, sometimes by chance we do things that are appealing to others, I wouldn’t know.

What do you hope people gain and learn from the paintings you produce?

The hope is that through the effort that you have done other may learn, profit and a new generation can benefit from it. It’s the only thing we leave behind as an inheritance. What did Debussy leave us? What did Chaim Soutine leave us? What have you left in the wall of life for others to find?

Many express a deep sentiment for your imagination and its ability to translate to people, but art takes more than just a vivid imagination. Where do you credit your imagination and what steps do you take to be successful in translating that in your art?

My father used to tell me that the work of art, was a product of millennia, that nothing is produced in the vacuum; it’s a stairway, step by step a product of the labor of humans. One is but a step in a long ladder of development. My paintings come from my readings from listening, from seeing, from living on this earth during 71 years

You moved from Cuba to Miami with your parents in 1961. Do you believe your success as an artist could have been possible if you were to have remained in your home country Cuba? What affect if any, would this of had on your influences and inspirations for your paintings?

Ernest Hemingway wrote a beautiful essay together with his colleague and good friend John Dos Pasos, about a painter from Cuba who both knew well and admired. It was published by Scribner’s, in it both explained why a painter in that “milieu” was destined to oblivion. The painter in question was a good friend of mine.

You began your career as a political caricature creator, published in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Chicago Tribune. Now you hold a reputation as being one of the most important contemporary Latin American painters, what sort of cornerstones in your career made transitioning to painting possible?

Stubbornness

You have lived in Cuba, Miami, Washington D.C., New York, New Mexico, Paris, and Italy. If you had to choose one place that impacted your art where would that be?

When I find it I will let you know.

Can you tell us about your current show? Is there anything in particular you wish to accomplish through this show or any upcoming shows or exhibits?

I am home, in a Gallery that believes in my work. That for an artist is more than you could ever imagine; it’s home.

Take this opportunity to provide anything you believe is worth mentioning or any promotions on your current show. Anything I have missed or if there is something you would like to say.

This is the best show I have had in years in the United States, Ameringer, McEnery and Yohe prepared it with care and professional touch. I am in the company of spectacular artists, you cannot ask for more

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“Mother Ship” 1993, Oil on Canvas, 65.5 x 82 Inches

 

Julio Larraz provides a unique style resonating in the minds of viewers from all parts of the world. Living in a vast array of cities and being an immigrant, Julio’s diverse background parallels the subjects present in his work. Julio has the power to turn the functions of everyday life into a profound, abstract representation of the mind. When viewing his paintings, Larraz mastered the art of infusing our subconscious with dreamlike possibilities. Being an artist since he was 10 years old his work like his words are potent in nature, and like his sharp colors and reflective tones, he demands an attention mirrored in the presence of his subjects. Julio Larraz continues the tradition of Latin American artists, producing monumental work only possible from such a unique culture. His latest exhibition is in New York at the Ameringer McEnery Yohe Gallery.

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