Juan Pablo Bohorquez
Acrylic on masonite
Juan Pablo Bohorquez
Acrylic on masonite
Juan Pablo Bohórquez is a New York born and based artist whose surrealist paintings sink into the unconscious of the viewer. His life experience growing up in a Latino immigrant family in the USA is his greatest influence. Drawing from his past, Bohórquez exposes what he considers inherited senses of fear and displacement, while unravelling his relationship to identity all within his work. He explores this “inherited” psychology using symbolism and a visual language that entices the viewer to find meaning beyond what is just literally depicted and superficially obvious.
Your work Space-baby is not only masterful executed in terms of its technicality, but also suggests playful wisdom. In a time of global crisis, it seems more important than ever for us to find that inner child, can you talk a little bit about this work?
I first want to thank you for having me participate in this show. It’s so important during these difficult times. Space-Baby has become a very important symbol in my work representing a new awareness of ourselves and how we see the world. As a Latin American artist, I work with inherited cultural imagery to explore issues that are important to our time. Today we live in a globalized world that has us face issues of identity and representation that must be challenged and redefined. A son of immigrant parents like so many around the world I’ve had to reimagine what culture, ethnicity and nationalism means to me. Space Baby symbolizes that newfound awareness of ourselves in a globalized context discovering the strength and value of our individual stories. Everyone has a story to be told.
Is it fair to say that your work suggests a lot about your Columbian heritage? If so, can you talk a little bit about why is your cultural heritage vital to your artmaking?
Yes, my Colombian heritage is very much a part of everything that I do because it is one of the lenses with which I see the world. My sense of self was formed in an environment of cultural preservation where memory and language were of utmost importance. Not only knowing but expressing oneself correctly and effectively in another language really shapes how one sees and relates to the world. Growing up in NYC among so many other cultures cemented my feeling of otherness propelling me to dive deeper into the story of my culture and ethnicity. There are few things more intimate and fulfilling than the connection, understanding and acceptance of our past. Good art comes from the act of self-discovery and my work reflects this.
As a transcultural artist, what is your take on globalization?
“Globalization” is a term that can be used to express many things whether political, cultural or economic in a negative or positive fashion. I feel that globalization is the natural progression of civilization on this planet and it’s been going on the moment humans left Africa. We are all a product of globalization and myself as an artist is no exception. In accepting this reality however I do believe there is a struggle to be had. History is written by the powerful with culture and influence being no different. For better or worse the story at large has been told through a European and North American narrative. As a Latino artist my view of the world comes from a different story with a different sensibility that needs to be told. The struggle to include stories of all kinds and from all corners of the world needs to be had and Artists are an integral part of this.
Your work also possesses the traits of Surrealism, can you talk a little bit about your understanding of this important artistic movement and its place in today’s art world?
My attraction to Surrealism is a very effortless one starting early in my work. There is an intrinsic familiarity and understanding of surrealism and metaphysics in Latin culture. Whether through Mediterranean, indigenous and African cultures the concept of the “spirit of things” is extremely important. In Surrealist and Metaphysical art there is a belief of things being much more than what they appear. Whether it’s an object or a dream serving as a catalyst to a truth to be discovered or unveiled. This philosophy of “the spirit of things” is one that I hold dear in my work digging deeper to explore the unconscious. Artist like Di Chirico, Magritte, Frida Kahlo, Dali and others reminds us what this search can look like but I feel that this method of discovery and understanding should be more present than ever. Art has had an integral function ever since humans started to have the cognitive ability to make it. Art has always served as a portal to a world where part of us all reside. Artists like priests or shamans have been the Gatekeepers of the unconscious helping to decipher and understand our history and present experiences. However, in modern times through a European and North American lens I mentioned earlier art has come to be at service to itself. We became fascinated with a more scientific approach to art breaking it down to its more basic building blocks. Color, texture, line, sound and any other aspect of art have been studied and explored but consequently disconnecting us from meaning just beyond its own physical attributes. To be clear I’m not rejecting any school of art because it’s all necessary and valid but I do feel that this “purification” of art has sacrificed its role in society. My hope is that in this new world where many stories are told we rediscover the surreal and metaphysical aspects of art connecting us back to the “spirit of things” where truth and meaning lies just beyond our conscious reach.