Luiz Escañuela's hyperrealistic oil paintings make him a new exponent in the world of arts. Learn a little about his story, his creative process and enjoy some of his works with humanity that can be seen in the flesh.
Name: Luiz Escañuela
Date of birth: October 7, 1993
Country of birth: Brazil
City where you were born: São Caetano do Sul
City where you grew up: São Paulo (Brazil)
City where you live: São Caetano do Sul
A remarkable work of someone in your area: "Concetto Spaziale Bianco", by Lucio Fontana
The main working tools: Brush, color and zoom (virtual zoom or not)
Where would you like to see your work exposed: Masp, Moma, Tate, Louvre. Maybe one day ...
Who would you invite to be your live model: Maria Bethânia
Who would you like to make a portrait of yourself: William-Adolphe Bouguereau
If you could take only one image to Mars it would be: "School of Athens", Raphael's painting
® When has art become a professional path in your life?
I think it happened when I was 22 years old. At least it was when I dropped design and began to dedicate myself exclusively to painting and art. After finishing my first author series, I won a scholarship to study Art. It was at this moment that I felt that it no longer made sense to "run away" from a career as an artist. It was always what I did with more passion and dedication. Then I began to make some sales and small orders. Network projection boosted the search for my work. At 23 I was represented by a gallery that mediates with new buyers and gives me the freedom to worry more about my work and less about sales.
® What are the biggest differences from early work so far?
The main difference is in the conceptualization. My technique has been "developed" since the age of 7 and I always knew that human representation was my main theme. I wanted to talk about humanities. But at the time, I appropriated movies and stories that interested me and touched me in some way. I drew my "favorite people".
Today I create them. Everything I want to talk about people and images goes through a creative process that blends with research and writing. The work is conceptualized and references go through a more critical screen. I do this trying not to lose the spontaneity of when I was little and drew my favorite movies.
® What are your biggest influences?
The British Jenny Saville was the first who made me very sure that I would like to work the skin, touch and body mass as the main poetic of my work. She reinvents the human figure and unites the powers of the materiality of ink with the particularities of the body and its imperfections. Hungarian István Sándorfi and New Zealander Jeremy Geddes are other strong inspirations. Partly because of the strength of their hyperreal technique, but in particular their ability to attribute an extremely dreamlike character to their works, creating narratives where the hyperreal serves to conceive of physical and mental human records, concrete and ludic at the same time. In Brazil, there is the watercolorist Marcos Beccari. He works the light in an unusual way. Marcos is very happy in the selection of the images he portrays, he can unite an aura of introspection and spontaneity with the human figure that inspires me when I will photograph the models or select the possibilities of light at work. Every day I get a new inspiration, I am always following what has been produced in contemporary painting.
® Are your works developed within a specific technique or do you use all available resources for your art?
The specific technique is oil on canvas. But before that, I go through a process of conception and conceptualization. First I write a lot about the work and how I will make one dialogue with the other to fix my research as much as concept as aesthetics. Then I go to a photo shoot with models, stipulating the parts of the body to be photographed, the drama, the light, etc. From these photos I make a selection of what will be the next frames. After editing the base photo I transfer it to the canvas and this is where the oil on canvas process begins. But before and after that, there are a number of techniques required for the creative process to flow according to my intentions.
® Can fidelity to a technique paralyzes the artist?
Yes and no. I think every artist is a born experimenter. The difference is that each experience may take more or less time. My experiences take so long, so I've been in this research for almost three years. Improvement of technique can be analogous to the enrichment of concept and poetics. So being “in a cast” on a technique for a period can mean that the artist is reinvigorating his artistic research. The important thing is to feel when the technique is somehow suffocating the poetics. Because then the artist does not reinvent himself, does not allow the entrance of the new. An artist who works with marble sculptures, for example, can spend a lifetime working with this same technique. If it is the means by which he says new things, reframing his work and evolving his concepts.
® What is the role of technology in the design and in the results of your art?
I work a lot with photographs. I often say that photographs are the “first sketch” for my works. So cameras, lighting and things like that are essential to my creative process. After the photo shoots I make a selection of images that go through editing. Therefore, image editing software is very important for design. With it I regulate the colors and improve the photographs so that they can be the basis of the painting. During the process and after its completion, I make more photos to document and record the work. A camera that can capture the most varied details on human skin is essential for the conception and recording of the work.
® What are your favorite topics, the ones you like to work on?
Humanity, interaction of bodies, overcoming photography, playfulness, empathy. I believe that experiments with specific clipping of body interaction may be a new possibility. I am starting my research and there are numerous details and insertion skills that take a long time to mature and to execute. Hyperrealism is a time-consuming technique. Experiments need to be worked on and designed before they are put into practice. The way I try to work out the particulars of the details can be an enriching power for the job. In poetics, I seek to establish a force of human representation that flirts with passionate and ecstazy, while possessing the requirements for the conception of a “superimage”. I try to create something that rises to photography, surpassing it, attributing an entity character to portraits as possible chronicles of the human species.
® Do you usually work several pieces at the same time or prefer to start and finish one project at a time?
I have never painted two canvases at the same time. I like and need to devote as much time as possible to the painting being developed, because otherwise it will take a long time to complete. I prefer to be focused on one job at a time.
® Which contemporary artists are you most interested in following?
I follow artists who work with different materials and languages. Kit King, Marco Grassi, Adriana Varejão, Jaime Lauriano, Ai Weiwei, Marina Abramovic, Ron Mueck, Jeremy Geddes, Marcos Beccari, Eloy Morales, Jenny Saville, Paulo Pjota.
® Can you quantify in your work how much is inspiration and how much is perspiration?
Most of the inspiration comes before I get the brush and the paint. I know what I mean, I work with photography and I wonder how I will boost the image with my technique. And I write a great deal about, especially about the problematic between human representation, hyper-realism and contemporary art. Sweating comes at the time of painting. Painting hyperrealism is like painting multiple frames within the same frame. The key is to focus on the details of the skin, the individuality of pores, spots and hair. It all depends on the area pictured: painting a smooth part of the skin is different from painting the palm of a hand, which has many veins and marks. This takes a lot of time and concentration. Sometimes I finish painting an area and it seems like I ran a marathon because I get so tired... I feel that sometimes I get into a kind of trance because I need to exercise patience and feel that at the moment there is only painting and me.
® What is the price of your inspiration?
The pricing process is very gradual. A budding artist who sells his work on his own obviously charges cheaper. When the sale comes from a gallery, the value goes up, because it will be the mediator between the painting and the buyers. Having a gallery is very good for buyers to have confidence in the quality of the work and the importance of the work they are purchasing. Today, I am represented by the Luis Maluf Gallery, which exhibits my work in fairs inside and outside Brazil. I also do a lot of my outreach through social networks. Instagram is my biggest showcase and the best way I can interact with people, find out who my work is reaching, what people talk about it, etc. I think the next step is to go through the hands of critics who write about art for large portals. In this way the work of the artist becomes much more solidified and gains an important seal for his artistic production that will be a tool for both his professional ways and his creative freedom.
® Bob Cotrim