Alvaro (Al) Rojas, born in Colombia S.A., moved with his family at the age of ten to Astoria, Queens N.Y. He attended Jacksonville University and Florida International University (FIU), including art classes. At FIU, where he graduated with a Bachelor in Engineering, a class on art critique set Al on a 40 year path to develop his art and techniques. Groups of geometric and figurative forms on abstract backgrounds or cityscapes are the main theme of Al’s works. His goal is for viewers to see an interesting color combination, a new line or form and to have their imaginations stimulated. The Rickie Report is pleased to share an interview with this innovative creator and some of his award-winning images.
Art for Al has been a way to take time out of the corporate world and has been a source of reflection and tranquility. His art provides a different perspective for his daily activities were he can explore his inner thoughts and organize his life’s direction.
“Absinthe Drinker” by Al Rojas
TRR: How did you begin creating your artwork?
I’ve been drawing from childhood, imitating an uncle who liked drawing, but it wasn’t until college where I attended a couple of art classes and began to seriously paint. One class in particular was about art critique and it set me off on an exploratory path for the following 40 years that eventually lead to the works that I create today.
“Yellow Panel” by Al Rojas
TRR: What inspired you at that time?
I believe it was the teacher who challenged me to question what it was I was doing and search for my own art identity.
“Intaglios” by Al Rojas
TRR: What inspires you now?
I was influenced by a number of 20th century movements, primarily cubism and sub-realism; these periods in art have shaped my imagery. Abstract expressionism and other later movements have influenced the process of my works, giving me the freedom to experiment with a limited number of materials to create compositions seen by my mind’s eye.
My main source of inspiration have been my life’s experiences, growing up Colombia and Queens N.Y., my schooling, and working and traveling throughout the Americas during my corporate career, come to be incorporated and manifested in my art. I still continue to search and understand what it is that I do and why I do it; this search is what inspires me the most.
“Silent Morning” by Al Rojas
TRR: Tell us about your life story.
After a couple of art classes in college, I dedicated myself to getting an Engineering degree and later a Masters degree. For the past 40 years my engineering and business career was my primary driver and focus… creating 2D works was a secondary activity that helped me escape the pressure of work, especially in the last ten years. One aspect of my working life that did help my artistic work was the large amount of traveling all over Latin America, US and Canada that I did. These experiences provided a great deal of visual stimulus and long periods of time to develop ideas that I used during the time I had for painting.
“Losing My Religion” by Al Rojas
TRR Did you try other mediums?
I have concentrated on using acrylics, because they provide the results that work best with the process I have developed..they complement the process very well and with a few tools, some pencils, some use of ink and watercolors provide the best combination of mediums I can find. I originally tried oil painting, followed by ink and water colors. It was the watercolors and an exploration of the medium that led to acrylics.
“Windows” by Al Rojas
TRR: What led you to your current style?
I am interested in creating images and form without any pre-conception of the outcome. The works are process-oriented and I let the intermediate results guide me to a finished work. I start by floating various liquid mediums, such as ink, acrylic ink, watercolors and acrylics in water on a vertical pane of glass, manipulating the effects and adding (drawing or painting) or removing (scratching / ripping) areas of the work in process. I primarily use an eye dropper to place the liquid mediums on the glass trying to be as controlled as possible to create areas that can be used to build space, images, buildings or figures. If the medium gets out of control, I scratch/etch it to make lines and forms, eventually developing a complete composition.
The composition develops from floating the acrylic ink and letting time and gravity start the creative process. As the “puddles” dry, I can visualize what the next step is and take it step by step bringing out line, figure(s), background / foreground and space. Once I finish the wet process, I cover the results with a clear acrylic medium. Once the acrylic medium dries, I cut it up into additional shapes, paint over it and lift it from the glass for further painting on the back side prior to mounting it on a Plexiglas panel or paper.
My works attempt to balance the abstract with the representational, colorful at times with geometric forms to assist in putting order to the composition. Due to what seems as a chaotic process, I tend to produce primarily abstract imagery, but as I control the process, I have been able to produce representational/figurative images, primarily human figures.
“Galactic Cemetery” by Al Rojas
TRR: Have you seen your style change over the years? What has influenced any changes?
Yes, from very abstract works that looked like early satellite imagery with little to no composition, I have moved to a more controlled results that have better composition and balance. I strongly feel the need to control the results of a very chaotic process, in order to show that the finished work was done with a good deal of conscientious effort and not just a total random result…that the work has an intellect behind it and not just something that looks pretty.
“Ace, King, Queen” by Al Rojas
TRR: What advice do you give to an emerging artist?
Works of art are not a slam dunk, just because you have a good technique or ease of hand and skill. You have to work at it to try to understand what it is you are trying to achieve and why.
“Shaman Pointing The Way” by Al Rojas
TRR: What is most challenging as an artist?
After completing a work that takes me to a new point/level, starting a new one is the most challenging. The “what now” or “what next” question can really be difficult to overcome and get going again.
“Pixelating Sky” by Al Rojas
TRR: Where can people find your work?
I hope people will visit Art On Park Gallery, visit the website, my Facebook Page and contact me.
General Overview of Exhibitions:
City of Palm Beach Gardens – GardensArt Exhibit – Spring 2006 Juried Art Exhibition
Boca Raton Museum of Art, Artist’ Guild – 2006 Winter Open Juried Art Exhibition
Boca Raton Museum of Art, Artist’ Guild – 2007 Summer Open Juried Art Exhibition
ArtAvox Spring, 2007, 2008, 2009
Boynton Beach Art in Public Places – Carolyn Sims Center, Summer 2008
Boca Raton Sugar Sand, Art in Public Places – Winter 2008, Juried Art Exhibition
Armory Art Center, Inc. Hispanic Heritage Exhibition February, 2009
City of Palm Beach Gardens – GardensArt Exhibit Spring 2010 Juried Art Exhibition
Lighthouse for the Arts – Multiple Sins Summer 2010 Juried Art Exhibition
Continuum West Palm Beach – 2016 and 2014, Juried Art Exhibition
Art on Park Gallery – numerous exhibits 2012 – 2016
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Rickie Leiter, Publisher
The Rickie Report
Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33420